How to Use Amazon’s Categories to Find Hidden Latino Gems

Since the beginning of the month, L4LL has focused tremendously on the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. But we have not forgotten the adults! So starting today, we’ll be running articles every Friday on topics just for our adult readers by the talented author, Carmen Amato.

It’s the world’s largest bookseller. If you love books the way I love books, chances are you have surfed amazon.com.

But with millions of books on offer and thousands more uploaded every day, readers have almost too much to choose from. So how to navigate this huge online bookstore and find the Latino lit you want?

The answer is Categories.

Amazon’s Dual System

It is not readily apparent but amazon has two sets of categories; one for print books and another for Kindle eBooks. At first this might not make sense, but this system grew out of the Kindle publishing platform and actually helps the book search process. Here’s why.

A single book published in both print and eBook formats that is for sale on amazon can be listed in multiple categories. Generally print books are listed in 3 categories and eBooks are listed in 2. The categories overlap to some extent. For example, both print and Kindle categories have a Mystery, Thriller and Suspense category with a Police Procedural sub-category. Clicking on a category will take you to a listing of all books in that category in order of sales ranking.

When you click on the format options below the book title (Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle) the page for that format will list the format-specific categories.

If you search for books on a computer you’ll see both print and eBook categories but if you are surfing amazon with your Kindle or Kindle-enabled device you’ll only see the eBook categories.

To see categories on your computer, scroll to the bottom of any book page. Click on a category and amazon will not only show you the books in that category but give you a list of all book categories on the left side of your screen.

On a Kindle, you can find categories from the Kindle Storefront screen simply by clicking on “Books.” While viewing a book page on a Kindle device the categories are hidden under “Book Extras.”

Notable Categories

Amazon doesn’t have a single specific category for Latino lit. Instead, readers need to narrow searches to sub-categories. Here are a few worth checking out.

For Print:

Books > Literature and Fiction > World Literature > Latin American
This category has both Spanish and English language books in it including top-ranked (at the time of this writing) CIEN AÑOS DE SOLEDAD (Spanish Edition) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez .

Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Hispanic
This category has fiction in English written by Latino authors. THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET by Sandra Cisneros currently tops this category.

Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > Hispanic & Latino
This is an absorbing category and one that I’ll be visiting more often. MY BELOVED WORLD by Justice Sonia Sotomayor tops it with 819 reviews, too! But it is worth noting that in the same book is listed in a very different category for Kindle: Kindle eBooks > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Lawyers & Judges.

Books > History > Americas > Central America
Books > History > Americas > Mexico
Books > History > Americas > South America

Books > History > Americas > Caribbean & West Indies
This is a great grouping of sub-categories and ensures that nothing will fall through the cracks in the history department, at least. My Twitter friend Alfredo Corchado’s book was #2 for the Mexico history sub-category: MIDNIGHT IN MEXICO: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.

For Kindle:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Americas
Once again, history is one of the easiest set of categories to navigate. What you see is what you get.

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > International Mystery & Crime
Mysteries from around the globe can be found here including CLIFF DIVER: An Emilia Cruz Novel by Carmen Amato ranked #11 in this sub-category.

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction
This category contains many notable examples of Latino lit like DROWN by Junot Díaz and THE LADY MATADOR’S HOTEL by Cristina Garcia. But this is a huge sub-category and is a lot to sift through.

Note—amazon updates rankings hourly so the above sub-category rankings may have changed since this was written.

Time Well Spent

Click on a category to pull up the list of books. Click on a book and see in which categories it is listed. In addition, amazon will automatically give you a horizontal scroll on every book page of additional and similar books you might like. If viewing on a Kindle the “Customers Who Viewed” section is a link at the bottom of the book page.

You’ll keep finding interesting books but keep an eye on your watch. Category surfing can be more addictive than Pinterest!

Do you know of other categories L4LL readers might be interested in? Was this article helpful? Leave us a comment and make sure to sign up to get this blog in your inbox, too.

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Carmen AmatoCarmen Amato is the author of political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Both draw on her experiences living in Mexico and Central America where she discovered the best coffee on earth. Her next book, HAT DANCE: An Emilia Cruz Novel is due out later this summer. For more check out:
http://carmenamato.net
http://facebook.com/authorcarmenamato
http://pinterest.com/carmenconnects/
@CarmenConnects
Find her books at http://amazon.com/author/carmenamato

Children’s Books About the Immigration Experience

This post contains referral links, which help support the work of this site.

Inspired by Duncan Tonatiuh’s TED Talk (that we shared yesterday), we decided that now would be a great time to share some of our favorite children’s books that put the immigration experience into a form that kids can truly understand. The titles below focus on children and families and the hardships and adventure that come with moving to a new country, a new culture, and a new language. But these books are not just for children born and raised here in the United States. They are also to give immigrant children a chance to see their stories in print and know that there are many other children who have experienced a similar situation.

If you are looking for great children’s literature on immigration, consider the following titles. All the links are to our affiliate Amazon stores.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
by Duncan Tonatiuh

My Shoes and I
by René Colato Laínez

My Diary from Here to There
by Amada Irma Pérez

A Movie in My Pillow
by Jorge Argueta

Dancing Home
by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

Under the Mesquite
by Guadalupe García McCall

Video of the Week: Life on the other side / La vida en el otro lado: Duncan Tonatiuh at TEDxSanMigueldeAllende

This week’s video features author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh’s TED talk in San Miguel de Allende. You’ll find out why he began writing children’s books and how his illustrations are

inspired by Ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. He also discusses why he has chosen the themes of migration and comparing/contrasting the lives of Mexican and American children for his children’s books. It’s a great listen and we encourage you to take the time to watch the video.

How to Use Incentives to Get Your Child to Read

Using incentives to get children to read is somewhat of a controversial topic. Some people feel that children should read just for the fun of it and not because they’ll get a toy or prize.

But the reality is that kids sometimes need to be encouraged to read. And we also think that their hard work should be recognized and rewarded. This is why our summer reading packets contain a printable certificate of achievement. However, we think that incentives are helpful for motivating kids to to keep reading during the summer and throughout the year.

How to Use Incentives:

First, establish a clear goal. Talk it over with your child and come up with a realistic goal together. For example, you might decide that your child will read one book a day, one a week, or 30 minutes a day. And also determine how long they’ll do this work. Will they do it for a month? Two months? All summer?

Second, use a reward chart or reading log. Reading logs and reward charts are a way to monitor your child’s progress. This is important so that you can make sure that your child is sticking to his goal. Kids also like to be able to see the progress that they are making and how close they are to meeting their goal. Our summer reading packets include printable reading logs.

Third, reward your child when she meets her goal. The most important thing is to be consistent and reward your child when she is successful and completes her work. The reward recognizes her efforts and helps to motivate her in the future.

Types of Incentives:

Incentives don’t have to be physical or expensive rewards. Be creative and think outside the box. Remember the goal is simply motivation and recognition. And we want to raise children who love to read just for pleasure. Incentives should play a temporary role; along the way your child may discover the sheer joy of reading and learn to read just for pleasure.

Here is a short list of possible incentives, but you know your child best, so choose rewards that appeal to them specifically.

  • A trip to the park
  • An extra 15 minutes at bed time
  • An extra 15 minutes to sleep in the morning!
  • A trip to the bookstore for a new book
  • A movie
  • Frozen yogurt
  • A small LEGO mystery pack
  • A trip to the museum
  • A trip to the zoo
  • A pet fish!
  • A fishing trip
  • Their favorite meal
  • A party!
  • A new toy
  • A scavenger hunt
  • A new app
  • A new computer game
  • A new bike
  • A gift card to their favorite store
  • A [fill in the blank]…..Be creative!!

Awesome Incentive for Participating Families with Kids 4 and Under

We are extremely pleased to welcome Monarca Language as a new sponsor of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. It is an online, subscription-based company that supports preschool learning with high quality printable materials and lesson plans in Spanish. From pre-literacy to early math skills to reasoning, with Monarca’s printables you can help your preschooler learn the skills they’ll need to enter kindergarten.

Monarca Language has offered a one-year subscription to their Mariposa Club to the first 5 families in the 4 and under group who complete our summer reading program and read 8 books to their children. The one-year memberships are worth $93 and you can read about everything that goes with the Mariposa Club membership by clicking on the image below…

This is a fantastic prize for those of you participating with kids under 4. So grab your kids and a few books and make sure you are reading to them everyday!!

If you haven’t registered your family yet, it’s super easy. Just go register very easily here, and then download your Summer Reading Packet in either English or Spanish. Fill out the pledge and post it in a visible spot where you’ll see it everyday and remember to read to your nene. We’ve even included a simple reading log to help you keep track of your minutes.

On August 1st, we will post the submission form for the summer reading program and all you have to do is list 8 books that you’ve read to your child over the summer.

Happy reading!

How to Inspire Your Teen to Read

photo courtesy of Marta Darby

The following is a guest post by Latina blogger and homeschooling mami, Marta Verdes Darby of My Big Fat Cuban Family.

“Why do they always assign such boring books in school?”

The conversations around our dinner table are often lively and loud and usually start off with a pointed question. We recently had one such discussion about reading assignments and high school.
My daughter, Lucy, is 19 and just finished her second year of college. My son, Jonathan, is going to be a high school senior. They’re both home educated.

As a homeschooling family, we pretty much spent most of our days reading. Our educational philosophy started with the premise that as long as they were able to read and engaged in learning, they would be well prepared for life. That has definitely been the case.
Their high school experience has been through online classes at an accredited high school based on an Independent Study Program. In other words, they have to follow and meet the standards assigned to all other California high school students.
Back to the “boring book” question…

Jonathan pointed out that he loves to read. He enjoys fantasy and loves a well crafted story with a happy ending. It MUST have a happy ending. Most of his friends do, too. He and Lucy both love to get lost in a story.
The books assigned in school, he argued, meet none of their criteria. After the assigned reading come the “critical thinking” questions, which seem to start off with the assumption that the reader is not thinking at all as he or she reads and so must be prompted to think.

If you’ve ever listened to young adults discussing a book that they love with characters that they can relate to, you know there’s no need for prompting. They are naturally curious. They naturally question motivation. They love to discuss plot and details. They naturally make suggestions about what they might have done differently or how they would have taken a plot twist in a different direction. They will easily share disappointments and story successes. In other words, they must be engaged.

Find some honest and well told stories. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling immediately come to mind. Or the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. There are some fabulous Latino authors, as well. We recommend: Christina Diaz Gonzalez, who wrote The Red Umbrella and A Thunderous Whisper; Chantel Acevedo’s Song of the Red Cloak; Torrey Maldonado’s Secret Saturdays; and for Spanish readers, Paola B. Sur, who wrote the haunting El Lago de los Milagros.

The thing that keeps teen readers coming back for more is the same thing that keeps adults interested in a good book: a great story with unforgettable characters, a hero to relate to, excitement, tension, difficult questions, and, the most necessary ingredient in my son’s opinion…a happy ending.

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Marta Darby is an avid blogger, business owner, Cuban cook, graphic designer, scrapbooker, photographer and homemaker. She was born in Havana and left Cuba with her family when she was 5 years old. She likes to tell anecdotes and stories about her family (all 40 of them!), her passions (dulce de leche and red lipstick), and especially being Cuban. She is happily married to her fabulous gringo husband, Eric, and lives with him and their four children in a tiny house with a white picket fence. You can read more from Marta on her blog, My Big Fat Cuban Family.

35+ Ways to Keep Your Child Excited About Reading

One challenge that parents face during the summer is keeping their kids excited about reading. So we’ve put together a short list of ways to make reading fun.

Did we miss one? Feel free to share your own tricks with all of us and the other families participating in the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program by leaving a comment below!

  1. Read with your child.
  2. Make it special and set up a comfortable reading nook just for your child.
  3. Visit the bookstore or library on a weekly basis.
  4. Translate a story!
  5. Read the book…then watch the movie. Discuss which one you liked better and why.
  6. Involve friends. Invite your child’s friends over for a book swap party.
  7. Create your own book club and meet weekly to discuss new books.
  8. Make puppets and then have your child(ren) put on a puppet show of the story for friends and family.
  9. Dress up in costumes and re-enact the story! (Who doesn’t love a good play?)
  10. Write up a book report.
  11. Help your child create a video book review!
  12. Add variety. Read books, magazines, eBooks, cookbooks, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, comic books, graphic novels, classics, action & adventure…
  13. Ask your child to write and illustrate his/her own story.
  14. Read outside.
  15. Read in the car.
  16. Download Storia.
  17. Go to the park to read!
  18. Make up different endings.
  19. Buy picture books without words and make up your own story.
  20. Use story boards.
  21. Make meals mentioned in the story.
  22. Create a felt story board.
  23. Join a summer reading program.
  24. Listen to audiobooks.
  25. Create a reward chart.
  26. Use reading logs to record their progress.
  27. Use story cubes.
  28. Use incentives (these can be physical items or simple privileges).
  29. Read aloud. Pick a book you both love and take turns reading to each other.
  30. Dress it up! Gift wrap a book you’ve carefully selected and give it to your child as a gift.
  31. Make sure your child is reading books on her level. Books that are too difficult or advanced make reading a lot less fun.
  32. Buy a fun book light at the dollar store.
  33. Bribery! (Lol!!)
  34. Give your child his own library card.
  35. Read to a pet!
  36. Read to a stuffed toy.
  37. Stay up late reading!
  38. Read to a friend.
  39. Read to Abuela or Abuelo (Grandma or Grandpa).
  40. Let your child choose the book.
  41. Find books on topics your child is interested in.
  42. Vary your child’s reading routine.

L4LL YouTube Channel: Curating U.S. Latino Children’s Literature Videos on YouTube

By: Viviana Hurtado

You may have seen Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del Mambo featured in last week’s Video of the Week/Video de la Semana. You maybe have also seen our first Google Hangout where my partner Monica Olivera, Google’s Head of Multicultural Marketing Eliana Murillo, and I introduced the program.

If you’re following us on social media you ran across this:

We are designing the L4LL YouTube Channel to be an online multimedia library available to students and families with web access. In effect, we are curating a library of U.S. Latino children’s literature in English, Spanish, and both languages that tell beautiful stories while advancing critical literacy skills according to age group and learning levels.

We are combining the best of a traditional library–catalogues–and the best of technology–playlists–to divide book videos into micro-categories:

More categories or playlists are being created.

Please click here to check out the L4LL Playlists that catalogue our favorite U.S. Latino children’s literature, highlighting the rich, vibrant talent developing in the U.S. and rooted in the deep tradition of Spanish and Latin American literature. We have also included subscriptions to some of our favorite channels such as Sesame Street and TEDEducation, using multimedia to further learning while having fun!

We also want to ask you for your suggestions: What is your favorite Latinos Kids Lit book or story? Please share and send us a link. We would love to include it in our YouTube library!

It’s Young Adult Literature Day!

What do Twilight, The Hunger Games and The House On Mango Street have in common? All fall into the same literary category – young adult (YA) literature. One takes on vampires, another a bleak, cut throat future for the human race while Mango tackles the profound journey of growing up Latina in Chicago. Wildly different yet all centered on the story of an adolescent protagonist coming of age and overcoming some of the most defining obstacles of their young lives.

Young adult (YA) literature is seeing a huge rise in popularity after the first two aforementioned books were turned into super successful movie franchises. Over the next week L4LL will be celebrating YA literature. Why now? Sure it’s muy trendy right now but it’s also a multifaceted genre with a vast selection for readers of all ages and interests. Not to mention, YA literature could stand to gain from new Latino voices.

In preparing for YA day, I wanted to start with a definition of what exactly constitutes “young adult” however after some Googling around, before speaking with any experts, I quickly learned there’s no real concrete answer. Generally, though not exclusively, there is an adolescent main character, targeted marketing towards young adults, use of contemporary slang, some might argue less complex writing than adult literature (I don’t agree with this one) and adult characters playing a minimal role. However, despite reading through a lot of very stuffy, well-researched pieces online, I found the definition which most resonated with me was found in a simple blog post, “Young adult literature is about discovery; adult literature about re-discovery.”

The beauty of YA literature is how it acts as an umbrella over a multitude of genres. You can have a piece of YA literature which can fall into the fantasy, mystery or romantic category. The possibilities are endless. It’s literature which can appeal to a broad range of readers from your teenage sister to your mami, anyone with a love for a good story can find something to appease their appetite in YA literature.

We’ve got an exciting list of YA literature for and by Latinos to kick off your summer reading. If you’re a bookworm, aspiring writer or both, we invite you to join us to dive in deep into this amazing world of young adults coming into their own. Do you have a favorite young adult literature novel for or by a Latino author? Let us know in the comments!

Video of the Week: First Author PSA: Author & Illustrator Lulu Delacre’s Special Message for Latino Families

This week we are most pleased to share with you this special video created by author and illustrator, Lulu Delacre, for all the participating families in the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. It is archived in the L4LL YouTube Channel.

Muchisimas gracias to Sra. Delacre for being willing to create this short clip with advice for Latino parents! And thank you to her young technical assistant, Emily Eaglin, for editing this piece. It is archived in the L4LL YouTube Channel.

¡A leer!