The Hispanic Division and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress co-hosted the 1996 Americas Award with the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).
During the July 18 event, Rep. Major R. Owens (D-N.Y.), said, "Libraries are the most important centers for children and youngsters to learn about their heritage. As a librarian myself, I am always happy to come to the Library."
The Americas Award for Children and Young Adults recognizes books published in the United States (picture books, poetry, fiction, folklore) the previous year in English or Spanish that depict imaginatively the experience of Hispanics or Caribbeans in the United States.
Additional welcoming remarks were delivered by Georgette Dorn, chief of the Hispanic Division, and John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book. Julie Kline, president of CLASP, based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, introduced Graciela Italiano of the Center for the Family in Lake City, Utah, who presented the 1996 Americas Picture Book Award to Carmen Lomas Garza for In My Family/En Mi Familia (San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 1996). In this bilingual picture book aimed at all ages, Lomas Garza celebrates Mexican-American culture and shares memories of growing up in her hometown of Kingsville, Texas, near the Mexican border. Her paintings of children and adults playing and working together depicts the multicultural society of the Western Hemisphere.
Lorelle Henry of the Borough of Manhattan Community College gave the 1996 Americas Award for fiction to Victor Martinez for his book Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida (New York: HarperCollins, 1996). The story of Manny Hernández narrated by Martinez in Parrot was also the winner of the 1996 National Book Award for Juvenile Literature. The experiences of Manny introduce the reader into the world of a Mexican American youth in California.
July 18 was Victor Martinez's first visit to the Library of Congress and both he and Carmen Lomas Garza were given a tour of the Jefferson Building and the "American Treasures" exhibition by Reynaldo Aguirre.
Each awardee was given a special Guatemalan weaving and a diploma. The award ceremony was attended by staff members of congressional offices, children's librarians and members of the Latino and the academic communities and followed by a reception during which the authors signed books. The event was coordinated by Mr. Aguirre, senior bibliographer of the Hispanic Division, and Ana Kurland, program assistant.