Lamberto Roque Hernandez will be here tomorrow Sunday November first @ 3.p.m to discuss his first book in English Here I am. This is the link for more information on the program…
Following is the comment on his book by Linda Sandsmark published in San Leandro Times on October 14.
Author Follows His Dreams
As a boy, Lamberto Roque Hernandez lived in a village so small there were no books except those in the elementary school.
Now Hernandez is a Sheffi eld Village resident, college graduate, teacher, parent, bilingual author, and founder of a library in his hometown.
His new book, “Here I Am,” is a close-up look at why people from around the world still seek the American dream.
“I challenged myself to write this new book in English because I wanted this voice to be heard by others, not only the Spanish- speaking community. I also use my books as an inspiration, especially to immigrants. I want them to see that it is possible to write books and make money from your words. It’s a tangible tool,” Hernandez says.
Growing up in tiny San Martin Tilcajete in Oaxaca, Mexico, young Lamberto was not always in a position to inspire others. His parents had not attended school. When he was fi ve, an aunt taught him the basics of reading from an old fi rst-grade textbook.
After that, he salvaged the newsprint used to wrap items sold in local stores. Reading those newspapers showed him that there was a world beyond his village. Hernandez became determined to pursue higher education in America.
As a young adult he paid thousands of dollars to come here illegally, but was caught and deported. He returned again, at one point looking for work alongside day laborers on International Boulevard in Oakland. Those lonely experiences are reflected throughout his books.
Hernandez says that each worker has a life, a history, and hopes for the future, all of which are largely invisible to passersby.
“I try to bring their stories to life,” says Hernandez.
While working at a car wash in Santa Cruz, Hernandez met his wife-to-be Alice Wagner. He was diligently taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and he was studying to be a teacher.
After they married in 1994, Hernandez became a legal immigrant and college student. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cal State East Bay and a teaching credential from Mills College.
The couple traveled back to Oaxaca to start the first library in San Martin Tilcajete. Their story was remarkable enough to be featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s popular “On the Couch” column two years ago. “There were no books for kids to read where I grew up.
I didn’t want that to happen to the children still living there. I wanted them to be exposed to books, because I have this obsession with reading. My philosophy is that the more you read, the more you are capable of seeing the world in the widest possible perspective,” he says.
Hernandez taught at both Edendale and Washington Manor Middle Schools, but was laid off during last year’s budget cuts. This year he has a long-term substitute job in Hayward.
Still, he, his wife and their two young children make an annual trip back to his hometown with more books for the library. “It’s easier just to stay where you are,” he says, “but I want to provide others with knowledge.”
Anyone interested in his books may contact Lamberto Roque Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 632-9039.