Side by Side
US Empire, Puerto Rico, and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture
A groundbreaking study on the impact of Puerto Rican children’s literature and culture
Winner of the Children’s Literature Association’s 2023 Book Award
During the early colonial encounter, children’s books were among the first kinds of literature produced by US writers introducing the new colony, its people, and the US’s role as a twentieth-century colonial power to the public. Subsequently, youth literature and media were important tools of Puerto Rican cultural and educational elite institutions and Puerto Rican revolutionary thought as a means of negotiating US assimilation and upholding a strong Latin American, Caribbean national stance.
In Side by Side: US Empire, Puerto Rico, and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture, author Marilisa Jiménez García focuses on the contributions of the Puerto Rican community to American youth, approaching Latinx literature as a transnational space that provides a critical lens for examining the lingering consequences of US and Spanish colonialism for US communities of color. Through analysis of texts typically outside traditional Latinx or literary studies such as young adult literature, textbooks, television programming, comics, music, curriculum, and youth movements, Side by Side represents the only comprehensive study of the contributions of Puerto Ricans to American youth literature and culture, as well as the only comprehensive study into the role of youth literature and culture in Puerto Rican literature and thought.
Considering recent debates over diversity in children’s and young adult literature and media and the strained relationship between Puerto Rico and the US, Jiménez García's timely work encourages us to question who constitutes the expert and to resist the homogenization of Latinxs, as well as other marginalized communities, that has led to the erasure of writers, scholars, and artists.
"…there is no doubt that Jiménez García has made an important and necessary contribution that sits at the intersection of Youth Literature and Latinx Studies. Side by Side is a great source for scholars doing comparative work between the lands, waters, and peoples that make up the US settler-colony and empire, and for those studying power dynamics in multiple contexts."- Adriana De Persia Colón, International Journal of Young Adult Literature
"Side by Side: US Empire, Puerto Rico, and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture expertly crafts a comparative analysis of how children and childhood were invoked in literature and popular culture by white US authors, Puerto Ricans on the island, and Puerto Ricans in the diaspora. Marilisa Jiménez García provides a necessary critical analysis of texts often deemed politically neutral because they are for and/or are about children. In doing so, she demonstrates how Puerto Rican children are central to understanding historical and contemporary debates about Puerto Rican cultural politics."- Jillian M. Báez, author of In Search of Belonging: Latinas, Media, and Citizenship
"Side by Side builds on important scholarship by Vanessa Valdés, Lisa Sánchez González, and Sonia Nieto. Written in clear prose that offers rich historical detail, the book is highly adaptable to the classroom, both for its content and as an example of a compelling methodology at work."- William Orchard, Cento Journal
"Side by Side is a timely intervention into Latinx Studies and is sure to engage readers interested in a comprehensive, well-researched investigation of Puerto Rican literature and culture."- Trevor Bofone, Latino Studies
"The arguments laid bare in Side By Side are groundbreaking, and this text is the first of its kind; Jiménez García should be applauded for her complex, thoughtful, unapologetic addition to the academic discussion."- Hilary Brewster, Children's Literature