As Founder and CEO of Cuento de Luz, I always had the passion to publish children’s picture books that transmitted global values such as promoting peace, sustainability, respecting differences, and inspiring children for a positive future, and hence would fit into any culture and language. We didn’t see ourselves as a local Spanish publisher, but as a publisher for the whole world.
Then in New York, we found a US distributor, IPG (we are now distributed by Ingram/PGW), and they of course also sold English books. We quickly realized that there is a clear synergy in the distribution process in having two versions of each book in both English and Spanish. In the very first year of Cuento de Luz’s existence, we decided to participate in BookExpo America at the Javits Center in New York. And that is how it all started.
The value for our writers and illustrators is that they get exposure to a much larger audience. Although the values and messaging are universal, there is a clear difference in the feedback you get for the same title in the two languages. That is very enriching and helps the creative process to better understand themes that are important to different audiences.
The Hispanic population in the US is some 60 million (18% of total) and growing fast. By 2050 it is estimated to become 30% of the population. These are huge numbers and represent a fantastic opportunity for publishers that focus on quality Spanish-language literature. Also, the Hispanic population is becoming more and more successful, educated, and wealthy and are buying more books. We are very happy we started early to focus on the US and are thrilled with the readership and following we have here.
There is a great benefit for the reader, especially in the US with a large and growing Hispanic population. Here readers can have a copy of the book in both languages and thereby parents can, through the mystery of a tale, teach their children a second language. Also, for English speakers this is important, giving parents the opportunity that their children read and understand Spanish and thereby better integrate with their local Hispanic communities.
Many of our books talk about the acceptance of diversity. It is powerful to use a good story and position it in a multicultural context, thereby communicating that real life is no different, really, wherever you live, whatever is the color of your skin, whatever is your culture. We are all bound together by sharing the same basic human values.
A good example is For You, where the children of an African-American and Asian-American couple talk about their gratefulness towards their parents. It is about family relationships and gratitude, nothing to do with race, but expressed in a diverse context. The child reader identifies with the values and sees that those are the same he or she espouses in their context, thereby, hopefully, increasing their acceptance of diversity.
Another multicultural example is the book about Lopez Lomong. An incredible true story: child soldier in Africa (Lost Boys of Sudan), got adopted by US parents, he was good at running, made the US Olympic team and was the US flag bearer at the Beijing Olympics. A child reading this book will be very inspired.
Our publishing company is eminent in celebrating Latino authors and illustrators. Awards and reviews are the best ways to ensure our authors and illustrators are being celebrated. Cuento de Luz books have received more than 100 awards in the US, not only for Spanish titles, but also books in English. This shows our authors and illustrators are great and recognized for being so.
In this context we want to highlight the great importance of the International Latino Book Awards run by Empowering Latino Futures / Latino Literacy Now. They are doing a great job at promoting and celebrating Latino contribution to literature.
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