Mexican-American author embraces her culture by reading her book to children - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Mexican-American author embraces her culture by reading her book to children

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Posted: Monday, July 1, 2019 1:36 pm

The Revival of Cultural Arts at Carlotta K. Petrina Cultural Center hosted a book reading by Los Angeles-based actor, filmmaker and now children’s author, Yelyna de Leon Saturday morning.

Her bilingual book, “Yely’s First Day” is semi-autobiographical and talks about the struggles she, and many children, face when they move to the United States and don’t speak English.

De Leon was born in Chicago but moved to Tampico, Mexico, at the age of 3. She came back to the United States when she was 7 and said she had a hard time at first because she was afraid other children would make fun of her for not knowing English.

“ Kids are at a point right now where anything is possible, so, if they get to meet the author, if they get to hear the story of the author, of someone who looks like them, that it’s like them, it is very inspirational for them,” she said. “I feel that it is very important to inspire the kids and to be a positive role mode and to be out there with the kids so they actually see that there are successful Latinas, Latinos, Mexican-American, Mexicanas and Mexicanos because they exist.”

During her book tour, De Leon also visited a bilingual school in Matamoros. She said it is important to her to be close to her Mexican roots because while growing up she would spend every summer back in Mexico visiting family.

Nowadays, De Leon still visits Mexico regularly, especially Tampico, where she imparts workshop classes for children who are interested in the arts.

“ I think it is important for Mexican-Americans to stay connected to their roots in Mexico because all that heritage and customs will go to the future generation,” she said.

De Leon is currently working on a script for a movie that she hopes to film in Brownsville. She is working closely with the cultural center and the Brownsville Film Society to support local artists.

Hilda Maria Ledezma, Founder of Revival of Cultural Arts, said it is important for the community to have role models that look and talk like them.

“ She switches from English to Spanish, her skin color, it is very, very important to have that person whom you identify yourself with,” Ledezma said. “Our community needs these role models that they can identify with and we are creating those bridges to bring opportunities that can be extended to our local talent.”

De Leon said she remembers Brownsville from when she had to wait for hours at the former bus station on Main Street to board a new bus for Tampico. She said she loves Brownsville’s beauty and unique bicultural customs.

“ I am very proud of my heritage. I am very proud of being Mexican-American and I am very proud of being bicultural because that is who I am,” she said.

To download the book for free, visit ReadConmigo.org

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com

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