Juliana Anthony Hernandez and Elena Gaona saw that something was broken, so they decided to fix it.
For years Anthony Hernandez and Gaona, both 48, realized that there were not enough books with stories depicting Latin children. So in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, they worked on their dream of opening their own publishing house.
Now, in 2022, he meets La Joya Press, a new children’s book publisher that seeks to promote multicultural stories. It became a reality thanks to the collaboration of two Latin friends and mothers: the bilingual teacher Anthony Hernández and the former reporter Gaona.
His first book: “Entre Amigos (Entre Amigos).” Written by Anthony Hernández i Gaona, with illustrations by Mexican artist Ely Ely, the book explores healthy friendships, which the authors believe are critical to the joy and well-being of children.
“I always thought that one day I would write books, a lot of books, that could tell the stories of our culture,” said Anthony Hernandez, a resident of La Jolla and a veteran public school teacher.
Gaona, who has been a reporter for various media outlets over the years, including The San Diego Union-Tribune from 2003 to 2007, and who later worked with nonprofits, agreed that she grew up looking for various stories.
“When I was little, I wanted to see books with characters that looked like me,” said Gaona, who lives in Washington, DC. movies and popular book series, there’s still a lot to tell, a lot more to go through. As a mom, I want to offer this to my daughters and other sons. “
The book, published on June 15, shows examples of what good friendships are. The text of the book is written in both English and Spanish. The idea is for children to be able to learn new words in both languages, the authors said.
One plan is for this book to be the first in a series of three: “Between Friends (Between Friends),” “Between Family (Between Family),” and “Between Community,” Anthony said.
“I see it as a project for teachers and parents to have something to read to their students or children at home,” he said.
With La Joya Press, which means “jewel” in Spanish, Anthony Hernández and Gaona want to offer opportunities for authors and illustrators to tell stories that represent all cultures.
Gaona knows how difficult it is: she once wrote a children’s book (“Maya, Tortilla Princess”) and for years she couldn’t find anyone to publish it. He now plans to do so with the new publishing house he helped found.
“As a journalist, we always want to tell stories that are not seen … to give voice to our people and our culture.”
An event will be held on Sunday, June 19 to celebrate the launch of both the book and the new publisher. The celebration will take place from 2pm to 4pm at Warwick’s in La Jolla (7812 Girard Avenue, La Jolla). The book can be purchased at LaJoyaPress.com.