Family's Struggles Led to Series of Novels for Youths; Author Gloria Velasquez Part of Much Ado about Books Program

Article excerpt

Byline: NIN-HAI TSENG, The Times-Union

Poet and author Gloria Velasquez has pride in her humble upbringing. Growing up in northern Colorado, she was the daughter of farm workers who had little access to books and even less access to libraries.

Stories had more to do with the ramblings of parents and Mexican grandparents, less to do with books and novels.

So not surprisingly, she recalled, it was their narration of struggles and events that inspired her to be what she described as a humanitarian writing about social issues for young adults.

"My life is truly a miracle," said the 54-year-old author, known for the Roosevelt High School series. The books feature adolescents of different ethnic backgrounds.

On Friday, Velasquez, in her sing-song style of speaking, stressed the passion, hard work and education to about 40 students at Jefferson Davis Middle School.

She and 20 other authors visited schools throughout Jacksonville as part of Much Ado About Books, an annual fund-raiser for the city's public libraries.

Today, various panel discussions featuring Velasquez and dozens of other authors will be at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The sessions, other than the lunch, are free and open to the public.

This is Velasquez's second visit to Jacksonville. Her first was during the 2000 fund-raising event.

Her series, which she started in 1994, comprises five works targeted toward a young and ethnic audience. …

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