Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of Mexican migrant farmers, grew up in the San Joaquin Valley in Southern California. As a child, he attended school in a variety of small towns from San Francisco to San Diego. He started school only speaking Spanish. Inspired by his teacher, Mrs. Sampson, Juan went on to not only learn English, but grew to love writing poetry.
Herrera was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Young Minds Dreaming Contest held for the third year in a row at the South Carolina State Library. When Knowitall sat down with him, Juan read excerpts in both English and Spanish from two of his children books, Calling the Doves and The Upside Down Boy.