Leticia Ordaz: Breaking Her Own Barriers & Helping Others With Books

/ February 5, 2023

Leticia Ordaz is the founder of the bilingual publishing house Cielito Lindo Books and is an award-winning children’s book author at the International Latino Book Awards. She is also an Emmy-nominated anchor/reporter in Sacramento, California. 

Helping Others With Books

Leticia is the author of “The Adventures of Mr. Macaw,” “That Girl on TV Could Be Me! The Journey of a Latina News Anchor,” “Mr. Macaw’s Paleta Adventure,” “The Carousel King and the Space Mission,” and her upcoming March release, Mr. Macaw Lost in the Big City.

As a literacy ambassador, she is excited to share bilingual stories with children around the world, She enjoys helping underserved communities, children, and all those who may be seen as the underdogs and loves giving people the confidence to not settle and to go after their dreams.

As a news anchor and author, Leticia has been featured on many top media organizations, such as  KCRA (NBC), MY58, Estrella TV, Telemundo, Fox, KFBK radio, Insight on Capital Public Radio, Fuego 101.9 FM, and more. She is very active in her advocacy for children’s literacy through her work in event sponsoring, such as book donations for Reading is Fundamental, Casa Hogar in Cabo San Lucas, literacy programs for children impacted by hurricanes in Puerto Rico including a publishing workshop for Puerto Rico’s Department of Education.

Leticia’s Mission as an Author for Kids

Statistically, Leticia hopes to break the barriers which currently show only 7% of children’s books featuring Latinx characters or subjects, with only 10% of all authors and illustrators in the U.S. being Latinx, and she looks forward to publishing the stories of other authors who are underrepresented.

“I want to be known for inspiring kids to pick up a book not just because they have to for school but to discover reading is fun.” Says the author of the Mr. Macaw series, who aims to inspire kids to believe in themselves so that they too have the power to share their own stories. “We need more diversity in books, and I want to plant the seed early for our future authors.”

Helping Others With Books

Leticia’s Journey of Breaking Her Own Barriers & Helping Others

Leticia was 5 years old when she realized she wanted to be a news anchor to give her community a voice. “I would watch the news and ask my Mami why no one on TV looked like me.” She recalls. “She told me that one day I would go to college and be that girl on TV, and she was right! It also inspired me to write my children’s autobiography, That Girl on TV Could Be Me! The Journey of a Latina News Anchor”.

Today, Leticia wants children around the world to see themselves in her books and to know that they are important and that their stories matter. “When I was growing up, I didn’t see many books with Latinos as protagonists and that really bothered me,” Leticia mentions, “I felt like society didn’t feel that we were worthy.”

Helping Others With Books

Now, as a Latina mother of two Spanish-speaking boys, Leticia wants to create bilingual books for them and other children to choose from. After spending countless nights translating picture books for her children in Spanish, she decided it was time to write her own stories for the world to read.

“When I had my debut book in 2020, the world welcomed me with open arms. Through Zoom I had the opportunity to read to children in hospitals and in their living rooms. Children shed tears of joy and so did parents. They let me know how happy they were that the characters in my book looked like them. They said it made them feel proud to be Latino and to speak another language.  It’s also helped all children see their classmates and neighbors in a positive light. Diversity in books transforms entire communities.” — Leticia Ordaz

Leticia’s Joys & Inspirations

Leticia’s sons, Maxton and Bronx, inspire the author every single day. They love the creative process of writing books and sharing potential ideas, titles, and plots with her whenever they can. They even inspired her to write “The Adventures of Mr. Macaw” and “The Carousel King and the Space Mission”!

Another tremendous inspiration for Leticia is her mother, who would always take her and her sister to the library for books to read to them at night. An immigrant from Mexico to Galt, California, with only a 6th-grade education, Leticia’s mother would often make up her own stories to her daughters along the way when she found herself not being able to finish the library books in English. However, despite her limited education, to Leticia, her mother is the smartest person she knows – someone who was able to accomplish so much by not only becoming a homeowner in a foreign country with a language barrier but also able to place an emphasis on higher education for her children.

Leticia also cites her own 6th-grade teacher, Mr. Heinrich, as a source of inspiration growing up. Although Leticia was a shy kid in school, it was Mr. Heinrich who kept on encouraging her to believe in her own self and dreams. Thanks to him, Leticia would often practice reading in the mirror at home for two hours a day to practice her public speaking skills, and now she gets paid to read the news and write children’s books for a living!

Leticia’s 3 favorite quotes are:

  • Ms. Leticia, Mr. Macaw has taught me that I’m important. What happens to kids matters to the community” by Elena, 3rd-grader from Chelsea, Massachusetts.
  • “Mommy, you are changing lives by letting kids that they matter, and that makes us so proud of you.” Leticia’s sons, Maxton and Bronx.
  • “Leticia’s author visit was superb. She shows children bilingualism is critical and you can do whatever you put your mind to,” Cicely, Principal from Vacaville, California.

Closing Messages: Working Together for the Greater Good

“It takes a village to raise readers and it’s my mission to team up with organizations and schools to help kids fall in love with reading.” Says Leticia, who reminds us that kids who are good readers are less likely to drop out of school. “It’s my life’s mission to reach vulnerable communities and provide quality books for them. Some children don’t have a home library and that is something that I can help change by putting books in their hands that they will want to read.”

If Leticia could go back in time and tell her younger self a single piece of wise advice, it would be to keep reminding herself that she deserves a seat at the table, and if one doesn’t open, then she should set up her own table and invite others to sit with her. “When some major publishers didn’t think my books should be bilingual, I created my own publishing house, Cielito Lindo Books.” States Leticia, “Today, my company is leading the way to create books that kids will want to read over and over. We have partnerships with school districts all over the country, distributed tens of thousands of books, and won some big awards, including 7 International Latino Book Awards.”  The success of Cielito Lindo Books is proving that Latinos Do Read and are yearning to buy quality books.  “It’s not enough to translate a book in Spanish or another language.  Authors must represent the authentic voices of the communities they are writing about.”  Leticia has recently teamed up with Scholastic for “Rising Voices” K-5 Classroom Library Collection.  Be on the look out for That Girl on TV Could Be Me! The Journey of a Latina News Anchor.

To find out more about author Leticia Ordaz and her work, feel her to visit her website, CielitoLindoBooks.com, or follow her on any one of her following media pages:

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