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Francisco Jiménez


Person smiling in front of a bookshelf.

Welcome to the website for Professor Francisco Jiménez. Here, you can find some general biographical information, a list of all his publications, the transcript of an interview conducted back in 2002, his educational and professional background, selected book reviews for two of his recent books, study guides specifically helpful for students and educators in reading his books, Breaking Through and The Circuit,  and information on the best way to contact Professor Jiménez at Santa Clara University.

Francisco Jiménez emigrated with his family to California from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and as a child he worked in the fields of California. He is currently the Fay Boyle Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and served as Director of the Ethnic Studies Department at Santa Clara University from 2000 to 2005. Having received his B.A. from SCU and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Columbia University under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he has served on various professional boards and commissions, including the California Council for the Humanities, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC), the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Santa Clara University Board of Trustees and the Far West Lab for Educational Research and Development. He has published and edited several books on Mexican and Mexican American literature, and his stories have been published in over 100 textbooks and anthologies of literature.

He was selected the 2002 U.S. Professor of the Year by CASE and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


His collection of autobiographical short stories, The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (the University of New Mexico Press, 1997; Houghton Mifflin, 1999; Scholastic Press, 2000), was selected a Booklist Editors’ Choice 1997, and has received several literary awards: the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Fiction; the Americas Award; the California Library Association John and Patricia Beatty Award; a Jane Addams Honor Book Award; a New York Public Library 1999 Book for the Teen-Age; an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the FOCAL Award given by the Los Angeles Public Library System and the Reading the World Award given by the University of San Francisco.

The Circuit has been published in Spanish (Cajas de Cartón), Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Italian. The Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts adapted portions of the book for a one-act play, which has been performed in various schools and colleges in California and at the 2005 Frindge Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. Audio Bookshelf published a recording by Adrian Vargas (Cassette and CD) of the book in both English and Spanish. The Circuit was chosen for the Woodland Reads: One Book, One Community Reading Program by Woodland, California, spring of 2002, and by Napa County Reads, a community-wide reading program for fall, 2003. It was featured by the First Lady of Wisconcin in her online book club in 2004. Click here for reviews.


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His children’s book, La Mariposa won a Parent’s Choice Recommended Award, made the Americas Commended List and was a Smithsonian’s Notable Book for Children. It is published in both an English and Spanish edition by Houghton Mifflin.

The College Division and Trade Division of Houghton Mifflin published Cajas de carton, his Spanish translation of The Circuit.

His book, The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, an illustrated bilingual book for children, received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, selected a Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association, Américas Commanded List Award and the Cuffie Award from Publisher’s Weekly for “Best Treatment of a Social Issue.”


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Breaking Through, the sequel to The Circuit (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). was selected a Booklist Editors’ Choice, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, a Smithsonian’s Notable Book for Children and Young Adults, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen-Age, a Notable Books for a Global Society, CBC-Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, a Parents’ Choice Award, a Choice List of Books for 2002 from Children’s and Young Adult Literature, an American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists, the American Library Association’s Pura Bupré Authors Honor Book Award, the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Book Award, and the Americas Award. It was selected for the William Allen White Children’s and Young Adult Book Award 2003-2004 Master List. It was also selected for the Silicon Valley Reads: One Book, One Community Reading Program for the winter, 2003, and by Jefferson County, Oregon, Community Read Program, Spring 2005. Houghton Mifflin published his Spanish translation of Breaking Through in 2002 under the title Senderos fronterizos. Recorded Books, Inc. released an audiocassette recording of it in 2003. It was published in Japanese in 2005 and selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association for "We the People" Bookshelf program for 2008. Click here for reviews


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Reaching Out, the sequel to Breaking Through, follows the narrator's journey from high school through college. Leaving his home in Bonetti Ranch, a migrant community of dilapidated army barracks with no indoor plumbing or drinkable water, he sets off for college. He leaves behind a family struggling to pay for food and rent and a desperate broken father. Carrying memories of years of poverty and prejudice with him, he enters a world different from his own, and one in which he struggles not only with self-doubt about succeeding academically but also with finding work to send enough money home.

Yet as he types other student's papers in exchange for clothing, as he studies hard, as he meets with unexpected kindness, he uses those very memories of struggle and his family's values to see his way forward.


In this fourth book in his award-winning memoir series, Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University, Francisco Jiménez leaves everything behind in California—a loving family, a devoted girlfriend, and the culture that shaped him—to attend Columbia University in New York. Carrying memories of years of poverty and prejudice with him, he enters into a world culturally different from his own. Will he find community? Will he be able to excel among his Ivy Leagues classmates? How will he support his family back home now that his devoted father is too ill to work?

Honest and moving, Francisco Jiménez’s memoir comes alive with telling details about the warmth and resilience of family and the quest for identity against seemingly impossible odds. Continuing the best-selling life stories told in The Circuit, Breaking Through, and Reaching Out, Francisco Jiménez chronicles his efforts and struggles as he continues his education at Columbia University.

Click here for reviews and here for the press release for the press release.


Contact Francisco Jimenez