Pam Muñoz Ryan, Children's Literature Lecturer

Words Take Wing: Honoring Diversity in Children's Literature

Peter J. Shields Library Lobby Display Cases - Winter Quarter, 2005

In honor of the Second Annual UC Davis Children's Literature Lecture, the UC Davis University Library presents an exhibit of selected works of noted young adult and children's book author Pam Muñoz Ryan. Ms. Ryan will be the featured speaker at the Mondavi Center on February 1, 2006.


Pam Muñoz Ryan, a native of the San Joaquin Valley, has written over 25 books for children and young adults. She grew up in a large extended family, and has stated that "[I] consider myself truly American because my heritage is part Spanish, Mexican, Basque, Italian, and Oklahoman." Ryan received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at San Diego State University, and currently lives in north San Diego County.

Her work has received numerous awards, including the national Willa Cather Award and the Pura Belpré Medal, which honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a children's book.


  • Nacho and Lolita, illustrated by Claudia Rueda (2005)
  • There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve, illustrated by Dennis Nolan (2005)
  • Becoming Naomi León (2004)*+
  • Box of Friends, illustrated by Mary Whyte (2003)+
  • How Do You Raise a Raisin?, illustrated by Craig Brown (2003)+
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, illustrated by Brian Selznick (2002)+
  • How Do You Raise a Raisin?, illustrated by Craig Brown, (2002)+
  • Mud Is Cake, illustrated by David McPhail (2002)+
  • Mice and Beans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (2001)*+
  • Hello, Ocean, illustrated by Mark Astrella (2001)*+
  • Esperanza Rising (2000)*+
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, illustrated by Brian Selznick (1999)+
  • Funnie Family Vacation, illustrated by William Presing and Tony Curanaj (1999)
  • Riding Freedom, illustrated by Brian Selznick (1998)*+
  • Doug Counts Down, illustrated by Matthew C. Peters (1998)
  • Doug's Treasure Hunt, illustrated by Jumbo Pictures (1998)
  • Armadillos Sleep in Dugouts: And Other Places Animals Live (with Diane DeGroat), (1997)
  • California, Here We Come!, illustrated by Kay Salem (1997)*
  • Pinky Is a Baby Mouse: And Other Baby Animal Names, illustrated by Diane DeGroat (1997)
  • The Flag We Love, illustrated by Frank Masiello (1996)*+
  • The Crayon Counting Book, (with Jerry Pallotta), illustrated by Frank Mazzola, Jr. (1996)
  • One Hundred Is a Family, illustrated by Benrei Huang (1994)+

* Titles available in Spanish language editions
+ Titles on physical display in the library's exhibit

See also the DVD, Good Conversation! A Talk with Pam Muñoz Ryan (2002). Pam Muñoz Ryan talks about her award winning book Esperanza Rising and how it parallels her grandmother's voyage from Mexico to the United States. She reads from her book Hello Ocean from the shore of the Pacific and gives insight into the writing process. (20 minutes).

Awards & Selected Reviews

The Flag We Love

  • Early Childhood News Director's Choice Award, 1997
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book, Social Studies, 1997

"In a series of earnest verses, Ryan introduces young readers to our national symbol and the ideals for which it stands . . . the result should delight Yankee Doodle dandies everywhere, and could help spark discussion on the basic elements of democracy."
Publishers Weekly, Feb 5, 1996 v.243, issue 6, p88

The Crayon Counting Book

  • Children's Choice, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council (IRA/CBC), 1997

A Pinky Is a Baby Mouse

  • Pick of the List, American Bookseller
  • Bank Street Best Books of 1998
  • IRA/CBC Children's Choice

Riding Freedom

  • Reading Magic Award, Parenting Magazine, Most Outstanding Books, 1998
  • Teachers Choice Award, 1999
  • National Willa Cather Award for Best Young Adult Novel, 1999
  • Award of Merit, Southern California Center for Literature for Young People
  • California Young Reader Medal, 1999-2000
  • Arizona Young Reader's Award, 1999-2000

"The true story of Charlotte "Charley" Darkey Parkhurst, a woman who lived her life disguised as a man so she could be a stagecoach driver, is the basis for this ebullient and tautly structured novel . . . With a pacing that moves along at a gallop, this is a skillful execution of a fascinating historical tale."
--Publishers Weekly, Feb 2, 1998 v.245, issue 5 p91

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride

  • Pick of the List, American Bookseller, 1999
  • Best Children's Book list, New York Public Library, 1999
  • Reading Magic Award, Parenting Magazine, 1999
  • American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book, 2000
  • Teacher's Choice Award, IRA, 2000
  • Oppenheim Platinum Award, 2000
  • Best Book of the Year list, Los Angeles Times, 2000
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2000

"Beautifully illustrated in shades of mauve, gray, and white, this book is a delight--whisking the reader away into the night sky and back to a time when women like Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were pioneers in their respective fields."
--Childhood Education, v.76, issue 3 (Spring 2000), p174

Esperanza Rising

  • 2001 ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
  • Smithsonian Best Books 2000
  • Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Books 2000
  • L.A. Times Best Books of 2000
  • Excellence in a Work of Fiction Award 2001, Children's Literature Council of Southern California
  • 2001 Judy Goddard/Libraries Limited Arizona Young Adult Author Award
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
  • Pura Belpre Award, 2002

"Ryan poetically conveys Esperanza's ties to the land by crafting her story to the rhythms of the seasons. Each chapter's title takes its name from the fruits Esperanza and her countrymen harvest, first in Aguascalientes, then in California's San Joaquin Valley. Ryan fluidly juxtaposes world events (Mexico's post-revolution tensions, the arrival of Oklahoma's Dust Bowl victims and the struggles between the U.S. government and Mexican workers trying to organize) with one family's will to survive--while introducing readers to Spanish words and Mexican customs."
--Publishers Weekly, Oct 9, 2000 v.247, issue 41, p88

When Marian Sang

  • Parents Choice Award Winner (Gold Award, picture book, ages 6-10)
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • ALA Sibert Honor Award, ALA Notable Book
  • 2003 Orbis Pictus Winner for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
  • Vermont Center for the Book's Best of Beyond Difference 2003
  • 2003 NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
  • 2003 Jefferson Cup Honor, Virginia Library Association

"The lush, operatic style, passionate words, and beautifully detailed, sepia-tone pictures fit the subject of this picture-book biography about the great vocalist's triumph in the face of the vicious segregation of her time."
--Booklist, Jan 1, 2003 v.99, p799

Becoming Naomi León

  • Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award
  • International Reading Assoc. Notable Book for a Global Society
  • American Library Association Notable Book
  • American Library Association Schneider Award
  • New York Public Library's Top 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • NECBA's Top Ten Fall Children's Books (Northeast Children's Booksellers' Association)
  • 2004 Parents' Choice Silver Honor
  • 2004 Américas Award Commended Title
  • Booksense Book of the Year Honor (American Booksellers' Association)
  • NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts

"Naomi's matter-of-fact narrative is suffused with her worries and hopes, along with her protective love for her brother and great-grandmother. Ryan's sure-handed storytelling and affection for her characters convey a clear sense of Naomi's triumph, as she becomes 'who I was meant to be.'"
--Kirkus Reviews, Sept 1, 2004 v.72, issue 17, p873