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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On “These children need a champion” (from 2015)

jimenez_taking hold“Dr. Jiménez deserves to have the school named after him, but even more than that, our students need it. I’ve been an aide in this school district for twenty-six years, and I’ve seen how much these children need a champion. They need someone to relate to, someone from the same background who has succeeded, to show them that the fields aren’t their destiny. It’s about time that they had a hero of their own! Dr. Jiménez is a perfect choice.” —Gretchen Bircher

Two years ago, the Horn Book’s own Katie Bircher interviewed her mom, Gretchen, who was an instructional aide at an elementary school in Santa Maria, California (she’s since retired). Mother and daughter talked about Gretchen’s campaign to name a new school in her district after author Dr. Francisco Jiménez, who was a recipient of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and a graduate of the district’s schools.

Gretchen knew that Dr. Jiménez’s road to success, documented in his novel The Circuit and its sequels, would resonate with her district’s population, many of whom are part of immigrant families from Mexico who have come to California for a better life.

If advocating for vulnerable groups, such as the children of farmworkers, was important in 2015, it’s even more critical today. Read and be motivated for change.

[Spoiler alert!]

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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