Like a door-to-door salesman, a truck filled with Spanish-language books is traveling the streets of San Diego, promoting literacy for the Latino community. There are 53 million Spanish speakers in the United States and 33.7 million of them are of Mexican descent. The project, which is set to travel to at least five other US cities, is the brainchild of the Mexican publishing house Fondo Cultural Económica (FCE).
“Instead of waiting for readers to go looking for books in Spanish, from now on, the books will go out there, on the streets, to look for readers,” FCE director José Carreño Carlón explained in a press release.
The first Book Truck will start in San Diego and then travel to at least five other US cities
After touring San Diego, the first Book Truck will next head to Los Angeles before traveling east to New York, Chicago, Laredo, Miami and “all those cities where the Latino community asks for it,” noted the press release. According to the Census Bureau, California, Florida and Texas are home to 50 percent of the US Latino community.
One of the priorities of the project is to promote reading among children and teens. Half of FCE’s catalogue is geared toward this demographic. Though the publishing house is an independent entity, it receives funding from the Mexican government. FCE runs 37 libraries: 26 in Mexico and 10 others throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
FCE was founded in 1934 by Mexican historian Daniel Cosío Villegas to translate economics books into Spanish in order to make them available to university students. The company expanded with the help of the Spanish community in exile after Spain’s Civil War. It has published more than 10,000 titles and nearly 100 collections.
“Many parents have approached us in San Diego asking for books in Spanish because they want their children to keep their mother tongue,” Dorina Razo, FCE’s general manager in the United States, told Channel 6 in San Diego.
Organizers have likened the mobile library to traditional ice-cream trucks, riding around neighborhoods inviting the community to join them in reading Spanish-speaking books.
Translation by Dyane Jean François