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Celebrating literature

Highlights from the Latino Book & Family Festival

April 08, 2012
By Wendy Moncada

CICERO, Ill. — The 13th annual Latino Book & Family Festival held at Unity School, 2100 S. Laramie Avenue, came to a close on Sunday, April 1, after drawing thousands of Chicago-area bibliophiles to the weekend-long celebration of Latino literature and culture.

The fair is the product of a collaborative effort between actor and Latino Literacy Now Board Member Edward James Olmos, the festival’s presenter, and Zeke Montes, host of the Latino Book & Family Festival in Chicago and owner of Tele Guia Inc. A similar event is also held annually in Los Angeles since 1997 with the purpose of advancing the cause of reading and promoting literacy in the Latino community.

“As Edward James Olmos would say, the most important thing that we can do is read at home and literacy is the thing for Latinos to do every day,” Montes said during an interview with ABC Chicago during the festival.

Although a gymnasium-sized book sale offering discounted titles by Latino writers and translated best-sellers was the focal point of the festival, there were no “keep quiet” library signs within sight at this book fair. Visitors were spread out throughout the festival’s eight different villages designed to showcase area businesses and organizations serving Latinos. The villages were made up of over 140 exhibitor booths divided by themes including culture, education, health, my home, technology, and graduations and quinceañeras.

A main stage and a family stage also drew crowds to live entertainment and book readings by local talent and media celebrities during both days of the festival.

The weekend lineup of exhibiting authors included well-known Latino personalities like Antonio Vazquez Alba, better known as “El Brujo Mayor.” Recognized primarily as a Mexican sage and psychic to the Latino community for over 35 years, Vazquez was there to present his latest book, “Los niños de la Super Raza” (Children of the Super Race).

Unlike other books he’s written, his latest work is a how-to to help children develop their mental powers; it is intended for both child and adult readers. Vazquez said he was inspired to write a book about “indigo children” — a term used to describe children with supernatural or special abilities — by memories of his experiences raising his four children.

Businessman and financial columnist Carlos Flores, also present at the event, received recognition from the festival for “Best Business Book” for “Mercadotecnia Evolutiva” (“Evolutionary Marketing”), a book featuring more than 100 strategies to help any business increase sales and growth.

“There are a lot of Hispanic business owners out in the suburbs, but very few resources to help them,” said Flores.

“I want to reach out because there’s something different about books written by Hispanic people in their language that you don’t get from a translation,” he added.

Mexican author turned entrepreneur Rosy M. Hugener also attended the fair hoping to provide opportunities for the community as well. She founded Shared Pen, a publishing company with a mission to help publish and promote the work of first-time Latino authors at low cost. The idea for her company was driven by the labor to publish her own work, “Xtabentum: A novel of Yucatán,” a story inspired by her investigative journey into the historical roots of her ancestral tree, one of the most prominent families in Yucatán.

For a complete list of books and authors recognized during the festival please visit And for extended coverage of the book fair and celebrities who attended visit

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