One Book, One City for Kids

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Read With Us!

One Book, One City for Kids is a cool reading program that tries to get all the 5th graders in one city (Grand Rapids) to read one book (Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan).

Even if you’re not a 5th grader, we’ll let you read the book. If you would like to hear the book read aloud to you, the library has an audiobook you can check out.

What happens in the book?

Esperanza believed her life would be wonderful forever. She would always live on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She would always have fancy dresses and a beautiful home filled with servants.  Papa and Abuelita would always be with her.

But a sudden tragedy shatters her world and Esperanza and Mama flee to California, where they settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, and lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick, and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances – because Mama’s life and her own depend on it.

The author was inspired by her grandmother’s life. Her grandmother left a life of privilege in Mexico in the 1930s and worked in the United States as a migrant farm worker. Because it depicts Hispanic culture and history and many social issues, including discrimination, the book is used in the curriculum of many schools. This book and author were requested by the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Learn a little bit about the author

Pam Muñoz Ryan was born in Bakersfield in California’s San Joaquin Valley on December 25th, 1951. She comes from a very large family of four children and twenty-three grandchildren, and her aunts, uncles, and grandparents were always nearby. As a child, Muñoz Ryan spent a lot of time at the air-conditioned local library in order to keep cool. She became very interested in reading and books during her childhood. She earned her bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University. She decided that she wanted to do something that had to do with her love for books, so she later became a bilingual teacher. She was married and had four children of her own. When she returned to college to get her master’s degree in education, a professor suggested that she should consider writing books. Her new career as a successful writer began.

Pam Muñoz Ryan has won many literary awards, including the Pura Belpre Medal, the Jane Addams Peace Award, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, the Willa Cather Award, and the California Young Reader Medal. Today she works as a full-time writer and lives north of San Diego, California with her husband Jim and their two dogs.

An Evening with Pam Muñoz Ryan

Monday, March 7, 2015, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE | Ryerson Auditorium, Level 3
The author of the book, Esperanza Rising, which is included in many school curriculums nationally, will be presenting and signing books. This ends the One Book, One City for Kids program. Educators and youth, not only will you meet the author of this year’s selection, but you will be able to come and mingle with others who have read the book. Refreshments and cake will be served.

This visit is funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation. Consider a gift today.

Thank you to our community partners: