I believe that creating children’s books has the potential to be one of the most radical things you can do!

About this video:
In March of 2007, Maya spoke with KPFA Women’s Magazine’s Lisa Dettmer about the illustrations for her children’s books. This video is a short snippet from the full interview. (find the full audio interview at the bottom of the page)

Transcript of the Video:

The art was a medium that we could create a presence with each other and that was really why I was illustrating. When I illustrate books for kids, I’m thinking about those kids really consciously.

I put a lot of prayers, I energetically embed prayers into my paintings because when I was growing up those books didn’t exist that reflected my experience. Not only the fact that I was Chicana but that I was living through a lot of difficult times and stresses and so I want children to know that they are not alone when they are having very complicated and sometimes very difficult feelings that I don’t think are…we don’t have a context to acknowledge that for kids.

So when I would go into the classrooms what I realized was that I could be very present and really what I noticed..it’s not about teaching them to draw a face, it’s just teaching them to be very present for a moment with me and giving them the tools that art was some way that they could also be very present with themselves. It didn’t matter what it looked like at the end of the day, it could look like…it could look hideous…then that was good to me that they were keeping a kind of presence with themselves and also a consciousness where they could express things that didn’t have words.

So what I’ve noticed over the years is that my books have been the presence that I kind of send out to those kids, I can’t be there with each kid for that hour or whatever but my books can and that I think is what’s important.

You can listen to the full interview below that also included Amada Irma Perez, author of Nana’s Big Surprise and Patricia Villasenor from Children’s Book Press. The interview begins with a short reading from the book, Nana’s Big Surprise.