Naibe Reynoso, a multi-Emmy award-winning journalist and author is set to release her new children’s book with Con Todo Press, “Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America who Changed the World” on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day.
Reynoso said she decided to write her new book in the spirit of Women’s History Month as a way to celebrate legendary Latin American women, whose stories are not as well-known.
“Part of the problem is that we should be learning about all kinds of different women, not just the go-tos, like the Frida Kahlo’s and Celia Cruz’s,” said Reynoso. “I love Celia Cruz. I love her music, you know, but we also need to learn about the hidden figures — the other women that have made an impact or have changed their communities that are not talked about.”
Reynoso’s upcoming title will also add to her “Little Biographies for Bright Minds” series, a collection of bilingual children’s books, written in Spanish and English, that focus on historical Latinx leaders around the world. Outside of her educational series, she is also the author of “How to Fold a Taco,” a more personal story filled with whimsy and adventure that comes in the form of dragons, dinosaurs, and her family taco recipe.
Reynoso’s new book will highlight 11 stories about past and contemporary Latin American women who made an impact in various fields. Reynoso spoke about these women’s legacies and why she felt it was important for children to read, learn, and commemorate their stories today.
“Every woman has a different kind of story and a different source of inspiration,” she said. “And as little girls and women, we all have different passions, so I really wanted to make sure that all kinds of different passions are reflected in the book.”
One of the trailblazers featured in Reynoso’s new storybook is Ecuadorian aviator Hermelinda Urvina who became the first South American woman to receive a pilot’s license in 1932.
“Back in that time, it was so difficult for women to become pilots or to even aspire to become pilots,” she said. “[Urvina] was a really good role model in breaking barriers and showing other women and other little girls that reach for the stars no dream is too big.”
Reynoso also said it was a “must” to write about the iconic Frida Kahlo whose paintings reflected her Mexican culture and whose activism went beyond artwork.
“We all know who Frida Kahlo was. She also broke a lot of barriers for women,” explained Reynoso. “Her paintings are worth millions and millions of dollars and she was a feminist and she really advocated for the indigenous communities.”
The recent U.S. presidential election also motivated Reynoso to write about a female president. She explained that there are many women political leaders in Latin America, but she chose to highlight Laura Chinchilla, the former president of Costa Rica.
“Because we’ve never had a female president here in the United States, I wanted to show little girls, and no matter what their background is that they could aspire to one day become president like Laura Chinchilla was in Costa Rica,” said Reynoso.
Reynoso also decided to feature world-renowned musical icon Celia Cruz whose mastery of Afro-Cuban music styles earned her the title as the “Queen of Salsa.” Reynoso felt that it was vital to include Cruz’s story, because of the positive impact she had in many fans’ lives, including her own.
“There was a moment in my life where I was actually a journalist. I was flown out to work in Arizona and it was kind of lonely,” said Reynoso. “You know, things were happening in my life — a very dark, dark place in my life.”
But it was Celia Cruz’s uplifting music that allowed Reynoso to overcome her personal struggle.
“I remember listening to her song ‘La Vida Es Un Carnaval’ — ‘Life Is A Carnival’ which basically says enjoy life, leave your worries aside, you know,” said Reynoso. “We’re only here for a short amount of time so enjoy it. Life is a carnival.”
During her career as an entertainment journalist, Reynoso had the chance to personally meet and interview Cruz in 1998 when the singer was still alive. Cruz even signed Reynoso’s DVD and snapped a photo with her, making it much more personal to honor the late music icon in her book of female heroes.
“The impact [Cruz] had in culture and especially in the Latino community is that she just filled the world with joy, with hope, with smiles,” shared Reynoso. “And it was really special for me to include her in the front cover and in my book because her song, her music pulled me out of that dark depression that I was in.”
These are just four of the 11 Latinas in Reynoso’s upcoming book, but there are so many other names the author plans to highlight in the future, including a woman hero she admires in her personal life — her mother.
“One of my next books, which is already written and is almost done illustrating is an honor to all of the immigrant moms, because my mom is an immigrant, she came from Mexico,” she said. “They are warriors, but they never get accolades and never get recognition.”
While Reynoso shared about her mother and her recipe in “How to Fold a Taco,” she hopes this next book will amplify and commend the inspiring stories of her mother and other immigrant mothers.
“That book is dedicated to people like my mom,” shared Reynoso. “Immigrant moms, like I said, are hard workers that just want a better life for their children and they never get that recognition.”
When Reynoso isn’t using her storytelling to advocate for underrepresented voices, she said she is proud to be a mother to her son and daughter and loves teaching them how to be an entrepreneur and business person.
“I always try to include them in the process of my entrepreneurial journey, I always ask them for advice about titles and illustrations, and because I feel like I am showing them the power of being an entrepreneur of creating something from scratch,” said Reynoso. “Hopefully, it’ll kind of plant the seed for them in the future, if that’s something that they want to pursue — entrepreneurship.”
Though Reynoso has spotlighted dozens of change-making Latinx figures in her children’s book series so far, she said there are still so many men and women whose stories have yet to be told and celebrated.
“I want to do a book about Afro-Latinos. There’s a big, you know, movement to honor Afro-Latinos, because in our community, a lot of Afro-Latinos are not highlighted, and they’re not showcased,” she said.
All in all, Reynoso is dedicated to adding to her ever-growing library of Latinx biographies, so that young minds can continue to read about and admire diverse individuals.
“It’s always a challenge to narrow it down to 11, but because there were women that I left out...that inspired me to keep creating more and more books with different themes, so we can keep learning about all of these wonderful, wonderful leaders,” said Reynoso.
Celebrate Women’s History Month and check out “Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America who Changed the World” on March. 8.
Check out our Facebook Live with Naibe Reynoso for a reading and discussion of one of her other books, “How To Fold a Taco.”
Here at Dímelo, we cover many stories featuring Latinx women all year long. Subscribe to our social media accounts for more content.