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Let's Celebrate our Differences! Part One

By Linda Wilson @LinWilsonauthor

In June, I had the pleasure of participating in the conference at the Albuquerque Convention Center for Inspire 2022: Celebrating You! Emerging Voices, Expanding Libraries, at our Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Teachers from all over New Mexico came to learn about our terrific diverse authors who have written books to enlighten children on topics that haven't been well known in the past.

The importance of windows and mirrors in children’s lives, a phrase first coined by educator Emily Styles in 1988, cannot be overstated. Windows to see outside of our own lives; mirrors to see ourselves reflected in the world, so we don’t feel alone.

The authors and illustrators of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter offer some of the best books, in my humble opinion since they are my close colleagues, for parents, grandparents, guardians, and educators to offer children about a variety of diverse topics. In this post, I’d like to introduce three of the NM-SCBWI members who attended the conference, and their books.

Alexandra Diaz: A quote that best describes books by Alexandra Diaz, an award-winning children’s and YA author: “Writing: to experience life in someone else’s shoes.”

Santiago’s Road Home, described by Kirkus in its starred review describes this book as “A must-needed wake-up call;” and School Library Journal calls the book “Harrowing but deeply illuminating.” It is about a young boy who gets detained by ICE while crossing the border from Mexico to the United States.

Find this book and Alexandra’s other terrific books at

Khadijah VanBrakle: Khadijah VanBrakle writes stories about characters, like her three daughters, who are both Black American and Muslim. Khadijah says, “It is vital for children and teens from those intersections to see themselves on the printed page.” Watch for Khadijah’s up-and-coming books to be published soon.

Learn more about Khadijah and how she can help you become a writer like herself at

Sandra Aguirre-Magaña: Sandra Aquirre-Magaña wears many hats. Her professional ones include teaching in the El Paso Public Schools, storytelling that she first learned at the Golden Apple Foundation and today tells original stories that she has developed, which are inspired by her grandmothers’ varied and entertaining tales from their childhoods in Mexico, which shine with modern twists that reflect Sandra’s delightful and magnetic personality. Sandra is also a writer. Her latest book is the chapter book for upper elementary children, Las Tres Toronjas. Written in both English and Spanish, the English translation is The Three Grapefruits: A Fairytale Retold.

Visit Sandra at to learn more about her fascinating world and all she has to offer.

Please note: You will find that the characters in my books are diverse, too; ahem, well, if you are willing to include packrats as a diverse species of the animal kingdom.

Next post: “Children’s Books that Celebrate our Differences,” Part Two, will introduce you to three more NM-SCBWI authors who write books that celebrateour diversity: Kit Rosewater, Laurie Goodluck, and author/artist Zahra Marwan.

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