It's Fall, Ya'll! This October we're introducing you to Barbara Cerda, or as you might know her, Barby the Book Fairy! Barbara is Founder at not only Barby The Book Fairy, but Co-Founder at La Revo Books as well. Learn all about this amazing, local mom of three in our interview!
Please tell us a little bit about your family, including your kids and ages.
Xitlali, 17 years old, Nathalie, 13 years old, Arely, 6 years old.
I am a first generation immigrant with roots in Jalisco, Mexico. I was born and raised in Milwaukee and the oldest of three in my family. I became a mother when I was a teenager in high school and have been rocking it since then. I received my bachelor’s degree from Alverno College in 2017. My major was Community Leadership and Development - very fitting to what I am doing now.
How did you come up with the idea to start Barby the Book Fairy?
Our idea started during the pandemic when my daughters and I took it upon ourselves to refill the free little libraries during our afternoon walks. We began with donating some of our books and then asking our friends and community members to donate their gently used books. When we had the opportunity to apply for a grant to buy brand new books written by black and brown authors, we named our project and have been working tirelessly to provide quality and accessible literature.
What inspires you and why?
This project grew from a family past time to a whole movement in a short amount of time. It is inspirational to see other families taking part in giving back by becoming “book fairies” in their own neighborhoods. I enjoy seeing children and adults donating their own books, and also picking out titles that call out to them.
What's the best part of your career and/or community involvement?
The best part is knowing that I am making an impact. Our community deserves nice things and I feel like through the work I am doing, I am doing my part to ensure that our people feel appreciated and loved.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
My daughters make me proud every single day and love how they are growing up into their authentic selves. They are everything I have ever wanted to be! Xitlali is mastering the art of staying organized as a Senior at Tenor High School. Nathalie is killing it in her middle school science class and Arely is learning how to read in first grade!
What has been the most challenging part of this past year for you (and/or your family)?
Earlier this year, both of my grandmothers passed away from COVID-19. This was extremely hard for our family and while we are still grieving their loss - we are celebrating the new things that have come our way. My sister, Valeria and I opened a bookstore called La Revo Books, in honor of our grandmothers who were storytellers. This has given our family a new beginning and we are able to fill a gap that we saw in the community by providing Latinx literature and libros en español.
Do you have a favorite place to go in Milwaukee? If so, where and why? (Restaurant, park, bar, etc.)
I do love to be in community and visit local restaurants and bars as often as possible. Tres Hermanos Restaurant in Lincoln Village has been my favorite for years. It is in my neighborhood, run by a local family and has awesome food and drinks. One of my favorite bars is Camacho’s Bar in Walker’s Point. They just put up a beautiful mural of Mr. Daniel Camacho, the longtime Milwaukee resident who founded the bar in 1983. It is a GEM of a place.
Do you have any words of advice for other moms, especially new moms?
Oh my, YES. One of the things I have learned after being a mom for 17 years- is that we don’t have to compartmentalize the multiple roles we play. We can be a working mom and still be a good mom. And we can be a stay at home mom and have a thriving and fun personal life. It is okay to be our authentic selves in all of our capacities as mothers. Take some time to think about how all of these things can exist at one time and believe in yourself!
Will you be doing anything to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
I celebrate Hispanic/Latinx heritage every month! I try to use my platform as much as I can to support local, Latinx businesses and talent on a daily basis. It’s as easy as following and sharing their content on social media or buying an item. Little things go a long way...