Friday, December 03, 2021

The International Latino Book Awards Reflects

That 2021 Is A Major Turning Point for Books By & About Latinos

By Kirk Whisler

Nicolas-Kanellos. Lifetime Achievement Award for Arte Público Press

The International Latino Book Awards is a major reflection that the fastest growing group in the USA has truly arrived. The Awards are now by far the largest Latino cultural Awards in the USA and with the 276 winners this year in 105 categories, it has now honored the greatness of 3,470 authors and publishers over the past two decades. The size of the Awards is proof that books by and about Latinos are in high demand.

In 2020, Latinos purchased over $750 million in books in English and Spanish. The four ceremonies of the 23rd International Latino Book Awards Ceremony, held October 16th and 17th and everything you need to know about ELF’s author programs are at

The Awards are designed to cover all types of books: Childrens, NonFiction, Fiction, Poetry, Translation, and more. Presenters for the Awards included Legends who have helped the Latino community develop and whom we have awards named after: Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Allende, Charlie Eriksen, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dolores Huerta, Mimi Lozano, Ambassador Julian Nava, and Victor Villaseñor. Award Winning Authors: Isabel Campoy and Daisey Martinez. Educational leaders LACC’s Mary Gallagher and ELAC’s Felipe Agredano. Entertainment industry professionals Mike Gomez, Bel Hernandez, Josefina Lopez, Edward James Olmos, and Jerry Velasco.

Heads of national organizations included Independent Book Publisher’s Association’s Angela Bole; Las Comadres’ Nora de Hoyos Comstock; AltaMed’s Castulo de la Rocha; REFORMA’s Nicolas Díaz; La Plaza de Cultura y Artes’ CEO John Echeveste; the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities’ Dr Antonio Flores; National LULAC President Domingo Garcia; UnidosUS’ Janet Murguia; Publisher’s Weekly en Español’s Enrique Parrilla; CANIEM’s Alejandro Ramirez Flores; Latinxs in Kid Lit’s Cindy Rodriguez; and Libro Hispano’s Pilar Velez.

There were also LIFETIME Achievement Awards for Arte Público Press’ Nicolás Kanellos and Cinco Puntos Press’ Byrd Family, as well as entertainment by Andres 123, Gina Chavez, Echo Park Project, and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.

Nicolas-Kanellos. Lifetime Achievement Award for Arte Público Press

The 2021 Winners of the 23rd Annual International Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. About 42% of the winners were from major U.S. and Int’l publishers, up from 19% five years ago. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had 198 judges in 2021. The judges shared how hard it was because there are now so many great books being published. Judges included librarians, educators, media professionals, leaders of national organizations, Pulitzer Prize Winners, and even elected officials. The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Finalists are from across the USA, Puerto Rico, and 19 other countries.

The Awards are produced by Empowering Latino Futures, a nonprofit organization co-founded in 1997 by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler. Other ELF programs include the Latino Book & Family Festival, currently being held virtually at, our 69th Festival. The International Society of Latino Authors now has 213 members. Education Begins in the Home has supplied books to 155,000+ underserved readers. The Latino & American Indian Scholarship Directory has been used by 182,000 students. More than 40 episodes of the Latino Reads Podcast have now aired. ELF’s programs have now touched over a million people. 350 volunteers annually donate 14,000+ hours of service.

2021 ELF Partners include GrupoMex, Amazon Literacy Partnership, Los Angeles City College, Scholastic, Energy Upgrade California, AARP California, MAAC, Route 78 Rotary, Macmillan Publishers, Edward Becerra, Lantia Publishing, MiraCosta College, MyPoint Credit Union, and National LULAC.

ELF Media Partners include Independent Book Publishers Association, CSUSB LEAD, Diario las Americas, El Perico, Hoy en Delaware, KPFK Radio, La Noticia, La Oferta, La Prensa Houston, Las Comadres, Latin Heat, Latino 247 Media Group, Latino Lubbock Magazine, National Association of Hispanic Publications, Prensa Arizona, Quad Air Communications, and UnidosUS.