Ask a Latina to share memories from her childhood and there’s a high chance there’s stories of practicing Selena’s washing machine dance moves, belting out “Como La Flor” or handcrafting a bustier for Halloween. For many of us, memories of the Tejano music queen are still palpable. Her legacy remains relevant because we can remember her on the stage at the Grammy Awards and how the image of a successful Latina star made us realize our own ambitions were also possible.
One of the most harrowing aspects of Selena’s passing was the recognition that future generations wouldn’t have such memories of her, but in the 22 years since her death these fears have largely been debunked. If anything, the legacy and fandom of the Mexican-American singer has gained even more momentum, particularly with fans who never got to see the singer live. The proof is in a new children’s book about the artist due to hit shelves next March. And it’s already topping Amazon’s #1 Best Seller’s list and beating out Harry Potter on the site’s Children’s Spanish books division.
“The Life of /La Vida De Selena” is a bilingual children’s book about the late singer.
This is our way of saying thank you, Selena. Thank you for your music, energy, and love. The love you had for us – your community. But most importantly thank you for allowing us to dream just like you did. This is how we can thank you. By never forgetting you; by sharing your smile, music, and life with our children. By reminding them that you were us. That you loved and sang in two languages. That wherever you went you were proud of who you were and where you came from. By keeping you part of our family just like our parents did when you were here. This is for you. Thank you. ?
The book is a story about about Selena’s love of pizza, familia and her fans. In an interview with Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, the writers and publishers behind the book, FIERCE learned what inspired them to use Selena as a children’s book character.
For Stein, Selena was an influential part of her childhood.
CREDIT: @ariana_stein / Instagram
“I was 10 years old when I learned about Selena. It was right after the release of ‘Como la Flor’ and it was truly love at first sight,” Stein tells FIERCE.
She still holds onto the memories of dancing at home with her sisters and competing to see who could be the most like the Texan singer.
“It was our way to bond,” she says. “We still laugh about it to this day. Her music brings so many great childhood memories.”
As is true for many Latinas, Stein found herself inspired just as much by Selena’s beauty as she was by her heart.
“I saw a special person with so much talent that looked like me. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to grow up to be just like her,” Stein explains. “Her story inspired me to dream, work hard, never give up and give back.”
Rodriguez, Stein’s publishing and writing partner, also clearly remembers how Selena’s story impacted her and her family.
CREDIT: @pattyrodriguez / Instagram
“I think the biggest thing that has stayed with me all these years, is when we found out of her passing,” Rodriguez admits, recalling the tears that formed in her father’s eyes when he heard the news. “I got very scared. I had never seen my dad cry before. It was unbelievable. He was glued to the TV watching everything unfold. We could not believe it. We lost a family member that day. She was part of our family.”
To Stein and Rodriguez, the artist’s story is reflective of the two cultures the Latinas from California were raised in.
CREDIT: @pattyrodriguez / Instagram
The biographical children’s book comes packed with Latino pride and encourages children of Latin American families to embrace where they come from. It also is a step in providing Latino children representation in the books they read, where they can see and hear about a person they can see themselves in. This is particularly important to the writing duo, who point out that of the 3,400 books published in the US last year only 166 books had significant Latino content.
“I’m a strong believer that children need to learn about icons that made a huge impact in their community,” Stein says. “Selena is a hero. She gifted many of us the power to dream big. She brought her community together. She was kind, humble, and giving. If we can introduce her story at the earliest age, and teach them about the impact that she brought to her community even 22 years since she left us, children will build confidence and learn that they, too, can dream.”
“The Life of/ La Vida de Selena” isn’t the only book by Stein and Rodriguez that focuses on prominent Latinas. They’ve also written children’s books about painter Frida Kahlo and salsa singer Celia Cruz, all of which have been published by their company Lil’ Libros. The book will be available to readers on March 6, 2018.