Skip to main content


Trying to Forget Pedro and Juanita: The Emergence of Chicano/a Children's Literature

Recorded as part of the "American Identity in Children's Literature Symposium", four scholars discuss the development of ethnic or multicultural children's literature, which seeks to diversify the all-white world of children's literature. Presentations were drawn from their respective specialties of Jewish, Latino, American Indian, and African American children's books to address such issues as authenticity, audience, self-esteem, and presentations of social conflict and cultural differences that make this field so important and so contested.

Phillip Serrato is a a teacher and scholar who tends to fret over issues of race, gender, and sexuality in children's and adolescent literature. Aided and abetted by his students, he fusses over constructions of masculinity in children's books, explores the ways that books for young adults engage the subjects of love, sex, and desire, and generally goes out of his way to test students' presumptions about the limits of literature for young people. Trained in Chicano/a literary, cultural, and film studies at UC Riverside, he brings to the SDSU children's literature program a specialization in Chicano/a children's and adolescent literature. Over the past few years, he has published essays on Latino professional wrestlers and on the Personal Memoirs of Juan Seguín, and he has co-authored an article on Gloria Anzaldúa's two illustrated books for children.  His current work focuses on the construction, deconstruction, and re-imagination of Chicano masculinity in books for children and young adults by Chicano and Chicana authors.

Also recorded as part of this event:
Debbie Reese - "Indians as Artifacts: How Images of Indians Are Used to Nationalize America's Youth"
Michelle Martin - "Little Black Sambo and the Complicated History of African American Children's Books"
Phillip Serrato - "Trying to Forget Pedro and Juanita: The Emergence of Chicano/a Children's Literature"


Recorded Saturday, December 13, 2008 at The Newberry Library.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.