A Literary World for Children and Young People

By Karla Ortiz

Children who follow stories such as El peinado de la tía Chofi (Aunt Chofi’s Hairstyle), Fuiste tú (It Was You), or Había una vez pero al revés (Once Upon a Time but the Other Way Around), were able to actually meet the author of these books, Vivian Mansour, thanks to the Libros para todos project.

This organization is responsible for obtaining donations of books that they distribute as gifts to children in rural communities. Later, teachers, volunteers of Libros para todos, and the authors of the books visit the communities. The authors give a short lecture to explain a little bit about their books and get to know their young followers.

During the week that Vivian Mansour, a children’s story writer, visited several schools and communities, she finished her presentation at the San Miguel Playhouse. The writer had visited United Nations, Guadalupe Victoria, and the Special Education School, and she went to communities such as Huizachal, Guadalupe de la Canal, Los Ricos de Abajo, La Cuadrilla, Don Diego, Saltrillo y Lindero de la Petaca, Casa Esperanza, Kumon, and the Jorge Ibargüengoitia Reading Room.

At the San Miguel Playhouse, some little ones from Casa Esperanza gave a short play based on the book La Vida Útil de Pillo Polilla, and the Special Education School taught a sign language class. Later, Vivian explained the stories of Aunt Chofi’s Hairstyle, It Was You, and Once Upon a Time but the Other Way Around. At the end, the children filled the room with questions and wonderings about the books. They then approached Mansour to autograph their books.

In an interview with Atención San Miguel, Vivian Mansour revealed some of the secrets of her career. She says she was very lucky with her career as a writer. For many years she was dedicated to the creative area in advertising agencies, where she developed her creative potential by imagining ideas for hundreds and hundreds of advertisements for products like shampoos, conditioners, self-service stores, and medicines. This field forced her to focus her creativity on specific, concrete things. Although it was very satisfying to see her advertisements in magazines, Mansour confesses that advertising is very ephemeral work in which ideas pass away and are soon forgotten. She feels it does not have the same importance as concentrating those efforts on a book. “When I first saw a book of mine published, I decided that was my path,” she said.

Advertising was good for a while to exercise creativity, but it was time to find a different meaning, to move in a freer world likes the world of literature, and above all, to expose the children to the world that Vivian wanted to share, so they could discover that reading is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Her storytelling history began during the economic crisis that hit the country in 1995, when businesses wanted to pay the least amount of money for advertising. Although she didn’t lose her job, she didn’t have much to do. While reviewing the newspaper, she saw an invitation to write a children’s story. She didn’t think twice and agreed to tell a story that would catch the attention of the little readers. The story she sent was Aunt Chofi’s Hairstyle, for which she has great affection because everything started with it. That story was the winner of the contest. After that first story, her luck continued. With her next two books, she also won contests, which inspired her to keep going. Today Vivian has 20 titles published. She considers it a challenge for both her and Mexico to reach a specific audience. Carefree and without the demand to create something or read, that audience is the young people. The trend has been for them to lose the habit of reading. Regardless of the textbooks, the challenge is to let them know that there are different literary genres that can attract their attention depending on their personalities. Just as there are schoolbooks, there are also nonfiction books, funny books, horror stories, and novels.

“I think that every year the reading issue has improved a lot. Little by little, significant efforts have been made. There are many programs from the government or institutions,” added Mansour.

She also revealed that she has a story in progress dedicated to the adolescent sector. Her stories are always very light and humorous, but now she has taken the risk to write a more intense, denser story, without forgetting her special touch that gives the humorous sparks, the factor that she considers as the one that makes the connection with her readers.

Vivian Mansour sent a message to her small readers and young people to motivate them to include themselves in the literary world:

“Writing is a very pleasant activity, and it is even more enjoyable to continue with the stories, imagining what we would have liked to see happen or inventing a world that does not exist. To write, you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Anyone can do it and express their thoughts. The important thing is to know what words to use to communicate all our stories effectively. No matter if you want to write or not, you have to try to put your feelings and emotions into words. You will see that in the end the feeling is very pleasant.

 

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