Welcome to WNDB’s Fall Book Club! Today we are so happy to welcome award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh. Here’s Duncan, along with two special guests, talking about his book, Separate is Never Equal (Abrams, 2014), and the inspiration behind it.
As you begin exploring Separate is Never Equal, please check out this educators’ guide produced by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs on behalf of the Américas Award, to help encourage discussion and engagement. Included are comprehension questions, follow-up activities, and a further reading list.
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[Let’s Talk About Political Activism] credits
[WNDB Fall Book Club] credits
DUNCAN: Hi everyone, my name is Duncan Tonatiuh, and this is Maximo and this is Vida [children are sitting in his lap, Duncan is holding a copy of the book] and this is my book Separate is Never Equal, or in Spanish, Separados no Somos Iguales. [Duncan holds up a copy of Separados no Somos Iguales]
It’s a book I wrote and illustrated and it tells the story of the Mendez family and of other Latinx families that fought to desegregate schools, because in the 1940s when this story takes place, schools in California were segregated and Mexican-American children, Latinx children, they were not allowed to go to school with white children. But the Mendez family, and these Latinx families, fought to change that.
And California was the first school to desegregate, was the first state to desegregate schools. And I learned about this story recently, a few years before I made this book, and I thought it was an important piece of American history and that’s why I wanted to make this book, so more readers would know about it.
Because not a lot of people know about this story, and I also made it because I think even though things are very different now, 70 years after this took place, more than 70 years after, there’s still a lot of division, a lot of segregation that exists in schools in the United States, and I thought that readers, young readers, might identify with this story and that this book would resonate with them. So that’s why I’m made it.
[Kids yell: Yay Papa! Yay Papa!]
CREDITS: Produced by JoAnn Yao
Edited by Anya Steiner and JoAnn Yao
Graphics by Amber Hooke
SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL: SYLVIA MENDEZ AND HER FAMILY’S FIGHT © Duncan Tonatiuh and Scholastic