Tomás loves stories. As the young son of migrant farm workers, he spends the summer with his family following the crops north from Texas to Iowa, passing long days in the fields listening to his grandfather tell stories and practicing English translations. Before long, Tomás knows all of Papa Grande’s tales by heart and a chance encounter brings him to the local Carnegie Library. Once there, he meets a “library lady” who recognizes his thirst for knowledge and encourages him to read. His delight in books is equaled by his pride in teaching the librarian Spanish, trading knowledge and respect between generations and cultures. Tomás develops great pride in becoming his family’s new storyteller.
When his family searches through the dump for things to sell, Tomás hunts for old books to add to his own library. By the end of the summer, Tomás has gained the respect of his family, the guidance of a colorful mentor, and a lifelong love of reading. Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who became the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what reading—and self-respect—can make possible.