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Author Sandra Cisneros reads to students

cisnerosLast week, award-winning author Sandra Cisneros read live to more than 200 San Antonio ISD students, staff and community members as part of the Office of 21st Learning’s Library Media Services Live Read Aloud summer program. Via Zoom, Cisneros led sessions in both English and Spanish, where she not only read aloud but also participated in Q&A sessions with participants.


“Art is medicine for heart,” said Cisneros. “The magic of poetry is reading it out loud. How do we know how to read aloud unless someone does it for us?”


Cisneros read from her book House on Mango Street and says a lot of her work is based on the spoken word.


“I capture voices and have an oral storytelling type of style,” she said. “You can’t benefit from it fully unless you hear it out loud; hear how I hear these voices. I gathered these voices up and poured them onto the page.”


The Office of 21st Learning’s Library Media Services and the SAISD Foundation teamed up to provide this unique series of live read aloud events for students and families. The SAISD Foundation played an integral role in recruiting celebrity guest readers like Cisneros and Astronaut Bernard Harris. Other notable guests include Creative Director Martha Martinez-Flores, Judge Norma Gonzalez, and Author Tedi McVea.


“In the time of COVID-19, publishers have been very understanding about letting us do read alouds for kids,” said Lorraine Roussin, Library Media Services coordinator. “When you can actively engage with students and have a reader that students are listening to read live, it adds another dimension to the social-emotional impact that we are making. We are providing that comfort blanket to students who miss it, who have missed it for the past four months because of COVID-19.”


Years ago, Cisneros taught poetry at a school in SAISD, and she says she knows how hard this pandemic must be for students and teachers alike. She reminded participants not to give up in the face of difficulty.


“I think this is a sacred time that we are living in; we have never experienced a world-wide pandemic like this, and we can’t escape it,” she said. “I think that students need to be reminded that this is a special time and they are being asked what no other child has ever been asked to do. I see it as we can be our own heroes. We have to rescue ourselves and be brave; this experience will make students be incredible human beings. They will remember this when they are old. They will be able to brag about the pandemic of 2020! They have the opportunity to transform themselves that the hero they only read about.”

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