PHARR — Author, poet and literacy advocate Pat Mora visited PSJA ISD last week to speak with hundreds of students about her work promoting literacy.

Mora has written dozens of books, including “Book Fiesta!”, “Tomas and the Library Lady”, “My Own True Name” and “Listen to the Desert/Oye al desierto.”

During her visit to PSJA North Early College High School, Mora shared insight into her books, where she got the inspiration for each one and why she advocates for reading with more than 200 elementary and middle school students, according to a statement released by the district.

“I want students to realize that whatever they want to do, they need to be readers. I know that sounds very basic, but it’s true,” she wrote in the release. “We’re a very technological country today, so to really participate in that, they need to go to college. And to go to college they need to be readers and writers.”

In 1996, Mora founded the national initiative El día de los niños, el día de los libros as a way to encourage a love of books and reading among children of all cultures— something PSJA ISD Director of Library Services Nora Galvan says resonates within our community, the statement says.

“We want to get quality authors to the Valley, especially Hispanic ones,” Galvan wrote. “So students can say ‘hey someone from my own race is an author, why can’t I be an author?’ We have a lot of good writers, and a big imagination and very specific cultural background stories, so I think if we put all these things in writing — that’s just great.”

Mora’s message was particularly inspiring to some readers in the audience who have read her books, the statement said, including 4th grader Rylee Leal.

“I’m very grateful for the visit. This is once in a lifetime,” Leal wrote. “Some people don’t know what to write, and they’re going to have trouble, so I think she’s helping us out. Like everything that’s around you, you can use it to learn how to write.”

PSJA ISD Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo is also a fan of Mora’s work: he had a signed copy of one of her books nearly 15 years ago that he read to his son frequently, the release said.

“This was just an awesome experience for us as a district as we continue to promote literacy. Reading and writing are just so important,” he wrote in the statement. “It’s going to continue to open many doors and avenues for our students, so it’s just an honor and privilege for our students to be able to have this experience.”

PSJA’s Dual Language Department provided books from the author for each student, and she personally signed their book during the event, according to the release.