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🎧 The Reader's Heart | Guest: Jasminne Mendez


Like a lot of library and kidlit folk, each year I try (and fail) to predict which books will win a coveted ALA Youth Media Award in January. An aside: one of my favorite traditions is meeting with John Schu in the weeks leading up to the announcements, so that we can compare our predictions. As you might expect, John's predictions are typically much more accurate than mine! That said, in keeping with my streak of wrong guesses, this year I was convinced that Jasminne Mendez would pick up a Schneider Family Book Award nod for Aniana Del Mar Jumps In - a book that features a main character with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Spoiler alert: I was wrong! However, Jasminne's beautiful book did pick up a Pura Belpré honor that morning, which I was anxious to ask her about! I loved chatting with Jasminne about what that morning was like for her and about why creating characters whose voices aren't often seen in literature for young people is so important to her. Jasminne was a joy to chat with and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!



  • GUEST: Jasminne Mendez

Jasminne Mendez is a best-selling Dominican-American poet, translator, playwright, audio book narrator and award winning author of several books for children and adults. Including the middle grade novel in verse Aniana del Mar Jumps In (Dial) which received the 2024 Pura Belpre Honor Award. Her other books have received prizes from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Writer’s League of Texas and the International Latino Book Awards. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni. She is the Program Director for the literary arts non-profit Tintero Projects and she lives and works in Houston, TX.



Please enjoy a special discount of 20% off the titles mentioned in this episode (or others of your choice) by visiting Bookelicious and using the code JENNIFERLAGARDE. Note: I do not make any money from the sales, but I am delighted that you get to save some!

Connect with Jasminne:


Rooted in the belief that our world needs the magic of children’s literature now more than ever, the Reader’s Heart podcast captures conversations with authors and illustrators about children's literature as a vehicle for empathy and joy in a dark world. I'm so excited about this project and it's my wish that it brings you as much light and hope as it has brought me.

Special thanks to Corinna Luyken for creating the beautiful illustration that will serve as the show's logo. I've always found Corinna's art so moving and she perfectly captured the spirit of what I am trying to do, which is to put warmth and love into the world during a time when so many are working to limit kids' access to the warmth and love inherent in children's literature. (Also, don't forget, you can use the discount above to buy Corinna's books from Bookelicious, too!)

Weekly episodes will drop on Tuesdays. Once you've had a chance to listen, I hope you will consider leaving The Reader's Heart a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review! Podcast reviews are one of the best ways to support your favorite shows and help others find these conversations.



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