Napa Reads Program

A conversation with Author Pablo Cartaya
Posted on 03/24/2023
A conversation with Author Pablo Cartaya On Thursday, March 9th, the Napa County Read’s program was hosted by Calistoga Junior/Senior High School. Held annually for the past 20 years and including all Napa County Schools, this is the first time the event has been hosted at one of our schools and Superintendent Pittman promised to the students that this would certainly not be the last. Howell Mountain and Pope Elementary also sent students to participate in the event.

Internationally recognized Author Pablo Cartaya was the special guest speaker. The three themes driving Cartaya's work are family, community, and culture. Cartaya spoke to the students about his identity as a Cuban-American living in America. He shared with the students the social pressure he faced to disassociate himself with his Cuban roots and his journey of reclaiming his identity. Cartaya explained that as a young child, his Abuelita played an important role in helping him learn about his family’s culture and Cuban traditions by sharing foods, experiences, and the Spanish language. Cartaya encouraged students to connect with their grandparents, learn more about their family heritage, and embrace all parts of their identities, which creates their own uniqueness.

Cartaya writes as a way to preserve his experiences and to reclaim who he is, given that for many years after his grandmother's passing, he disconnected from this part of himself. Cartaya creates each book with authenticity, incorporating bilingualism, and characters with his natural features of black hair and brown eyes in order to help students with these features see themselves represented in his books and so that they too can see themselves as protagonists in their own emerging stories. We were honored to have a guest speaker who strives to achieve representation of underrepresented groups in literature.

The Calistoga RAPPER team, funded by the local Soroptimist club, gifted each student in the 4th - 6th grade one of Cartaya’s books titled the Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, which students got to read before this event and made this event even more memorable for students.
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