“You matter and you’re not alone.”

Latinx Reads Club embraces diversity in literature

Veronica Reyes, co-sponsor of Latinx Reads Club, was inspired to create Latinx Reads Club by a single book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, written by Erika L. Sánchez. Reyes explained that she wanted to help her students discover books that they could personally relate to; Reyes found this inspiration as she hoped to find her own connection to literature at a young age.

In I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Sánchez tells the story of Julia Reyes who copes with the aftermath of her sister’s death. The novel also discusses Reyes’s heritage and her relationship with Mexican culture.

Sophomore Alexia Figueroa explained that at meetings, the club reviews a summary of what has happened in the book they are currently reading and then discusses important themes and quotes. She added that their meetings are discussion-based, which allows them to open up and relate their experiences to the book.

“We talk about themes in the chapters and how we connected to the book,” Figueroa said.

At the end of each book, there is a “culminating activity,” Reyes explained. A few examples include watching a play, meeting an author or writing. Anne Walsh, co-club sponsor and Spanish teacher, explained that culminating activities like meeting Natalia Sylvester, the author of the novel Running, help students feel more connected to the books they read, the community and to the world.

“The students were able to meet the author which speaks to the part of connection,” Walsh said. “Not only are we connecting to the local community of GBS, but it’s also that connection outside and being able to see themselves in authors.”

Reyes started Latinx Reads to help students find books that they can easily relate to because of her own experiences. When she was younger, Reyes loved reading but was not able to find the  relatable Latinx  representation that she wanted in literature. She believes that the books she was reading did not accurately represent her experiences.

“When I was in middle school and high school, I loved to read, and I didn’t have books with characters that were living my life as a bicultural person,” Reyes said. “Now we have  access to these [Latinx] books and authors, so I think that we’re connecting students to their multicultural identity.”

Walsh believes that teens’ feelings are not always validated as they should be, so Latinx Reads Club reads books that students can relate to and see themselves reflected in. The sponsors said they try to make the club as inclusive and accepting as possible, to validate student’s feelings.

“I think it’s that space of ‘we see you, we hear you, you matter and you’re not alone,’” Walsh said.

The members of the club  agree that Latinx Reads is a safe space for their feelings, Figueroa said. The discussions are open and accepting, which gives club members a place to share feelings that they may not be able to anywhere else.

They added that they enjoy having the opportunity to make connections with each other and  read books they enjoy and relate to. Latinx Reads Club meets on Mondays after school from 3:30-4 p.m. in the library and over Zoom.

“Our discussions are open, there’s no judging and everyone’s ideas are interesting,” Figueroa said.