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Local man promotes International Latino Awards Ceremony


Last updated 10/8/2021 at 2:22pm

Best selling author Victor Villasen speaks to the crowd at the Latino Book & Family Festival at Oceanside's MiraCosta College. Village News/Courtesy photo

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Kirk Whisler is a doer. A Fallbrook resident the past two years, he's spent most of his life promoting Hispanic causes.

One of his projects is the International Latino Book Awards Ceremony, which will be held virtually on Oct. 15-16. Whisler is not Hispanic, but his wife Magdalena was born in Mexico City.

Whisler explained that the idea to promote something positive came in the mid-1990s when "my compadre actor Edward James Olmos" was disheartened from hearing about a Latino event that erupted in violence.

Their idea, which turned into a mission, was to promote literacy in the Latino/Hispanic community in various forms, including educational, financial, health and community awareness. The goal, he said, was to encourage family and youth involvement in positive activities.

Whisler worked in the publishing business most of his adult life and with help from Olmos and others, went to work.

The International Latino Book Awards is one of his current projects. Others are the Latino Books Into Movies Awards, the Latino Book & Family Festivals, and Latino Reads, a weekly podcast series.

He said the International Latino Book Awards – now in its 23rd year – is a major reflection that the fastest growing group in the USA has truly arrived.

"The awards are now by far the largest Latino cultural awards in the USA and with the 276 finalists this year in 105 categories, it has now honored the greatness of authors and 3,470 authors and publishers over the past two decades. The size of the awards is proof that books by and about Latinos are in high demand. In 2020, Latinos will purchase over $750 million in books in English and Spanish."

Students always make up a large percentage of Latino Book & Family Festival attendees. Village News/Courtesy photo

The 23rd International Latino Book Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Oct. 16 and 17 via

The awards are designed to cover all types of books: Childrens, Non-Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Translation, and more. Presenters for the awards include legends who have helped the Latino community develop and who have awards named after them: Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Allende, Charlie Eriksen, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dolores Huerta, Mimi Lozano, Ambassador Julian Nava, and Victor Villaseñor.

Award-winning authors presenting the winners include Isabel Campoy and Daisey Martinez.

Whisler's organization is Empowering Latino Futures. Other than last year, the awards were presented in an arena. Looking ahead, he said he would like to have both live and virtual options.


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