Alyssa Reynoso-Morris reads to kids at the Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library. Photo by Graham Hartmann.

Alyssa Reynoso-Morris is turning the Bronx into a magical realm for children.

More than a dozen kids gathered at the Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library on Oct. 25 for an in-person reading of Reynoso-Morris’ newest picture book, The Bronx Is My Home. 

The kids huddled around the Bronx-raised author, transfixed by the book’s brightly water-colored pages and its vibrant depictions of New York City’s northernmost borough. 

Throughout the book’s 40 pages, Reynoso-Morris led her young audience through places like Orchard Beach, Little Italy and Pelham Bay Park, and highlighted Bronx staples like its food trucks, world famous zoo and expansive railway system. 

With her energetic and interactive reading, the author revealed the magic of the kids’ everyday lives, while giving them characters they can identify with.

She also assured her doting crowd that “heroes are born and bred in the Bronx.” Turning to a page with drawings of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she told the story of their historic journeys from the Bronx to Washington D.C. 

“I was very strategic to choose strong, empowered women that are underrepresented in their own fields,” Reynoso-Morris explained. “We can normalize kids seeing themselves in those positions of power, so when they’re in those positions, they’re not questioning whether they deserve to be there or not.”

The Bronx Is My Home is the second book from Reynoso-Morris. She also read her first published work, Plátanos Are Love, which is inspired by the author’s own family and their Dominican cooking.

“Growing up in the Bronx, I feel like I took for granted how diverse my community was,” said Reynoso-Morris, who identifies as queer and Afro-Latinx. “All of my books are very focused on showing that representation without it necessarily being the focus of the book.”

Alyssa Reynoso-Morris holds her second book, ‘The Bronx Is My Home.’ Photo by Graham Hartmann.

Reynoso-Morris’ hour-long reading was a hit with her young audience.  One boy blurted out, “I love this story!” during Plátanos Are Love and asked, “How do they make the pictures so good?” in The Bronx Is My Home.

A young girl waited until the very end of The Bronx Is My Home to give her official rating: “100 thumbs up!”

“I love kids,” Reynoso-Morris said after the reading. “I think kids are better than adults.”

The reading was part of the New York Public Library’s Welcome Week, which held open houses and events in libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. 

To buy a copy of The Bronx Is My Home or Plátanos Are Love, visit Reynoso-Morris’ official website.

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By Graham Hartmann

Graham Hartmann is a CUNY graduate student and longtime music journalist.