Sonia Manzano to be Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at Docs for Tots 20th Anniversary Celebration

At the Docs for Tots 20th Anniversary celebration in NYC on November 9th, 2023 Docs for Tots will award Sonia Manzano with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years focused on causes related to early childhood, addressing issues related to diversity in children’s entertainment, and inspiring kids and parents alike.

Sonia Manzano – creator of Alma’s Way, an animated series following 6-year-old Alma Rivera navigating everyday life with her friends and family in the Bronx – inspired by her own childhood.

When you think of Sonia Manzano, you immediately think of children and television. Her most recent accomplishment was creating and developing, with Fred Rogers Productions, an animated children’s program, Alma’s Way, which premiered October 2021. It has won an Imagen Award for Best Youth Programing, and a 2022 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Preschool Animated Program.

But what Ms. Manzano is best known for is performing the role of “Maria” on Sesame Street for 44 seasons, where her work affected the lives of millions of parents and children and garnered her two Emmy Award nominations in addition to the National academy of Arts and Science’s Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy in 2016. As a writer for the show, she took home 15 Emmys and recently received the 2022 Beacon Award from PBS.

A proud first-generation mainland Puerto Rican, Sonia was raised in the South Bronx. In the early 1970’s a scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University where she participated in the creation of the Broadway show hit Godspell.

I remembered my own childhood and how much I used to find refuge in my mind and how I escaped things that were bothering me. And I thought that would be a good thing to show children today – is that everybody has a mind, and they can all use it.

-Sonia Manzano, discussing Alma’s Way in an NPR interview

She is also a book author whose work includes No Dogs AllowedA Box Full of Kittens, Miracle on 133rd St for Simon and Schuster; The Lowdown on the Highbridge for BX Children’s Museum; and Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South BronxThe Revolution of Evelyn Serrano for Scholastic. Her most recent Scholastic novel, Coming Up Cuban, set in 1959, follows the lives of four children who represent different intersections of race and class during the Cuban Revolution.

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Investing in quality early learning programs is the most efficient way to affect school and life success and to reduce social expenditures later.

James Heckman, economist, Nobel laureate