Book Talk: How John Parra Puts His Whole Self Into His Art

Are you trying to learn how to better support the child in your life as they explore who they are? Do you want your child to understand slivers of the world that are beyond their day to day? Welcome to Book Talk, our recurring series that goes behind-the-scenes into your child’s reading development journey!

Here at ColorPop Books, we surround ourselves with books of all kinds so we can work together with you to help our kids grow into their best future selves. One thing we’ve learned is that stories mean the most to their audience when they’re personal. An illustrator who paints a city block just like the one they grew up on, a writer who pens a story about their grandmother: when creators put themselves into their creations, we feel closer to them – and that connection lets us feel closer to our own stories, too.

Nobody understands this better than John Parra, award-winning author and illustrator and one of the Latinx creators featured in our Latinx Voices Book Bundle. John grew up in Santa Barbara, California and spent his days drawing and exploring. Inspired by images from his everyday life, both John’s writing and drawings are known for their vibrancy and their ability to leap off the page. For him, inspiration lives in Mexican murals splashed on the sides of buildings; papier-mache piñatas; Surrealism; regional cuisines; dance costumes; and memories of family characters. He’s proud of his Hispanic heritage, and it’s easy to feel that pride flow from the tip of his pen to the heart of his readers. 

Growing An Artist, illustrated and written by John and recently awarded CLASP’s 2023 Américas Award, is a beautiful example of the ways in which John brings his whole self into his art. This poignant tale begins with Juanito’s excitement that he finally gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect. As Papi shows him the ropes, Juanito learns that pride – in owning one’s own business, in doing beautiful work, and in getting to pass on one’s business to one’s son – is something that no one can ever take away. Creating Growing An Artist gave John the opportunity to write about the bond he shares with his own father, but it also gave him a chance to connect that personal story to his values: that hard work matters, that creativity and the arts have the power to change the world, and that you should always be proud of who you are and where you come from.  

We love celebrating creators like John during Latinx Heritage Month and beyond – because it’s never a bad time to explore what inspires you! With heritage-focused book bundles like the Latinx Voices Bundle, the Black Joy Bundle, and the Indigenous Stories Bundle, we aim to give you an opportunity to celebrate your child’s whole self, as well as introduce them to new cultures and ways of being. Available year round, these bundles make for the perfect storytime, no matter the month or the season.

So this month, grab a book, cuddle up with your kiddo, and let your whole self shine!