books and hispanic students

Finding a book and an education

April 20th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

For many years, Raymond Villareal served as a school teacher in the Dallas Independent School District before moving on to being a reading coach. During the years that he taught sixth grade, he struggled with getting the young boys to read books, especially the Hispanic boys.

He knew that something had to change if these boys were going to succeed in completing their education.

“So that sparked his interested,” said Raymond’s wife, Sylvia Villareal, who is a school teacher herself. “He wanted to write a book that would interest the boys that age.”

So write he did. For about 10 years he worked at writing stories targeted at fifth-grade to ninth-grade Hispanic boys and connecting his works with publishing companies. He hoped that someone also would catch his vision to encourage young Hispanic boys to read by connecting them with literature based on their Mexican-American heritage.

“There really isn’t a lot of literature out there about Mexianc Americans,” Sylvia said. “There are a lot of books written from Spanish or Peurto Rican authors, but we Mexican Americans don’t nevessarily identity with foreigners like this. We are Americans but we are bi-cultural… My husband wants to portray true life characters. These books are written with Hispanic characters, Mexican American characters who are primarily English speakers and who don’t speak Spanish well.”

Raymond was able to publish his first book, My Father, the Angel of Death, five years ago. This fictional book is about a young Hispanic boy whose father is a professional wrestler and shares about the life that they encounter. Since the first book, Raymond has been able to publish three more similar books as well as a short story.

In addition to what Raymond is doing to help young Hispanic men catch the vision of reading, Literacy ConneXus is also helping Hispanic children learn to read and grow their skills through Books for the Border. Books for the Border is a collaboration of Literacy ConneXus, churches and community groups who together can make a significant impact on Texas children and families stuck in poverty because of unmet literacy needs. (Information taken from

With the highest level of illiterate adults living along the Texas/Mexico border and with many of them not even able to read or write in Spanish or English, Literacy ConneXus is trying to impact the next generations by equipping them with the tools and skills to learn to become literate. Click here to see a literacy map of Texas to help you grasp the need for ministries like Literacy ConneXus.

Recently, the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas members got involved with Books for the Border as they built bookcases for the program and donated more than 2,000 books to the effort during their annual meeting in Georgetown.

Literacy ConneXus is proactive about connecting ministries like the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas with those in need of education help as well as placing appropriate age-level books in the hands of families who are struggling in poverty and struggling with illiteracy. To donate books to the effort, contact Lester Meriwether for more information.




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