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Tomás Rivera Award: Celebrating 10 Years

The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award

Award Ceremony: October 28, 11:00 am at the Southwestern Writers Collection. This year’s winner is Pam Muñoz Ryan for Becoming Naomi León. Artwork on this page comes from the cover of Muñoz Ryan’s book.

The year 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, established by Texas State’s College of Education to encourage more children's books that authentically depict the lives of Mexican Americans. Within ten years, the Tomás Rivera Award has become one of the most sought-after in the industry, and the list of winners includes some of the most notable names in Chicano literature, among them Rudolfo Anaya, Gary Soto, and Pat Mora.

The Southwestern Writers Collection formed an early partnership with the Tomás Rivera Award and has served as the host site of the award presentation from the beginning. The SWWC has created special exhibits in conjunction with the award and Assistant Curator Steve Davis has served on the Tomás Rivera Award Regional Committee since 1997.

In 2005, the Tomás Rivera Award committee agreed to place its archives at the Southwestern Writers Collection. The materials include correspondence, memorandums, publicity, photographs, posters, programs, author information, and other items. The materials provide a clear record of the development of a major national literary award created from the American Southwest.

The tenth anniversary celebration features exhibits and events across the Texas State campus and the city of San Marcos. The Southwestern Writers Collection is mounting a special ten-year retrospective exhibit that highlights the award-winning works, artifacts from the archives, and a display on the life and times of Tomás Rivera.

Tomás Rivera, a native of Crystal City, Texas, began life as the child of a migrant farm worker family. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas State and went on to become a pre-eminent Chicano writer and educator. He was Chancellor at the University of California-Riverside when he died from a heart attack in 1984. Today, numerous libraries, buildings, and institutes are named in his honor throughout the Southwest. Rivera is a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas State University-San Marcos.

Tomás Rivera is best known for his landmark 1971 novel ...y no se lo tragó la tierra (...and the Earth Did Not Part), which is based on his childhood experiences as a migrant laborer. The book received the Premio Quinto Sol Award and has remained in print ever since, becoming a standard text in many college literature classes. Rivera’s writing has inspired generations of migrants, cataloging their struggles while providing hope for a better future. His enduring presence will long stand as an example of the resiliency and strength of the Mexican American community.