Leticia Ordaz is familiar to many as a television news reporter and anchor. Add accomplished children’s book author to her list of credits. In September, Ordaz was honored in four categories for her first bilingual children’s book released in March, “The Adventures of Mr. Macaw,” at the 22nd International Latino Book Awards. On Nov. 17, Ordaz’s second bilingual children’s picture book will be released, an autobiography titled “That Girl on TV Could Be Me: The Journey of a Latino News Anchor.”
“I’m excited about the launch of the second book as well because that’s a children’s autobiography based on my story,” Ordaz said.
Ordaz’s second book tells her story: the first in her family to go to college, who didn’t see anyone on TV who looked like her on the news. She was determined to break barriers and one day be on the news.
“It kind of walks you through my journey in small markets to make it to my dream job where I used to intern on the station I grew up watching as a kid,” Ordaz said. “I hope to inspire little kids everywhere, especially from challenged backgrounds, low incomes, children of color to pursue their dreams.”
Ordaz wrote the books and has founded a publishing house to close the glaring disparity between the growing demographics of the Latino population in the United States and the scarcity of books reflecting Latino characters and culture. Only 5% of books published in the country feature a Latinx main character, yet Latinos make up 18% of the nation’s population, and in San Joaquin County, Hispanics comprise 41% of the population.
Ordaz has two young boys that she and her husband wanted to raise in a bilingual household that celebrates their Latino heritage. When she couldn’t find bilingual books to read to them that had positive Latinx characters, she took matters into her own hands.
Big publishers balked at the idea of a fully bilingual children’s book, so she self-published “The Adventures of Mr. Macaw,” which was released in March. The story was inspired by real events stemming from a family vacation in Mexico, where their beloved kite cut loose one day in an approaching hurricane and was found in a palm tree and freed by villagers who banded together to help.
“It gave me an opportunity to show the spirit of villagers and how it takes a village to solve problems and for the community to come together,” Ordaz said. “We’re all the same and we all have big hearts and we all want to help each other.”
The Ordaz’s kept the tattered kite in storage in Mexico until they returned. They repaired the kite with glue and duct tape hoping against hope that it would actually fly. To their surprise, the kite flew higher than ever before on a still day, and the tail formed a complete heart that Ordaz photographed. The kite, which they still have, certainly is magical.
“My kids said, ‘It is magical! Mr. Macaw is real! He’s alive!’” Ordaz said. “It was really cool.”
Ordaz shares her personal tale in “That Girl on TV Could Be Me: The Journey of a Latino News Anchor.” The story is topical as immigrants and women continue to struggle to claim their rightful place in America. Juan Calle’s dynamic illustrations go behind the scenes to show how breaking news is covered in a way no other storybook has done before.
The daughter of hard-working farm laborers, Maria and Primo Ordaz, Leticia is the first in her family to graduate from college. “I was determined to be the first in my family so my cousins and other people could follow as well,” Leticia said.
Ordaz grew up in the tiny agricultural town of Galt in Sacramento County and graduated from Galt High School and California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in communications and a minor in government. Ordaz interned at KCRA 3 in Sacramento while studying at Sacramento State. She joined the station as a general assignments reporter in 2003 and anchors weekend mornings on KCRA 3 and reports weekday mornings on KCRA 3 and KQCA My58.
Ordaz started her career as an anchor and reporter at KENV-TV in Elko, Nevada, and previously was a general assignments reporter at KGET-TV in Bakersfield and KMPH-TV in Fresno.
Kids will be inspired by Leticia’s educational, funny, and poignant experiences. Parents will appreciate the perspective of a working woman and Latinx role model. Teachers and librarians will value the bilingual translation in Spanish and glossary of TV terms.
Ordaz bases some of her characters on her family. In “Mr. Macaw,” her mother is the captain of a ship because Ordaz wanted a strong character like her, and her father is a paletero because he loves popsicles. Both are characters in her second book as well.
Ordaz said she has been thrilled by the positive response her books have received, especially when she reads them to hospitalized children around the world during her virtual visits.
“My books have actually brought tears to kids during my readings and saying, ‘Those kids look like me,’” Ordaz said. “It’s been a pretty phenomenal experience to open kids’ eyes that, yes, they can be authors and their stories matter and they can have a fun story about them in a book.”
Leticia and her husband have two boys: Maxton, 9, and Bronx, 6. Her hobbies include yoga, going to musicals, traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and trying new food. Leticia is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and California Chicano News Media Association. She is fluent in Spanish.
Ordaz has her own publishing company, Cielito Lindo Books and hopes to add titles from other authors. Her books can be purchased at cieltolindobooks.com, as well as through major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. “The Adventures of Mr. Macaw” can also be found at libraries, such as the Sacramento Public Library.