Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Long Beach Leaders are Readers: Cathy De Leon, City of Long Beach Director of Library Services

Top leaders of the world have the exceptional simple habit of reading. Whether for enjoyment or enrichment, reading stimulates the mind and fuels creativity. Long Beach Leaders are Readers features leaders in our community as they share their recommended reads.

In honor of National Library Month, we are featuring the City of Long Beach Director of Library Services, Cathy De Leon!

Continue reading to learn more about Ms. De Leon’s book recommendation and the leader behind it.

Hello, Universe


Erin Entrada Kelly

What made you choose Hello, Universe as your recommendation?

Erin Entrada Kelly is the first author of Filipino descent to be awarded the most prestigious award in children’s literature, the Newbery Medal, and she won it for this book. Hello, Universe tells the story of a shy Filipino boy named Virgil Salinas and three fellow middle schoolers whose worlds collide in unexpected ways. Published in 2017, this book resonated with me because it was one of the first times I ever saw myself–my culture, my family–in a book, as the stories and experiences of Filipino Americans are not often reflected in American literature. As a longtime children’s librarian, this book made me cry because of its candid and heartwarming depictions of Filipino American intergenerational family life. To me, this book embodies the power of telling diverse stories and how affirming and inclusive literature can and should be.

Where there any stand-out scenes?

There’s a scene where Virgil observes his grandmother, or lola, slicing mangos. The way that Entrada Kelly described this simple act really hit me because it’s something my lola did for me when I was a child and brought up a lot of powerful personal memories.

What do you hope other readers get from reading your book recommendation?

I never realized until I read Hello, Universe how starved I was to see these cultural aspects of my own experience on a page. Representation matters and I hope readers someday get to see themselves reflected in literature if they haven’t already.

Do you prefer paperbacks or e-books?


What was the last book you read?

Crying in H Mart. Find it at your local library branch here.