Author and educator, Francisco Jiménez emigrated with his family from Tlaquepaque, Mexico to California and as a child worked alongside his parents in the fields of California. He received his BA from Santa Clara University and an MA and Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Columbia University under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. He has served on various professional boards and commissions, including the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (10 years, two as chair), California Council for the Humanities, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC), Santa Clara University Board of Trustees and the Far West Lab for Educational Research and Development.
Dr. Jiménez’s autobiographical books The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (Cajas de cartón, Spanish edition), Breaking Through (Senderos fronterizos, Spanish edition), Reaching Out (Más allá de mí, Spanish edition), La Mariposa, and The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad have won several national literary awards, including The California Library Association’s 10th Annual John and Patricia Beatty Award, the Américas Book Award, the Pura Belpré Honor Book Award, the Tomás Rivera Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Reading the World Award, and the Carter C. Woodson National Book Award. His books have been published in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Persian and Spanish. In addition, he has published and edited several books on Mexican and Mexican American literature, and his stories have been reprinted in over 100 textbooks and anthologies of literature. His latest work is Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
His four-book series—The Circuit, Breaking Through, Reaching Out, Taking Hold–has been included in the American Library Association Booklist’s 50 Best Young Adult Books of All Time.
He was selected U.S. Professor of the Year by CASE and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2002, and is the recipient of UCSB’s Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature and the *John Steinbeck Award. He holds honorary degrees from De Anza College and the University of San Francisco. In 2015 a new school in Santa Maria, California was named in honor of his late brother and him: The Roberto and Dr. Francisco Jiménez Elementary School. He has been featured in Univision’s “Aquí y Ahora” and Telemundo, and has received commendations for his work from the U.S. Congress, the California State Senate, and the governor of the State of Jalisco, Mexico. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University.
*“The John Steinbeck Award is given to writers, artists, thinkers, and activists whose work captures Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of people who by circumstance are pushed to the fringes.” (Past recipients include musician Bruce Springsteen, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, filmmaker Ken Burns, playwright Arthur Miller, and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.)
“‘La frontera’…I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, cross la frontera, enter California, and leave our poverty behind.” So begins this honest and powerful account of a family’s journey to the fields of California — to a life of constant moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. Seen through the eyes of a boy who longs for an education and the right to call one place home, this is a story of survival, faith, and hope. It is a journey that will open readers’ hearts and minds.