Picture book series represents and educates Monterey County Latino, Indigenous kids – The Californian

It was story time after school for a group of young girls at the Vineyard Green Townhomes in Greenfield.
They cheered as they sat and gathered around Dr. Joshua Deutsch, a local family physician from Mee Memorial Hospital who came down to read his books to the children for the very first time. 
These are not the typical children’s health books.
In fact, the images and characters in the books show brown-skinned families, immigrants and farmworkers cultivating in the fields. The characters look and live just like the Monterey County girls and their families.
One father smiled as he watched his daughter flip through the pages of the books scattered around. 
“My daughter is so curious and impatient to do activities,” Rosendo Saldana said. “When her mom is reading to her at night, she just asks question after question and having someone here explain the answers to her questions is so effective and she’s happy.”
The book series were made specifically to represent local life and culture in Monterey County. Topics include understanding the body, healthy diets and exercise that apply to children and adults.
Bearing in mind the diversity of Latino groups throughout the Central Coast, Deutsch decided to go one step further by creating a pictures-only book covering the same topics in a way he felt would be more helpful to indigenous kids and families who don’t speak more common languages like English or Spanish.
“In Greenfield, Salinas, we have a large Oaxacan population, the largest immigrant group in the county from Mexico,” Deutsch said. “The two most commonly spoken indigenous languages in Oaxaca that we see around here are Triqui and Mixteco, and those do not have a written language, so parents that speak those languages do not have any books that they can read.”
Deutsch had been planning to write these books as part of his Justice With Health reading program for quite some time. The nonprofit creates “innovative community health and social justice projects designed for healthcare settings in farmworker communities,” according to the organization’s website. 
Deutsch says it was a positive response he got from reading picture books to his own children that made him realize this was the key to communicate the themes and messages universally, without words.
With the help of a local artist, he made his vision and the illustrations happen.
Book titles include:
Rosendo Saldana said the books couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s such a big help because that’s how our kids can learn the message effectively,” he said. “We have so much obesity and health scares during these times and this shows them how to eat healthy and take care of themselves.”
There are currently 20,000 books in circulation at Monterey County hospitals and clinics including Alisal Clinic, Laurel Family Practice Clinic, Mee Memorial and Natividad Hospitals. Deutsch and other healthcare staff often spend their time reading the books to young patients at their bedside.
Deutsch says the funding to create the books has mostly come out of his own pocket. The books are sold to local healthcare organizations for $1 a piece so that patients can get them for free. They are also sold online or at the Downtown Book & Sound bookstore in Salinas for between $2 and $3 dollars.
Deutsch says all proceeds from sales are being reinvested to create more books. His goal is to get more grants and donations to make more of the books available throughout the county and even at local schools.
“We also want to spread this all over California, to Modesto to Merced,” Deutsch said. “I want farm working families and their children to grow up with the same reading and educational opportunities as children who come from any other background.”
A GoFundMe has also been set up for anyone who wishes to make donations to the program.
For more information or to download a free digital copy of the books, visit www.justicewithhealth.com

source