English professor focuses latest book on civil rights leaders

Brown monica

A champion for English and Spanish literacy, author Monica Brown has released her seventh bilingual children’s book, Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/Lado A Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez.

The book chronicles the inspiring story of the fight for the rights of farm workers in 1960s United States.

An award-winning author and NAU English professor, Brown has written several children’s books about historical figures from the United States and Latin Americas. Her latest book includes the little-known but influential woman who made a big difference in the lives of migrant workers.

“I wanted to tell Dolores Huerta’s story,” Brown said. “Few people know the important role that she played as co-founder of the United Farm Workers movement. And I wanted my daughters to know that women can be incredible leaders in the fight for change.”

With colorful and engaging illustrations, Side by Side captures the attention of young readers while unfolding a vibrant tale of the efforts of the two heroes.

Brown’s first book, My name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz, won the prestigious Americas Award for Children’s Literature and a Pura Belpré Honor.
"Side by side"Known for being actively involved in literacy programs throughout the United States, Brown recently was a guest of the U.S. Embassy in Panama for the annual Feria del Libro, a book festival that draws thousands of visitors.  During her visit, she spoke with future teachers about literacy and the importance of children’s literature.“It was so unexpected to receive an award for my first children’s book,” she said. “Being able to write for children is a gift in my life.”

“It was wonderful to represent the United States and Arizona,” Brown said. “I had the honor of reading to children at a poor school and at a children’s hospital, and none of the children had met an author in person before.”

As a regular guest author in schools around the U.S., Brown says she enjoys the visits because of the effect it has on children when she starts to speak.

“I begin in Spanish, and I can see the shock in their eyes as children mouth the word ‘Wow,’” Brown said. “No one at their school has ever spoken Spanish to them through a microphone.”

Listen to her recent interview on KNAU.