When Jacquelyn León was writing the book Yo Soy, I Am!, she never thought she would get it published, let alone do book signings and sell it out of bookstores.
“I didn’t think I would be at a bookstore having a book signing or publishing. It was a gift to my great-niece to remind her of her family,” León said. The book tells the story of Khyla Susana, a young bicultural girl who learns the story of how her name came to be through love, family, and culture. “It highlights family culture and history. From here, the great city of Trenton makes the world takes and Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment… It helps us think about our children, particularly our black and brown children as at-promise children and ensuring that in our schools in our classrooms, our teachers are pronouncing our names correctly…”
León, a Trenton resident, explained she wrote this book to teach her grandniece the importance of embracing the history and culture of both of her parents. “It was just important for me to connect her to her history… Often in our communities, we are almost challenged to pick one. With increasing multiculturalism and interracial marriages and partnerships, we want to make sure that our children and our families embrace them all,” León said.
Eric Maywar, Owner of Classics bookstore, explained that Classics is home to the authors in Trenton looking to make their books known. “We do book signings all the time…supporting local authors is part of one of our missions…I know lots of authors that love writing books…then want to go and start writing the next thing one, they don’t want to be promoters have their own book,” Maywar said.
León said that coming out to Trenton to advertise her book is also telling the story of the community, especially to students. “There is a social justice aspect to making sure that people of color tell their stories from their own narrative and their own point of view… you’re a writer, when you’re writing your essays at school, or when you’re writing in your journals, or your diaries… Oftentimes, academia makes us think that authorship is out of reach, right? And it isn’t. It is something that is accessible to our students,” León said.