“Emma was a phenomenal visiting author for our middle school students!” —Kelsey Cohen, Hommocks School Literacy Ambassador

EMMA OTHEGUY writes about Latin American history and contemporary Latine identity for children. Her bilingual picture book, Martí’s Song for Freedom, about Cuban poet and national hero José Martí, received five starred reviews; was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the New York Public Library; and was the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Award in Intermediate Nonfiction. Her middle-grade novel Silver Meadows Summer, was called “a magnificent contribution to the diversity of the new American literature for young readers” by Pura Belpré-winning author Ruth Behar.

Emma co-authored, with Newbery Honor-winning author Adam Gidwitz, The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Madre de Aguas of Cuba, a magical adventure set in contemporary Cuba. She also contributed to the new Carmen Sandiego universe with her book Secrets of the Silver Lion. Her newest novel, Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene, is a coming of age story about a Cuban-American girl trying to figure out where she belongs—both in her ballet-loving family and the wider world. Her I Can Read books, Reina Ramos Works It Out! and Reina Ramos Meets a BIG Puppy, are perfect for teaching social emotional learning. Her newest picture book, Martina Has Too Many Tías, is a magical bilingual story that reimagines the beloved Caribbean folktale “La Cucaracha Martina.”

Emma holds a Ph.D. in History from New York University. Before becoming a writer and historian, Otheguy graduated from Swarthmore College, sold books at an independent bookstore, and taught elementary-school Spanish. She lives in New York City.


About the Visit

As a former teacher, Emma loves visiting schools and talking to young readers! She offers hands-on workshops as well as assembly-style presentations, and as a native bilingual in Spanish and English she can speak in either language (or both). Below are some of her program offerings, which can be tailored for your audience.

REINA RAMOS WORKS IT OUT! (Grades K-3): This presentation introduces kids to Reina Ramos and her community. Kids will learn about the famous people in the book, like Celia Cruz, Frida Kahlo, and Roberto Clemente, and talk about how Reina and her best friend Lila work out a disagreement. The presentation will include an engaging reading and Q&A.

SOFÍA ACOSTA MAKES A SCENE (Grades 3 & up): Emma will explore the central themes of her new book, including sibling rivalry, immigration history, life in the suburbs, and, of course, ballet. Kids will learn about how the dance traditions of the United States and Latin America are intertwined. Sofía develops into an outspoken advocate as she discovers her family’s immigration story and her own voice, so this presentation is ideal for immigration units and classes exploring change-making and activism.

SILVER MEADOWS SUMMER (Grades 3 & up): In this presentation about family, friendship, and immigration, Emma will talk to students about the personal experiences that inspired Silver Meadows Summer: growing up Cuban-American, spending summers with family in Puerto Rico, and falling in love with farms and forests while working in upstate New York.

MARTÍ’S SONG FOR FREEDOM (Grades 3 & up): This presentation introduces students to the culture of Cuba and the very important connections between Latin America and the United States. Emma will discuss the power of change-makers like José Martí and the value of poetry and literature as bridges between cultures.

SECRETS OF THE SILVER LION: A CARMEN SANDIEGO STORY (Grades 3 & up): Students will learn about the real-life culture and history that inspired Carmen Sandiego’s latest quest, as well as the research smarts Carmen uses to crack the secrets of the silver lion. Emma will invite questions about international travel, historical research, writing original stories about favorite characters, and growing up bilingual and bicultural.

A SLED FOR GABO (Grades K-3): Emma will talk to students about diverse snow day

traditions, and how her experiences differed from other children’s when she was growing up. The group will discuss the challenges and joys of making new friends in a community, particularly if you feel left out at times. She will also introduce the Latin American treats in A Sled for Gabo, such as dulce de leche and guava.

POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP (Grades 4 & up): This workshop uses Robert Frost and Antonio Machado’s poetry (each quoted in Silver Meadows Summer) as models to help students express their hopes and fears through poetry. The group will brainstorm emotions, fears, and dreams, then write a mimic poem. To conclude, students are invited to write a free verse poem.

CHANGE-MAKERS WORKSHOP (Grades 3 & up): The workshop begins with brainstorming important figures in history and how they changed the world, and ends with the group writing newspaper headlines and letters from the perspective of historical figures. Students, particularly students from diverse backgrounds, have the opportunity to integrate their own heroes and role models into this workshop.

Emma is also available for keynotes and presentations at educator conferences and professional development events.


“I highly recommend having Emma come to your school. During her visit, my fifth grade students learned much about José Martí and Cuba and made strong connections to their learning from other classes. Just as important, they had a good time! Emma forms a good connection with students from the moment she starts speaking, using their existing background knowledge and interests to keep them engaged.”—Sereena Hamm, Librarian, Washington Latin Public Charter School, Washington, DC

“She was warm, funny, and engaging. One of our students felt so comfortable she shared a piece of her own writing with Emma. She listened attentively and made the young writer feel so valued and accomplished. Her presentation was informative and well-prepared. I highly recommend Emma as a visiting author.”—Kelsey Cohen, Hommocks School Literacy Ambassador & District Library Curriculum Specialist, Mamaroneck UFSD, NY

“Emma Otheguy’s visit was a wonderful experience for our school. Emma instantly connected with our students and our staff was captured by the sharing of her writer’s notebook. The way she answered questions from the students really made them feel seen and understood. I could see it in their faces. Our students are grateful for how she showed up for them.”—Betsy Quinn, Library Media Specialist, Glenwood Avenue School, Wildwood, NJ

“Emma was completely prepared and engaging. The students asked a wide array of questions about her creative process, inspirations, the publishing business and personal stories as they related to her books. I think the students really enjoyed the folktale of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach and hearing from an author who shared so much about her multi-cultural experience.”—Kathleen Walsh, PTA Volunteer, Salt Brook Elementary, New Providence NJ

“It was lovely having Emma at our school. As a dual language school, we love having authors that are bilingual and can read and speak to students in Spanish. Emma came very prepared and answered many student questions. Alcira Jaar, Assistant Principal, Dos Puentes Elementary, New York, NY

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