Winter Institute Book Drive to Collect Spanish-Language Titles for Refugees

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Booksellers, authors, and publishers attending the American Booksellers Association’s upcoming Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are invited to donate Spanish-language books for refugees who are waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border.

ABA’s “Libros Para el Viaje” (“Books for the Journey”) book drive at Winter Institute will collect books of all genres for children and adults, which will be distributed to families, individuals, parents, and children who have arrived at the southern border from Central America and Mexico, usually with nothing.

Attendees who are interested in participating should drop off new or gently used books at the Wi14 welcome desk at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, where booksellers pick up their badges; the drop-off spot will be indicated by signage. In addition, ABA will contribute 50 Spanish-language books to the collection.

The idea for the drive originated with Denise Chávez, owner of Casa Camino Real Book Store and Art Gallery in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since summer 2018, Chávez has been distributing books to refugees in her hometown of Las Cruces by way of Peace Lutheran Church, under the direction of the Border Servant Corps (BSC), a refugee hospitality center that partners with other centers in the region.

Here, Chávez offers some specific guidelines for booksellers, authors, and publishers on choosing the right Spanish-language book. In addition, Veronica Liu, founder of Word Up Community Bookshop in Washington Heights, New York, and BrocheAroe Fabian, owner of River Dog Book Co. bookmobile in Wisconsin, have come up with their own lists of books, which are now posted on BookWeb. Liu, Fabian, and Chávez are all founding members of ABA’s Diversity Task Force.

After the books are collected at Winter Institute, Chávez will work with local volunteers to organize and distribute them to refugees who are staying at local hospitality centers that connect refugees with their sponsors. Many of these refugees have arrived from larger hospitality centers like Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, one of four shelters that assist reunited families detained and separated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Booksellers and others who would like more suggestions for Spanish-language books are invited to contact Chávez via e-mail.