Journalist Maria Hinojosa seeks to inspire young people with suitable memoir

Pulitzer winner and pioneering Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa recently adapted her 2020 memoir, Once I Was You, for young readers. The latest version is aimed at readers ages 8 to 12 in hopes of inspiring young people to become journalists, especially Latino children, who Hinojosa says make up the majority of the Latino population in the United States.

“Hinojosa delves into issues of mental health, identity, representation, sexism, elitism, impostor syndrome and finds her way into the highest echelons of American education and media,” reads a Kirkus Reviews article about the book. “This powerful adaptation of the highly acclaimed 2021 original for adults is as relevant as the title suggests and will reflect readers who see their lives in it. A timely and important story skilfully adapted for young people.

A 2019 study from the Pew Research Center found that the most common age for Latinos was 11, compared to 58 for whites.

“I was like, yeah, I’m not writing for kids,” Hinojosa said in an interview with NBC News. “But then you think about ages — the median age of Latinos and Latinas in the United States — I have to write this book.”

“I want them to see each other and hopefully become journalists, at least some of them,” she continued.

The memoir takes an in-depth look at the background of Hinojosa and her family. She examines her personal childhood experiences and everything that led her to become a journalist and why she chose this path. It chronicles her birth in Mexico, Chicago and New York as she goes through life trying to find herself and pursue her dreams.

Hinojosa is able to return to her childhood and recover all crucial memories, including attending a protest with her family when she was eight years old, which she credits to being socially open in her mind. She mentions how she would watch 60 Minutes and not understand why it was always white men. Hinojosa also recalls watching West Side Story and feeling verified about her Latino heritage after seeing the main character named Maria.

In an interview with USA Today, Hinojosa said she felt responsible “to be there for young Latinos and Latinas basically, immigrants and refugees basically because the book is about those of us who are ” the other “”.

“It’s also just a book about trusting and discovering your power in your own voice and your own stories as a little child, and hopefully inspiring some to become journalists,” she said. declared.

In a white-dominated field, there isn’t as much representation for Latinos or any other group in newsrooms, and in any media outlet across the country. This is an area that needs rejuvenation among young people to inspire a new generation to continue in professional journalism.

“We are in a country where nearly one in five people is Latino,” said Yvette Cabrera, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “If newsrooms don’t reflect the diversity of their communities, it will be difficult to cover those communities, understand them, and move beyond superficial stories.”

The book published by Simon & Schuster is now available.

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