Pura Belpré

Storyteller en la Biblioteca

Pura Belpre putting on a puppet show Pura Belpre medal

In 1921, a Puerto Rican teenager traveled to New York City with plans to stay just long enough to attend her sister's wedding. Instead, Pura Belpré remained in the city for the next 61 years, becoming The New York Public Library's first Puerto Rican librarian and one of the city's most eloquent champions of Latino culture.

Belpré worked primarily at the NYPL's 115th Street branch, amid southwest Harlem's burgeoning Puerto Rican population. To attract local families, she introduced bilingual story hours and puppet shows and hosted celebrations of El Día de Reyes (Three Kings' Day). She called on schools and reached out to community groups in countless ways.

Disappointed by the dearth of children's books on Latino themes, Belpré wrote her own, starting with the now-classic Pérez and Martina. Since 1996, the American Library Association and its affiliate REFORMA have issued an annual award named in Belpré's honor to recognize outstanding Latino writers and illustrators.


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Pérez y Martina by Pura Belpré cover, a well dressed cockroach is being romanced by a well dressed mouse

Perez y Martina: Un cuento folklorico puertorriqueno

Written by Pura Belpré

Illustrated by Carlos Sanchez

1961