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Mother Essentials: NoNieqa Ramos

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

For NoNieqa Ramos, good things often come in pairs. The proud Puerto Rican educator, literary activist, and mother of two (Jandi, 12, and Langston, 7) is already known for her critically acclaimed YA books The Truth Is and The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary (which both came out in 2019). And now she’s following up her pre-COVID success with two debut picture books in 2021—Your Mama (out April 6th, a playful take on the classic “yo mama” joke) and Hair Story (a celebration of hair by two friends, one Black and one Puerto Rican, out this September). And she doesn’t plan on stopping there. In 2022, her picture book Beauty Woke, illustrated by beloved artist Paola Escobar, will no doubt catch the attention of many for its take on a “next-generation Sleeping Beauty” plot line that praises the beauty of diversity and honoring one’s ancestry. Both are topics NoNieqa herself holds dear, which is made clear in her vibrant Mother Essentials list below!

Good Wine & A Good Book. “I love grabbing a glass of Pinot Noir from my La Familia Vino Club subscription at the Latinx-owned Alumbra Cellars, escaping to the silence, and taking a read of the powerful anthology (Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Coronavirus Pandemic, which draws together the stories of fifty-two women across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 2018 Pinot Noir, $30, Alumbra Celllars; (Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Coronavirus Pandemic, $9.99, Regal House Publishing.

Thoughtful Baby Gifts. “This mama recently became a titi to the beautiful Serafina, who lives between the Bronx and Australia! Among my gifts will be the Taina Sisters’ digital Taíno ABC’s e-book and a Diosa Luna onesie from Ojala Threads.” Taino ABC’s Digital Download E-Book, $10, EtsyDiosa Luna Body Suit, $28, Ojala Threads.

Boogie Down Books. “Our lives are built upon the solid foundation of #ownvoicesbooks. My favorite Jazy Flow BX does virtual yoga-inspired storytimes that center diverse books on Saturdays at one our favorite bookstores without walls, Boogie Down Books.” Boogiedownbooks.com.

Sustainable Snacks. “Through our connection with Jazy Flow Yoga, we learned about her community partnership with Sustainable Snacks. The delicious snacks are vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, and Bronx-made! If you use the code Jazy10, you can get a discount. As my father is a lab technologist at several New York hospitals, we love that you can order a case for NYC public hospitals’ frontline workers!” Spicy Cherry + Almond Snacks, $6.99, Sustainable Snacks.

Jazy Flow Yoga. “During the pandemic, my tweenager and I have decompressed and reconnected with the earth and each other through a virtual yoga session from Nuyorican Bronx yoga instructor Jazy Cintron.” Jazyflowyoga.squarespace.com.

Chess On-The-Go. “My child and his daddy have been bonding over the pandemic by playing chess. I bought them this cute fair trade foldable mini set to carry to our favorite restaurants after we get vaccinated.” Shesham Travel Chess Set, $34.99, Ten Thousand Villages.

Your Mama. “Looking for an ode to powerful mamas and their beautiful children? You can pick up a copy of Your Mama at Boogie Down or Las Musas bookshops! In it you will find a variety of award-winning Latinx picture books, middle grade, and young adult literature!” Your Mama, written by Nonieqa Ramos and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, $17.99 Boogie Down Books and Las Musas Books.

Brands of Puerto Rico. “We are a recovering Goya users. Like many Boricuas, I was raised on Goya products, but have opted for healthier options. We are huge fans of Brands of Puerto Rico, which sells ‘Adobos That Won’t Let You Down.’ Their shipping was expedient and well-packaged. While you’re at it, check out the beautiful jewelry the site features from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña—and the yummy tembleque mix, referenced in my picture book Your Mama.” Adobo Spices, $6 and up, Brands of Puerto Rico; Tembleque Mix, $18.99, Brands of Puerto Rico; Hanging Balls Earrings by Virginia Nin, $30, Brands of Puerto Rico.

Kiire Wellness. “My child and I explored his roots through Kiire Wellness, a school of Afroholistic mind body arts that centers Afro ancestral breathing meditation. The instructor, Oludaré is an Aponni (music healing ceremonial leader) who offers private and group classes and free family-celebratory Facebook meditations and dancing events. My son and I took drumming lessons using a giant cooking pot.” @Kiirewellness

Outschool. “I wish there was an outschool.com for adults! The site offers interactive, affordable classes in everything from coding and tech to world languages, escape rooms, and cooking classes. My tweenager learned to make scrumptious Hawaiian fried rice from instructor Sandra Oda, who was born, raised, and still resides in Oahu.” Outschool.com.

Digital Dance Parties. “Mamas, what happened to our dancing? Is the only time you get to shake it out when you are scrubbing the oven or chopping onions? Why not check out the virtual dance parties led by Colectiva Wellbeing. After a grounding practice, the Izizwe Dance team leads dance instruction, along with free flow movement and African drums!” @Colectiva_Wellbeing.

Rrradio Musas. “Author Mia Garcia (Even if the Sky Falls) and I will be debuting RRRADIO MUSAS, a free family-friendly series housed within the larger Las Musas craft and publishing podcast. The series features Latinx picture book, middle grade, and young adult reading from their works! Our inaugural podcast in April features a reading from Loriel Ryon’s debut middle grade book, Into The Tall Tall Grass.” LasMusasBooks.com/Podcast.

For more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with best-selling author Joanna Ho, Brave + Kind Bookshop owner Bunnie Hilliard, TV personality Leslie Antonoff, author Rio Cortez, Kido Chicago owner Keewa Nurullah, small-space mama Laura Fenton, Curasalve founder Kelley Williams, Trade Street Jam Co. founder Ashley Rouse, Weelicious and One Potato founder Catherine McCord, interior designer Susan Work, author Tiffany Dufu, Les Gamins founder Veronique Nguyen, Lonny editor Angela Tafoya, Wiley Body founder Vanessa Wade, designers Anna WallackCynthia RowleyRebecca Atwood, and Dana HaimOlympian Alysia Montano, cookbook author Hetal Vasavada, model and muse Slick Woods, wellness influencer Joanne Encarnacion, author LaTonya Yvetteand many, many more!

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