Who We Are
Children’s Book Author and Human Rights activist Sergio Liden’s first 19 years of his life began running, literally. Fleeing first his country of birth, Spain (Madrid) – under then dictator General Franco – and again from a military coup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his family came to the United States and settled in sunny Southern California, in the quiet suburbs of Los Angeles when he was 5. But for Sergio, they were anything but quiet. This was just the beginning.
As a survivor of an extremely violent childhood, Liden attended Mountain Avenue Elementary from kindergarten to the sixth grade and Rosemont Jr. High for middle school. Before completing the seventh grade, he was institutionalized for attempted suicide. Being that he was in the throes of alcoholism, he has no recollection of his time in eighth grade and the following year he moved to Argentina to live with his grandmother. Unfortunately, he fell through the cracks again and attended ten different high schools.
As a senior at El Camino Real High School, he asked his counselor about his credits, and a dizzying array of sources told him conflicting answers, from being a freshman while others thought he was a senior. In his mind, dropping out appeared to be his only solution as he was about to be emancipated from Penny Lane Centers and had nowhere to go. With nothing, he moved to Austin, Texas, then to Washington D.C., and found himself in New York City where he attended a semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Liden credits his counselor and mentor Elin Bradley at Penny Lane Centers for saving his life. She was the one who drove Sergio to his first AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting at age 17. He has been sober ever since and holds a 32-year friendship with Ms. Bradley.
At 19, Sergio became homeless living on the streets, and though he was offered drugs multiple times, he maintained his sobriety. He did this by going to 7 to 10 AA meetings a day. With a lot of help and love, his life took a turn in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC where he met the woman that would later become his wife. From there he became a better counselor, friend, and listener, and found happiness for the first time.
As a Human Rights activist and volunteer counselor, Liden has worked with children in juvenile hall, those housed in “camps,” and with children in group homes. Liden has also worked with adult inmates in the LA county jail system – from the Men’s Central and Twin Towers, to female inmates at CRDF in Lynwood – and inmates housed at both Wayside and Wayside Supermax in Santa Clarita, California. He has also counseled members of law enforcement, both Sheriff, LAPD, and every branch of the military suffering from PTSD.
Sergio has also taken his work to state prisons around the country to meet with school shooters as well. On his most recent trip, he went to Texas’ death row to meet with an inmate. After the pandemic is over, he plans to meet with another prisoner who is on Alabama’s death row. Why? Because he believes these people would not be there if they had an Elin Bradley in their lives.
Sergio and his wife Anna had their first child, a daughter, on March 22, 2003. His inspiration for writing children’s books came after her birth. His daughter was born weighing 10 lbs., but compared to him, standing at a whopping 6’5 ½, she was little, to which he nicknamed her Itty Bitty. This was the third and boldest demarcation of his life before and after he had children. The first was Elin, the second was his wife.
One morning while his daughter was lying on the living room floor, barely able to lift her head, Sergio got the curiosity of lying down next to her and seeing the world from her perspective. He saw that the dining table was nothing but four legs holding “something up,” that the chairs were also just legs holding “something up,” and that the couch was this “long thing” that made no sense. It was at this moment when he realized that he must appear as a giant to his infant daughter and after observing his surroundings from her perspective, he ran over to his office and poured out his first book, Little Itty Bitty’s First Day.
Since then, Itty Bitty has had a teeny younger brother, and his two children have inspired Sergio to write over 30 children's stories.