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Pat Mora (born in El Paso, Texas, on January 19, 1942)[2] is an American poet and author of books for adults, teens and children. Her grandparents came to El Paso from northern Mexico. A graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, she received Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, and is an Honorary Member of the American Library Association. A literacy advocate, in 1996, she founded Children's Day, Book Day, in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros now celebrated across the country on April 30th.

Pat Mora
Born (1942-01-19) January 19, 1942 (age 77)
Alma materUniversity of Texas at El Paso
GenrePoetry, Nonfiction, Children's literature



Pat Mora taught for the El Paso Public Schools, the El Paso Community College, and the University of Texas at El Paso where she then became Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and later Assistant to the President.


Mora began professionally writing in the early 1980s.[3] She has produced writing for all age groups, creating picture books, poetry and biographies.[4] Her choice of subject matter and theme is often shaped by life on the Mexico–United States border where she was born and spent much of her life. Of the border, she says: "The desert, mi madre, is my stern teacher...The Southwestern landscape has been my world, my point of reference."[5] Much of her writing highlights the human and cultural diversity of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.[4] She writes of the rich sense of "diversity within Mexican American experience."[6] Mora celebrates diversity and is opposed to the idea of an American monoculture; therefore, she is very concerned with preserving cultural heritage: "I write because I believe that Mexican Americans need to take their rightful place in U.S. literature. We need to be published and to be studied in schools and colleges so that the stories and ideas of our people won't quietly disappear."[3]

Mora is a strong advocate of bilingual literacy.[4] Early in her career, she coined a concept she named "bookjoy" which describes the pleasure of reading.[4]

Mora's style of writing often incorporates code switching between English and Spanish words.[4] As a writer, she allows a free-flow of ideas in her first draft: she doesn't question her motivation for writing and writes using "as little conscious analysis as possible."[2] She prefers to use her critical eye for editing her own work later.[2]

Mora has collaborated with her daughter, Libby Martinez, on two children's books: I Pledge Allegiance and Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo!, for which Martinez is the illustrator.[7]

Children's Day, Book DayEdit

In the mid-nineties, Mora founded the community-based, family literacy initiative, El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children's Day, Book Day (Día). In 1997, she received the official endorsement of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking for the project.[8] Mora based Dia on Mexican National Children's Day festivities held since 1925.[8] The two part celebration of Día includes a commitment to promote literacy and bookjoy, and culminates in book celebrations that unite communities. When choosing a date to kick off Día, she chose April 30 because it was the last day of National Poetry month.[8] The first Dia took place in 1996.[4]

Children's Day, Book Day, has grown in the U.S. to include all children, languages and cultures. Mora has expressed the desire to have books, celebrations and materials for Dia to include "all languages spoken in the United States."[8]

In 2004, the Association for Library Services to Children's (ALSC) division of the American Library Association became an active partner for Dia.[4] Mora says, "If we want our nation to be a country of readers...[we] need to work together to inspire communities in nurturing reading families."[4]


Mora has received Honorary Doctorates in Letters from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo and is an Honorary Member of the American Library Association. She was a recipient of a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship to write in Umbria, Italy. She was a Visiting Carruthers Chair at the University of New Mexico, a recipient and judge of the Poetry Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Fellowships.


  • Encantado: Desert Monologues. University of Arizona Press. 2018. ISBN 9780816538027.
  • Adobe Odes. University of Arizona Press. 8 November 2006. ISBN 9780816526109.
  • Agua Santa: Holy Water. Beacon Press. 20 July 1997. ISBN 9780807068298.
  • Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints. Beacon Press. 30 September 1997. ISBN 9780807072066.
  • Chants. Arte Publico Press. 1994. ISBN 9780934770248.
  • Communion. Arte Publico Press. May 1991. ISBN 9781558850354.
  • Borders. Arte Publico Press. 1986. ISBN 9780934770576.

Adult Books: Nonfiction

Young Adult Books: Poetry

Children's Books:


Pat Mora raised her 3 children and worked in El Paso until 1989, when she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.[3] She is married to Vern Scarborough, a professor of anthropology.[2] She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


  1. ^ Gilb, Dagoberto, ed. (2006). Hecho en Tejas: an Anthology of Texas-Mexican Literature. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. p. 329. ISBN 9780826341259.
  2. ^ a b c d Oliver-Rotger, Maria-Antónia (1999). "Pat Mora". Voices from the Gaps. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
      [1] "This page was researched and submitted by: Delia Abreu, Kristene Both, and Beth Woodruff on [May 16, 2000]." Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  3. ^ a b c Murphy, Patrick (1996). "Conserving Natural and Cultural Diversity: The Prose and Poetry of Pat Mora". MELUS. 21: 59–69. doi:10.2307/467806. ISSN 0163-755X. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  4. ^ Mora, Pat (1988). Farah, Cynthia (ed.). Literature and Landscape (1st ed.). El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 0874042062.
  5. ^ Kurzen, Crystal (2011). "Pat Mora's Literary Nepantia: Blueprints for a Word-House Refuge" (PDF). a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. The Autobiography Society. 26 (2): 342–363. doi:10.1353/abs.2011.0013. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. ^ Mora, Pat. "Bookjoy". Pat Mora's Homepage. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Roy, Lorience (March 2007). "Let Book Joy Begin @ Your Library!: Ten Years of El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros". Library Media Connection. ABC-Clio - Library Media Connection. 25 (6): 14–16. ISSN 1542-4715. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Mora, Pat. "Pat's Awards". Bookjoy. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  9. ^ "The Pura Belpre Award winners, 1996-present". Association for Library Service to Children. American Library Association. 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  10. ^ "The Amelia Bloomer Book List". American Library Association: Awards and Grants. American Library Association. 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Farah, Cynthia (1988). Literature and Landscape: Writers of the Southwest (1st ed.). El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press. p. 123. ISBN 0874042062.

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