Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult Literature–CIDCLI

By Andrea García, Ph.D. Literacy Consultant, Pädi, Queretaro, Mexico.

This April, WOW Currents features publishing houses in Mexico whose work is actively transforming the landscape of children’s and young adult literature in Spanish. WOW Director Dr. Kathy Short, University of Arizona professor Dr. Carol Brochin, and I visited these publishing houses when we attended the 37 Feria Internacional del Libro Infantil y Juvenil (FILIJ) in Mexico City, Mexico, in November 2017. The FILIJ, the International Book Fair for Children and Young Adults, is the largest annual gathering of publishers specifically focused on children’s and young adult literature in Spanish. This 10-day cultural celebration surrounding books and literature hosted more than 442,000 people.


My first invitation for this month, is to familiarize you with the work of CIDCLI, a pioneer in the publishing of high quality literature in Spanish in Mexico specifically for children and young adults. CIDCLI stands for Centro de Información y Desarrollo de la Comunicación y de la Literatura Infantil (Center for Information and Development of Communication and Children’s Literature) and it was founded in 1980 by Patricia van Rijhn. At the time, van Rijhn realized that there was a void in the market for quality children’s literature written in Spanish by Mexican authors, which was dominated by translated texts or commercial books for children.

Armo Con Letras van Rijhn invited well-known Mexican authors to write stories for publication. Her previous experiences working for the Mexican government in the Secretaría de Educación Pública and helping to launch the first FILIJ, positioned her in the perfect place to start CIDCLI. Thirty years later, CIDCLI has a catalogue with over 200 books and is one of the most renowned publishing houses in Latin America, winning important national and international awards for their books. Among these recognitions, van Rijhn was honored in 2011 with the National Juan Pablos Award for Editorial Merit, granted by CANIEM, the organizing body for the world of publishing in Mexico. In 2010, their book Armo con letras las palabras, written and illustrated by Alejandro Magallanes, received an honorable mention in the New Horizon category for the prestigious BolognaRagazzi Award in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Their authors and illustrators represent the best of contemporary children’s and young adult literature in Spanish from around the world.

CIDCLI also ventured into the exiting world of digital books and book apps with an innovative digital concept that brings to life stories that coexist in both the printed and digital domains. You can check out their collection Pininos and explore their vision for what high-quality digital publications can look like.

Quetzalcoatlvan Rijhn advocates for placing unique books that have meaningful stories, attractive designs and beautifully-crafted illustrations in the hands of children and adolescents. CIDCLI’s different collections, which feature fiction, non-fiction and poetry appropriate for early readers to young adults, are rich with Mexican tradition like their award-winning Mito, leyenda e historia de Quetzalcóatl: La misteriosa Serpiente Emplumada written by Luis Barbeytia and illustrated by Luis Garay. But they transcend traditional stories to present contemporary perspectives on historical characters, like their book Alexander von Humboldt, un explorador científico en América written by Tom Janota and illustrated by Marion Janin. Both of these stories are published in print and digital formats.Humboldt

van Rijhn belives that “…a los niños hay que darles la alternativa de una literatura de calidad, para que sientan que los cuentos, nóvelas o poesía son un arte por el que pueden navegar el resto de sus vidas,” [“…children need to have the alternative of high quality literature, so that they feel that books, stories, or poetry are an art form they can navigate for the rest of their lives,”] Patricia van Rijhn (2005). That belief made CIDCLI an influential force in the world of publishing Spanish children’s and young adult literature in Mexico and around the world.


Please, let me know which books you have read from this publisher or which authors who have published with CIDCLI you are familiar with. It is my hope that their catalogue will inspire you to extend the presence of Spanish books in your own collections.

[Admin Note: Books from CIDCLI are available for browsing in the Worlds of Words collection. The books are shelved in the Mary J. Wong collection, so patrons will need to request access.]

Journey through Worlds of Words during our open reading hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

One thought on “Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult Literature–CIDCLI

  1. T. Corbin says:

    I think that this is a wonderful move in the world of education and literacy! I wish that more countries or states had the opportunity and access to good and appropriate literacy for their students and children. A lot of times the main issue in schools is the lack of books even presented for children to read. Commonly in libraries, the librarian will have to supply the books, as there is not enough funding for schools to provide books for their students.
    The fact that these children have access to these beautifully handcrafted books is a wonderful tool. These books are a key to these students’ literacy and their want/ability to read. Giving students books that are visually and mentally pleasing makes them want to read more and become engulfed in the story.
    I am unfamiliar with these artists, but I would love to get my hands on these books. Aside from students having access to interesting books, I also think it is beneficial for them to have access to culturally diverse books. To allow children to explore worlds outside of their own builds understanding and the ability to love others more freely. They do not grow up more close-minded, and they can understand diversity. We need to raise curious children. Ones that we can use literacy to expand not only their literary skills but their want to learn about different cultures.

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