Even when faced with hardships and improbabilities, it’s essential to keep dreaming. That’s the inspirational message of the new children’s book “Grandes Dreamers: Twelve Fierce Latina Trailblazers Who Paved the Way in the United States,” which launched during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Written in English and Spanish by Argelia Atilano, who rose in popularity as a host of El Show de Omar y Argelia for KLVE-FM, the book tells the stories of 12 famous women representing a variety of careers — Ellen Ochoa, Laurie Hernandez, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Sonia Sotomayor, Maria Elena Salinas, Olga Custodio, Sandra Cisneros, Jennifer Lopez, Dolores Huerta, Rita Moreno, Sylvia Acevedo and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Atilano tells each woman’s story with heart and unveiled admiration, capturing their childhoods, cultural contexts and the adversities they faced on their individual paths to greatness. Artist Anna Alvarado’s illustrations serve as a vibrant backdrop.
Atilano, who, with her husband Omar Velasco, was a guest on our podcast earlier this year, wrote the book that (to paraphrase the late Toni Morrison) she wanted to read but had not been able to find when she was a teen looking for inspiration. When she was in high school, she searched the library for a book that told the story of Latinas who had created powerful legacies in the U.S. And as a mother, she wanted to write “Grandes Dreamers” (aimed at children 8-12) to give her daughter (and girls everywhere) the gift of seeing themselves reflected in a book.
Atilano says their mission was to let “young Latinos know that, in the 21st century, they can walk into any library, bookstore, store or classroom and find an empowering bilingual book, seeing themselves proudly represented in the areas of sports, journalism, science, aviation, activism, politics, aerospace, arts and literature.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District will produce video capsules featuring the stories of the 12 women of “Grandes Dreamers.” With voiceover by Atilano and drawings by Alvarado, the capsules will be aired on the PBS-affiliated television channel KLC.
To learn more, visit grandesdreamers.com.