Organizers of Latin America’s largest Spanish-language book fair in Guadalajara open a 200-exhibitor fair in Los Angeles through Sunday.
This L.A. book fair is four times as large as last year’s, which was the first one. Observers say it’s already become a touchstone for Spanish-speaking Southern California.
The book fair is called LeaLA (Read L.A., in English).
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed Mexican officials to a city with a 230-year history of speaking Spanish.
Villaraigosa said he may be a Latino, but he didn’t speak Spanish until he entered politics. He thanked organizers for putting together such a wide-ranging Spanish-language book fair.
Rebecca Constantino roamed the fair as a parent chaperone to students at Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, a Spanish dual immersion school. She said it’s a chance for students to see the rainbow of quality literature in Spanish.
"That Spanish is the language of literacy and cognition and solving problems, and it’s rich and there’s multiple stories in Spanish," she explained. "And I think a lot of our culture sees Spanish as just 'this is what the housekeeper speaks,' but really it’s a rich language."
Over 100 authors will talk about their books at LeaLA, from Mexican political writer Enrique Krauze to Sofia Macias, author of the personal finance best seller "Pequeño Cerdo Capitalista" ("Little Capitalist Pig").
L.A. arts lecturer Gregorio Luke said the three-day program is elevating Los Angeles to a first-class Spanish-speaking city.
"This is treating L.A. as if it were Monterrey, Guadalajara or Madrid," said Luke. "In other words, this kind of book fair is something that is amazing."
For its second year LeaLA organizers are offering Southland residents more ways to participate other than walking around and buying books.
Linda Estrella entered the fair’s contest for a Sunday mariachi Mother’s Day breakfast. She had to write a letter, in Spanish.
"This letter is actually to my kids," she said, "asking them to continue speaking Spanish. All three are bilingual. They enjoy the Mexican food. They enjoy the traditions. And I ask them to not forget the trips we did as a family to Mexico."
Linda Estrella was born in L.A. to proud Guadalajara immigrants. She said she’s thankful they taught her to read and love Spanish. Estrella said it’s going to take a lot of effort for the second generation to maintain that gift.