Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Three Kings Day

I am posting a week late, pero más vale tarde que nunca.

Today is Three Kings Day.

When it I was growing up in Puerto Rico it was today, not on Christmas, when I received toys. On Christmas I got clothes, shoes, and maybe a box of pencils. Jesus brought those gifts.

(We had no chimney and Santa couldn't come. Now he spends his vacation in Puerto Rico. Wearing a red-and-white polk-a-dot swimsuit and a pava straw hat, he delivers gifts.)

But on the evening of January 5th, I placed a box with grass and a plate with water under my bed for the the Three Kings' camels to eat and drink. The next morning, I found toys in the box. I never forget the tiny dish set and my doll Julita.

Memories like this remind me that I have been blessed.

My first grade teacher Miss Bocachica made a huge difference in my life. (She is in my book In the Shade of the Níspero Tree.)

I didn't go to kindergarten, and when I began first grade, I cried and cried, thinking that, while I wasn't at home my mother would die. Soon I learned that wouldn't happen, and that my mother in school was Miss Bocachica. She made us take siestas on rugs that we brought from home, and she sang to us until we fell asleep.

Miss Bocachica didn't read much to us. Instead she told us stories, stories of her imagination, stories that made me imagine, too.

I didn't leave grass nor water under my bed last night. I didn't have to. I have had all the gifts I needed to become what I am. One of those gifts was Miss Bocachica.


A Teacher's Precious Gift

I have been blessed to know many great teachers during my life, from my high school English teacher, Ms. Stitham, to our own Stephanie Bodeen, who (along with Kirby Larson) mentored me during a summer residency at the Whidbey Island MFA program several years ago. In addition to providing insight, expertise, guidance, and valuable feedback about my work, the most important thing these teachers gave me is encouragement and a belief in my own abilities and potential. I believe all great teachers instill confidence in their students via their passion, knowledge and support. They also inspire by sharing stories of their own struggles and insecurities and, ultimately, success. And so, for all those who have given me – and countless others -- hope: a heartfelt thank you!