Alma Flor Ada

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by rebeccaprice
Last updated 8 years ago

Language Arts
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Alma Flor Ada

Alma Flor Ada

Information and Resources

Selected Works

Acclaimed children’s author and bilingual educator Alma Flor Ada was born on January 3, 1938. She spent her childhood in Camagüey, Cuba and loved to hear her grandmother share poetry and Cuban folktales. At the age of seventeen she left Cuba after receiving a scholarship to attend Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado. She went on to earn a degree in Hispanic Studies from Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain and a Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, Peru. She has published numerous academic articles on bilingual education pedagogy and literary works. Ada began her illustrious career as a children’s author in Peru, where she wrote high school textbooks and a picture book that sold tens of thousands of copies. Her first work published in English was The Gold Coin, which was awarded the Christopher Award Medal in 1994. Over the course of her career, Ada has published more than 200 children’s books and has earned many prestigious awards and honors for her work. She has collaborated with numerous Hispanic writers such as Isabel Campoy and her son Gabriel M. Zubizarreta, and her text has been paired with the work of many acclaimed illustrators, such as Simón Silva, Kate Kuchera, and Leslie Tryon. Frequent themes of Ada’s works include family, friendship, celebrations, and particularly Hispanic culture and folklore. These themes reflect her passion for the appreciation for the Spanish-speaking world and her dedication to promoting multicultural education. Ada currently serves as a Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco and as a renowned advocate for social justice.

Under the Royal Palms (1998)In this Pura Belpré Award Medal winner, Ada shares several short narratives of her childhood in Camagüey, Cuba. Featured topics include family memories, daily rituals, and holiday celebrations, and the the text is interspersed with black and white childhood photos, which help bring the stories to life. The collection not only allows readers to learn about the author, but to also encourages them to compare and connect their lives to Cuban culture.

Notable Awards


Fulbright Scholar Research Grant



Dancing Home (2011)A collaborative effort between Ada and her son Gabriel M. Zubizarreta, this tween novel presents the story of Margie and Lupe, two cousins grappling with their Mexican heritage and what it means to be a Hispanic American. The story is told in the third person and features chapters that alternate in focus between the two main characters. Dancing Home poignantly narrates the girl’s developing views on identity, friendship, and what it means to be home and could serve as a jumping-off point for discussions on immigrant culture.

Tales Our Abueli­tas Told (2006)Co-written with Isabel Campoy, this collaborative collection of classic Hispanic folktales invites readers into a zany world of dancing goats, feather-swapping birds, a beautifying bath, and much, much more. Each story contains playful illustrations and an ending note from Ada explaining its cultural context. This delightful read gives is provides a fun way to learn about Hispanic culture, and was awarded the Lit­er­ary Guild Medal in 2006.

The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding (1993)Inspired by one of the author’s favorite childhood stories, this rhythmic folk tale follows a muddy-beaked rooster as he struggles to get cleaned up before his uncle’s big day, until his friend, the sun, agrees to help him out. The repetitious text is great for early readers and is complimented by Kathleen Kucher’s beautifully kaleidoscopic illustrations.

The Gold Coin (1991)This Christopher Award Medal winner follows a thief named Juan as he pursues Dona Josefa—and the gold coin he hopes to steal. Along the way Juan learns about the power of helping others and is inspired to give up his thieving ways. The text is accompanied by Neil Waldman’s striking water-color illustrations and is a great book to jump-start a discussion with children about morality.

Christopher Award Medal (The Gold Coin)


Gathering the Sun (1997)This Pura Belpré Honor Book presents a simple, yet impactful, poem for each letter of the alphabet in both Spanish and English. The bilingual text paired with the Simón Silva’s boldly-colored illustrations poignantly describes the daily life of migrant farmworkers from a child’s perspective. This stunning piece gives young readers the opportunity to explore the culture of migrant work.

Dear Peter Rabbit (1994)This charming picture book presents a unique twist on the timeless children’s tales, Goldilocks, the Three Little Pigs, and Peter Rabbit. The stories are seamlessly interwoven into a collection of letters sent to and from each tale’s major characters and are complimented by cheerful full page illustrations. Dear Peter Rabbit gives readers the chance to reimagine these tried-and true tales.

Resources, Extension, and Bibliogrpahy

Once Upon the World Award (Gathering the Sun)



CABE Lifetime Achievement Award


Vrginia Hamilton Literary Award

Pura Belpré Award Medal (Under the Royal Palms)

Author Photo and Cover images retrived from


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