Suggested Reading for Pat Mora’s My Own True Name

05 Apr

By Tanya Baylon, Christopher Duong, Travis Edwards, and Ruby Ruiz

1.  “The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature – Theory Overview.” The Annenberg Foundation. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.

In this hour-long video from the Annenberg Learner, Pat Mora is seen at the twenty-minute mark teaching in a classroom. During her lecture she reads the teenage students one of her poems. We get to see how Pat Mora emphasizes the tone and pace of various words in her poetry. In the student exercise, we get to hear teenagers interpret Mora’s poems. At the end of her lesson, she explains the poem she read and the actual story behind it. It is interesting to learn, for example, how she takes the life story of a friend and transforms it into a poem. By learning the exact background information of the poem, we see how she incorporates her culture into her works.

2.  Melendez, Maria.  “An Interview With Pat Mora.” An Interview With Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.

Pat Mora has written six bilingual poetry books. On the Latino poetry review website there is an interview between Maria Melendez and Pat Mora. During her interview she mentions that My Own True Name was assembled after a librarian said more books with a Latino focus were needed for high school students. Mora later says she finds ways to incorporate not only Spanish but other languages into her work. In the interview she brings up the fact that about 2% of the 5,000 children’s books published each year are by or about Latinos, which can cause conflicts in educational success because not enough books are published for Latino/a and other children who want to learn about the culture.

3.  Mora, Pat. “Bookjoy!: Books for Teens.” Bookjoy! Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.  <>

This is Pat Mora’s personal blog, Bookjoy!, which she started in 2008. Its main focus is “celebrating the zing of creativity, reading, and día.” The posts include discussions of Latino children’s literature and community partnerships as well as interviews with various authors. More specifically, she has a category on her blog labeled “books for teens.” In this section, she has interviewed authors who write in the same genre as My Own True Name, such as Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Dr. Carol Brochín Ceballos, and Christina Díaz Gonzalez. Her interviewees span from award-winning authors to teachers with published novels. These authors have a lot in common with Mora, and it sounds like their books do as well, as they typically involve bicultural and bilingual characters and plot lines. Mora also has posts encouraging teens to ask her about her latest young adult books.

4.  Mora, Pat. “Bookjoy!: Dizzy.” Bookjoy! Pat Mora. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.  <>

Mora, Pat. Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Print.

Dizzy in Your Eyes is Pat Mora’s most recent teen book. The collection of fifty new poems express emotions as Mora thinks they are experienced by those in their early adult years. Each poem is told by a different (fictional) teen narrator. Her inspiration and incentive for writing this book was finding out that “boys sometimes copied [love] poems and signed their names” and then gave them to girls. Upon hearing this, Mora decided that she wanted to create a book of poems that really speak to her teen audience. With her knowledge of teens copying love poems, she decided to incorporate their interest in poetry into her book. In Mora’s footnotes, she explains the type of poetic form used for each poem. Not only is this an educationally fresh ingredient to her literacy campaign, but it also gives teens motivation to write their own verses.

5.  Mora, Pat. Borders. By Pat Mora, Award-winning Poet and Author of Books for Adults, Young Adults and Children. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.

Borders is one of Pat Mora’s six collections of poetry. The book was published in 1986 and received the Southwest Book award in 1987. The book was aimed at adults and young adults, as it explores political, cultural, social, and emotional issues that shape an individual’s identity and that can divide people. The poems in Borders show how our positions respecting these borders shape how we define ourselves. According to the Bloomsbury Review, in Borders, “Mora confronts the clash of cultures in a courageous, tough tone that masks a gentle sensibility. What finally gives this book its healing power is the mesmerizing honesty of Mora’s celebration of herself as a woman, mother, lover.”

6.  Mora, Pat. Communion. By Pat Mora , Award-winning Poet and Author of Books for Adults, Young Adults and Children. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.

Communion was published in 1994 by Pat Mora and was aimed toward adults and young adults. It is the third of her six poetry collections. Communion is built upon her other writings and her new experiences in life but has more deepness and maturity in its poems. The collection can be universally appealing, since it takes into account the reality of male and female relationships, the pain of separations from children, the significance of one’s homeland, and the traditions affecting one’s life. According to Betsy Colquitt in the Texas Review of Books, Communion “ is aptly titled: her poems often reveal a communion of sorts between poet and subject that inspires the poet’s empathetic, imaginative response.”

7.  “Pat Mora.” Interview by Teaching Books. Teaching Books. 28 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.

In this interview by Teaching Books, Pat Mora discusses not only her writing but also her life and her reasons for writing poetry, her favorite genre. In this interview, she explains that she writes in Spanish to show children who are embarrassed to speak Spanish that there are assets to speaking the language in certain places. In her book Tomas and the Library Lady, for instance, she inserts many Spanish phrases. Mora also explains how she wants her poetry to convey that it is natural for women to be strong and outspoken. In her book Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart, for example, Dona Flor plays a strong female role by showing not great physical strength but a large capacity for love.

8.  “A Video Interview With Pat Mora.” Reading Rockets. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.

Pat Mora is an avid supporter of literacy, especially in children. She is a featured author for a national multimedia literacy organization called Reading Rockets. On their website, a concise biography of Mora is available along with ten video conversations with topics ranging from childhood stories to her literacy advocacy program. The biography expands upon and explores her bicultural upbringing, which provides us with the background knowledge to understand the American and Mexican contexts involved in her poems. The video conversations compliment the biography, with Pat Mora describing her Mexican/American home, and then discuss how and why she writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Mora believes that successful writing is done by “bringing everything we are to the page.” This advice influences her poems about desert culture and ties into the final video conversations, which explain her literacy program for children.

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