Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Pam Muñoz Ryan (born December 25, 1951) is a Mexican American writer.

Muñoz Ryan was born in Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley of California on December 25, 1951. She began writing when she was encouraged by a professor during graduate school. "It took me a number of years to make that leap of faith," she states when commenting on becoming a full-time writer. That "came" in 1994 after she published her first picture book.[1]

She is the author of the bestselling books Esperanza Rising and Becoming Naomi León. Her other novels include Riding Freedom about Charley Parkhurst, which has won numerous awards, and Paint the Wind. Muñoz Ryan has also written several children's books.

The inspiration for Esperanza Rising came from her grandmother. As an immigrant from Mexico, she faced family complications, the death of her father, and racism due to her Hispanic heritage. She also won many awards including the National Education Associations Author recipient of the civil and human rights award. Also a twice recipient of the Willa Cather literacy award for writing. Becoming Naomi León came from a 1997 visit to the Mexican city of Oaxaca to an annual Christmastime event called the "Night of the Radishes".

Some of her work for children has been translated for the Spanish-language market. The Flag We Love (La bandera que amamos), Our California (Nuestra California) and Nacho and Lolita illustrated by Claudia Rueda, along with the bilingual edition Hello Ocean / Hola mar were translated by the Cuban children's author Yanitzia Canetti and published by Charlesbridge in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Muñoz Ryan enjoys little-known facts about celebrities. She believes that her strong female protagonists have stories that deserve to be told. Two of her muses are Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. In Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, illustrated by Brian Selznick, she tells one such story, based on a true event.[2]


When Marian Sang, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Riding Freedom, illustrated by Brian Selznick

  • 1999 National Willa Cather Award for Best Young Adult Novel
  • Southern California Center of Literature for Young People, Award of Merit
  • 1999–2000 Arizona Young Reader's Award


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