“Fondo de Cultura Económica”, a Mexican book publisher, launched a book truck at Ruocco Park in San Diego during the weekend, in cooperation with the Mexican Consulate in the county. According to the director of “Fondo de Cultura Económica”, JoséCarreño Carlón, the book truck aims to promote literacy and the learning of the Spanish language, specifically among those children with Latin American parents. He also added that Spanish is the language that protects and unites them, thus they embarked on this project. Although apolitical, he somehow touched on the topic of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s going on and because of this, it had become more urgent to unite the Hispanic communities in the United States. The Mexican Consul for San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau was present at the launch. She said that the project promotes pride in their heritage among children of Hispanic immigrants.
Since most of the children of Hispanic immigrants tend not to speak their mother tongue once they start school in the U.S., Carlón said most of the reading materials in the book truck are children’s books in Spanish.
Among those present during the launch was 6-year old Kaily and her father, Ismael Gonzalez. She looked at some of the children’s books and she said that the book truck is a good idea because her parents speak Spanish. Her father on the other hand brought her there to spark her interest in learning the language, which he said had deteriorated once she started school. Aside from polishing the Spanish language skills of his children, Ismael Gonzalez also wishes for their Mexican roots to be understood by his children.
Expansion of the book truck service
“Fondo de Cultura Económica USA” revealed their plans to expand their Spanish-language book truck program to Los Angeles and have additional trucks to service other areas in the U.S. At the moment, the book truck travels to a new place within the San Diego County each day.
It is an example of cultural diplomacy according to Jose Luiz Martinez who is the international affairs director of the National Council for Culture and the Arts. The book truck will travel across San Diego, then move to Los Angeles before traveling to other U.S. towns and cities with large Hispanic communities, including Miami, Laredo,Chicago, and New York. About 50 percent of the Latino community in the U.S. is concentrated in Texas, Florida and California, based on the data from the Census Bureau.
Daniel Cosío Villegas, a Mexican historian, founded Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE) in 1934. At that time, the founder wanted to translate books in economics into Spanish so that they could be available to students in university. Today, while working independently, the Mexican government provides them with funds. The FCE manages 26 libraries throughout Mexico and maintains another 10 libraries serving the Spanish-speaking communities around the world.
Image credit: Cynthia P. Cordero at Fondo de Cultura Económica USA