A Video Book Report on Dancing Home

Have you submitted a video book report, yet, for the Young Adult Challenge? We have 10 Chromebooks and 10 Nexus 7 tablets ready to ship out in a few weeks after the deadline passes. Families with children ages 9 to 18 have until August 12th to submit their videos. Find all the details here.

Check out how easy it is to do a video book report by watching Marianna Cruz‘s awesome book report below. We thoroughly approve of her book choice (Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta will be thrilled!) and are so proud of her presentation. She told us her name, which book she chose, a little bit about it, why she likes it, and if she recommends it to other kids. She did an incredible job, don’t you think? ¡Bien hecho, Marianna!

¡Aplausos, por favor!

Spanish Magazines for Kids Hit Mainstream

Cricket magazines have long been considered a high-quality, educational and entertaining series of magazines for kids. The award-winning magazines with their unique artwork and engaging stories are rich in substance and a special treat for the children who receive copies each month.

But did you know that Cricket now offers some of the only Spanish-language magazines for kids? Iguana magazine used to be the only one that we know of, and it was geared for kids ages 7 to 12. Recently, Iguana was bought by Cricket, who took things one step further and created three additional Spanish magazines for children of different ages by offering their own Babybug, Ladybug, and Ask issues in Spanish.

Christianne Meneses Jacobs is the original creator of Iguana magazine and is now the talented editor behind these fantastic magazines. She brings with her a lot of experience and knowledge. And we’re so happy to support her efforts.

Since we talked yesterday about the importance of fingerplays and nursery rhymes in a child’s development, we thought today would be a great day to highlight Babybug en español. Written for children ages 6 months to 3 years old, it is a boardbook style magazine made with nontoxic ink, rounded corners, and no staples. With early learning a critical issue for Latino families that has a significant impact on academic performance, it is important for us to find the resources that we need to prepare our children for school. Babybug helps parents develop their children’s pre-literacy and pre-math skills with fun but simple illustrations and activities. Inside you’ll find stories and activities that teach them about the seasons, colors, number & letter recognition, ways to develop your child’s vocabulary, and ones that teach them about the world around them and their own bodies. Poems and short stories prevail and make learning a lot of fun for you nenes.

I especially love how they incorporate cultural folklore and fingerplays that allow us to pass down the traditional stories of our heritage. So many of them are not only fun, but educational, too.

And the best part is that ALL of these magazines are available in print or digital formats, so those of you with Android or Apple tablets can enjoy them that way, too.

To subscribe to one of these magazines, just visit Cricket’s website.

¡A leer!

8 Collections of Latino Nursery Rhymes, Lullabies, Songs, and Fingerplays

This post uses some affiliate links.

Rhymes, fingerplays, and songs are an extremely valuable part of a child’s education. Through them, children are able to expand their vocabulary and develop their fine-motor skills. They’re great for helping your children learn to follow directions, and to help them fine-tune their listening skills and improve their focus.

The great thing is that Latino culture is full of rhymes, fingerplays, songs, and lullabies. While each country in Latin America and Spain have their own unique stories, many are taught universally throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Few families don’t know the traditional Los pollitos dicen or arroz con leche songs.

And lucky for all of us, there are many books that have been written to share these cultural gems. Below is a list of some of our absolute favorite collections of Latino nursery rhymes, fingerplays, songs, and lullabies. Some of them are out of print and hard to find, so snatch up copies if you have the opportunity because these are must-have treasures for any Latino family home library!

How many do you recognize? Which books would you add?

Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury

by Alma Flor Ada
The most comprehensive collection of nursery rhymes, lullabies, riddles, proverbs, folklore, and even villancicos that is available in the U.S.

Arrorro, Mi Nino / Hushaby Baby: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games (affiliate link)

by Lulu Delacre
A bilingual collection of traditional Latino baby games and lullabies from fourteen Spanish-speaking countries, complete with melodies for chanting and singing.

Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhumes (affiliate link)

by Margot C. Griego
A lovely collection of traditional nursery rhymes that are not found
in many of the other books.

Diez deditos = 10 Little Fingers & Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America (affiliate link)

by José-Luis Orozco
A fantastic collection of Latin American finger rhymes and songs,
this book is filled with vibrant illustrations as well as music notations.

Las nanas de abuelita / Grandmother’s Nursery Rhymes

by Nelly Palacio Jaramillo
Las nanas de abuelita is a fun collection of rhymes, tongue twisters,
and riddles from Latin America.

Shake It, Morena!: And Other Folklore from Puerto Rico
by Carmer T. Bernier-Grand
Shake It, Morena! will easily capture the hearts of your children with its lively songs, games and riddles. Bernier-Grand does not include the more traditional rhymes
that are popular throughout Latin America, but instead features folklore
that is unique to Puerto Rico.

¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes

by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy
Another lovely collection of nursery rhymes from Latin America and the American Southwest, ¡Pio Peep! is a great complement to Mamá Goose.

Senor Cat’s Romance: And Other Favorite Stories from Latin America

By Lucia M. Gonzalez
An instant classic when it came out in 1997, this book is one of the first of its kind presenting six different stories that have been found in various versions
throughout Latin America.

Author Websites: A Virtual Walk With 5 Favorite Authors

Sometimes a book is so good, you wish it didn’t end. It had great characters, a dramatic setting, and a plot that kept you up long past Leno’s monologue.

Check the author’s website to find other books and share the inspiration behind the words that keep us turning pages, either paper or digital.

Here are 5 author websites that deliver all that and more:

Isabel Allende

The prolific and fabled author has a site that is both rich in content and cleverly designed with unexpected visual treats at every turn. Little colorful sketches pop up when you hover over menu selections and a rose is her signature graphic. The site has two versions, one in English and one in Spanish.

This site offers a deep dive into Allende’s life and work. It is worth a minute to look through Allende’s biography and family photos, as well as read the Musings section, which contains essays on life, love, and her approach to writing. A new window opens for the Blog, which is mostly about her press events and foundation charity work. A sideways scrolling Timeline (under the About section) of her writing life was a well done and unique feature I have not seen elsewhere and gives everything we want to know about the author.

The site made me sigh with author envy except for the light gray text in some areas which was a bit hard to read.

Cristina García

The author of The King Of Cuba, as well as a wide selection of other novels and non-fiction works, has a website that showcases not only her books but also the Las Dos Brujas Writing Workshops that she sponsors. The Books page is especially easy to navigate, with her beautiful covers arranged in a grid. Click on a cover and you are taken to a page for that book with icons for easy purchase from amazon.com and other vendors.

The site prominently displays a calendar of appearances, including Las Dos Brujas workshops and there is a link to a separate website for more about the workshops. Interestingly, the site doesn’t have the traditional About page but a C.V. resume page instead. A PDF version of the resume is available for download. In lieu of a blog, there is a Select Interviews section.

C.M. Mayo

Mayo is a prolific novelist, travel writer, translator, and poet who has had a long-standing love affair with Mexico. That spirit shines through on every page of this dense and downright fun website. With quirky retro art sprinkled throughout, the site has a lot to offer, from Mayo’s podcasts documenting the life and times of Marfa, Texas, to news about both her books and those that she has reviewed. Her books, including The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, are all listed on the homepage.

The Free For You page is stuffed full of goodies, from advice to writers to her list of essential books on Mexico. The Blog tab leads to another page chock-full of links to her current and past blogs, including her popular Madam Mayo blog, her blog about reading War and Peace, and much more, all written in a friendly, direct-to-you style.

Silvio Sirias

The author of Meet Me Under the Ceiba, set in his parents’ native Nicaragua, currently lives in Panama but publishes both fiction and non-fiction in the US. His website is a lovely and clean walk through his books and life, that lands his About section as the homepage, immediately inviting you into his world.

The website has links to two different blogs, Tropical Reflections and Tropical Perceptions. The two blogs keep his site consistent by using the graphics and background, but Reflections offers musings on “events close to my heart as well as on my life as a U.S. Latino writer living in Latin America.” The blogs are not updated as often as would be optimal but each post is a substantial essay.

Luis Alberto Urrea

This website takes the prize for Best Use of Color and Graphics. The author of novels including The Hummingbird’s Daughter and nonfiction books such as The Devil’s Highway has a standout website that includes a homepage slider that lets you click rather than zooming images on its own, a list of events, and a wry bio that makes you want to read more.

A unique feature on the site is the Book Club page. If your book club is reading one of his books, you can find discussion topics and an invitation to have him connect virtually with your club! The Blog is not frequently updated although the rest of the website is, notably the book news.

What is your favorite author website? Let us know!


Thriller and mystery author Carmen Amato’s own website is a work in progress! CLIFF DIVER, the first book in her Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “consistently exciting” and the next book in that series, HAT DANCE, will be released later this summer.

In HAT DANCE, Acapulco detective Emilia Cruz will risk a dance with the devil in a desperate attempt to stop an arsonist and find a missing girl. But when the music stops, the consequences will be deadly.

Check out all Carmen’s books at http://amazon.com/author/carmenamato and connect with her on Twitter @CarmenConnects or http://facebook.com/authorcarmenamato. Her Pinterest boards illustrate her books and can be found at http://pinterest.com/CarmenConnects.

Black Book of Colors: A Zoobean Pick + Free Bilingual Reading Guides

The following is a guest post and giveaway from our friends at Zoobean.

When I select books for my kids, I search for those that reflect their family and backgrounds so that they can see themselves in what they read. On the other hand, I, like most parents, look very hard to handpick a variety of books that also give my kids a window into other cultures and experiences. So, when we discoveredBlack Book of Colors, by Rosana Faria and Menina Cottin, I knew I had found something special. The book is about how a blind boy, Thomas, perceives color. The striking black pages, with faint designs and raised Braille, describe colors using every sense except sight. “Red is sour like unripe and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee.”

At Zoobean, we curate children’s book subscriptions, based on your preferences, and accompany them with reading guides. We also feature books each month, including The Black Book of Colors. A Zoobean curator, who is also a parent and children’s librarian, touches on how this book both resonates personally with kids and also gives them an entirely new perspective, “Sometimes children are both fascinated and frightened by disabilities and I think presenting blindness in such relatable and beautiful ways satisfies their curiosity while also making it less foreign and therefore less scary. It helps you plant the seeds of compassion and sensitivity.” I hope that followers of Latinas for Latino Lit and beyond share in this same experience with the extraordinary Black Book of Colors. This book is available in Spanish and English, and was first written in Spanish by a Venezuelan author. Here we have provided bilingual reading guides for you in English and Spanish, created by an award-winning educator in Washington, DC.

A recent review on Red Tricycle described Zoobean as “the lovechild of your fave indie bookstore and trusted children’s librarian.” I love that description! We hope you’ll keep in touch with us by signing up for our FREE catalog of children’s books, including the capacity to filter books by language, character’s background, topic, and much more.

– Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Chief Mom at Zoobean

The Giveaway

We are doing a Zoobean giveaway of 3 copies of The Black Book of Colors. To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.


Jordan Lloyd Bookey is Chief Mom at Zoobean, a discovery and personalization platform for kids’ books, all handpicked by parents. Before she decided to make the leap as an entrepreneur, Jordan served as Google’s Head of K-12 Education Outreach, where she was responsible for the company’s worldwide programs that expand access to technology and computer science kids. Jordan lives with her family in Washington, DC. You can usually find her at 1776 DC, working on Zoobean with her husband and Chief Dad, Felix, or exploring the city and trying to keep up with their two little kiddos.

A Special Message from Delta Dental’s Ratoncito Pérez: ¡A Leer! Let’s Read!

We are really fortunate to have such great sponsors this year. They’ve made it possible for us to offer so many great prizes to our participating families, and have supported us in many, many other ways.

And we are tickled to have received videos from Delta Dental, who called on their friend, Ratoncito Pérez, to create a special message for our summer reading children. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

The School Supplies Are In!

How’s it going in your house with the summer reading? Has your child read his or her eight titles yet?

In nine days on August 1st, the submission forms will go live on our website. All you’ll have to do is enter the email you registered with, list the eight titles your child has read, and a shipping address. The families of the first 100 kids ages 5 to 8 who submit this information and complete the summer reading course will receive a backpack full of school supplies!

We can’t hardly wait. Can you?

3 Great Resources for Bilingual Audiobooks

The art of storytelling has been in existence since the beginning of time. In fact, storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to develop your child’s literacy. Every child loves to listen to a good story, which is great because it teaches them several key skills associated with reading:

  • Sequence. First this happened, then that happened, and finally this happened. Children need to learn that stories follow a logical pattern with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Language flow. Speech has a rhythm. We don’t talk in a monotone, but our voices go up with excitement, and down at the end of a sentence. We pause after commas and periods. Listening and learning helps children when it comes to reading.
  • Vocabulary development. A great way to introduce new words (and their correct pronunciation) to your child is through storytelling. Your child learns the meaning of the words by the way it is used in the story, but if they are unclear about it, they can simply ask.

I have seen in my own children how audiobooks refine their listening skills and helps to build reading comprehension. If you have a child who is struggling to understand what he is reading, using audiobooks in conjunction with their reading practice could actually improve their ability to remember what the story is about, and help them internalize the meaning.

My husband asked me, “How do you know they’re not just memorizing it?” I don’t. Yes, they might be. And that’s okay, because when I go back and ask them to read a story again, pointing to the words as they read, they remember the story, which in turn helps them to remember word sounds and decode what is written on the page. Their eyes are seeing the word, while their brain is remembering the sounds and the meaning. Next time they run across that word, it will be easier to read.

I think audiobooks also help children learn the rhythm of a well-written story. By listening, they learn about inflection and intonation. It trains their ear, so that they will begin to look ahead as they read so that they can read aloud in a similar manner.

They are also a wonderful way to introduce young children to literature that is too difficult for them to read, for example, the Classics. I think if we wait until children are old enough to read some of the classics, then our kids will be bored. They have to learn to appreciate well-written literature while they are young, before their minds get used to the easy “candy” on the bookshelf. The garbage that doesn’t really inspire the imagination, or incite thoughtful consideration, but rather just evokes a good laugh and is written purely for entertainment’s sake. I’m not saying there’s not a time and a place for a mindless story, but I think we ought to train our children’s minds to savor the challenge and sophistication of well-written literature from the start. And a well-told audiobook of good children’s literature can capture and entertain a child’s mind as easily as the next book.

Parents looking for some great bilingual audiobooks should check out these sites:

  • LoritoBooks.com – High quality, word-for-word audiobook read-alongs for young readers and second language learners. Titles are carefully chosen for their culturally relevant content and values.
  • BarefootBooks.com – A beautiful line of books and audio books by a company dedicated to using the power of stories to nourish the creative spark in everyone and strengthen connections with family, the global community, and the earth. Be sure to check out their growing collection of Spanish titles.
  • DelSolBooks.com – A small, independent bookseller of Spanish, English, and bilingual books & CDs by the acclaimed authors, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, and songwriter, Suni Paz.

You Saw the Movie, Now Read the Book: 5 Latino movies based on books you need to read

They say that a picture paints a thousand words. But what to do once you have seen the picture?

Read the thousand words, of course.

Here are five great books that you probably didn’t know provided the basis for equally great movies.

1. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Set in a small village in New Mexico during World War II, the story centers around, Antonio, a young boy, and Ultima, a curandera healer who uses herbs and magic to cure illness. She is accused of being a witch and the village becomes a battle field.

The book has been both lauded and banned in various places, but in 2008 it was selected as one of 12 classic American novels selected for The Big Read, a community-reading program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. The 2013 movie starring Luke Ganalon, Miriam Colon, and Benito Martinez was praised for its sweeping cinematography and authenticity.

More about the book can be found on its amazon.com page.

Haven’t seen the movie? Learn more from its imdb.com movie page here.

2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Forget Romeo and Juliet. It is THE book about the ultimate love story. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall in love but she marries for money, not love. To compensate, he has 622 affairs over the next 50 years. And then her husband dies . . .

Sometimes I think this is such a well known book, not because of the 2007 movie adapted from the book starring Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt, but because of the 2001 movie Serendipity: Kate Beckinsale writes her phone number in a copy of the book but leaves it in a second-hand store instead of giving it to John Cusack. He spends the rest of the movie looking for that particular copy, only to have his fiancée give it to him the night before their wedding.

More about Love in the Time of Cholera can be found on its amazon.com page.

Haven’t seen the movie? Learn more from its imdb.com movie page here.

3. Man on Fire by A.J. Quinnell

In this 1980 thriller, an American soldier of fortune named Creasy takes a job guarding the young daughter of a wealthy family in Italy at the height of mafia violence. He’s seen too much, been to too many bad places and his drinking is a problem. But the daughter is in many ways as vulnerable and lonely as he is. And when the inevitable kidnapping takes place, Creasy will take his own revenge.

This novel is included in this list because the 2004 Man on Fire movie moved the action to Mexico City, pitting Creasy (Denzel Washington) against the drug cartels. It was a marvelous update of the story. Also, part of it was filmed about 2 blocks from my house when we lived in Mexico City so I can attest as to the authenticity of the location (took the dog for a walk and literally stumbled on the movie trailers!). Marc Anthony gives a great performance as the sobbing father of the little girl. I’d love to know who else read the book and also liked the movie adaptation.

More about Man on Fire can be found on its amazon.com page.

Haven’t seen the movie? Learn more from its imdb.com movie page here.

4. Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

Art historian Hayden Herrera wrote what is considered the definitive biography of the iconic (and famously tortured) Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The book provided a substantial amount of the background for the gorgeous 2002 movie Frida starring Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, the equally iconic muralist Diego Rivera. The colors alone make this movie worth seeing, not to mention the opening sequence of Frida on a bed being pulled by a cart. Amazing imagery that captured the woman perfectly.

In addition to being a fearless portrayal of Kahlo’s physical infirmities, emotional neediness, links to Russian socialism and revolutionaries, and (well, in my view at least) strange marriage to Rivera, the book is a commentary on Kahlo’s sometimes controversial art. Pictures included.

More about Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo can be found on its amazon.com page.

Haven’t seen the movie? Learn more from its imdb.com movie page here.

5. The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols

In the tiny town of Milagro, New Mexico, bean farmer Joe Mondragon diverts water to his beanfield after big city developers attempt to take water rights for a new development. Soon his beans spark “war” between the locals and the interlopers. Joe Mondragon is an “everyman” hero and the people and places in this book are very memorable.

Actor/director Robert Redford took the book’s rich characters and true-to-location spirit and created a funny yet stunning 1988 movie starring Rubén Blades and Sonia Braga that, like the book, leaves you rooting for the underdog. The movie was Redford’s directorial debut and he nailed it, staying close to the book’s tone and storyline. Of course any movie starring the gorgeous Sonia Braga is terrific. (BTW, did you see her in Moon Over Parador with Raul Julia and Richard Dreyfus?!)

More about The Milagro Beanfield War can be found on its amazon.com page.

Haven’t seen the movie? Learn more from its imdb.com movie page here.

Which movies have you seen? Which books have you read? Did the movie do the book justice? Have a few others to suggest? Let us know in the comments!


Carmen Amato writes thrillers and mysteries as well as a blog about encounters, choices, and travel at http://carmenamato.net/blog. CLIFF DIVER, the first book in her Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “consistently exciting” and the next book in that series, HAT DANCE, will be released later this summer.

In HAT DANCE, Acapulco detective Emilia Cruz will risk a dance with the devil in a desperate attempt to track down an arsonist and find a missing girl. But as Acapulco burns, the music comes with a price that no honest cop should have to pay.

Check out all Carmen’s books at http://amazon.com/author/carmenamato and connect with her on Twitter @CarmenConnects. Her Pinterest boards illustrate her books and can be found at http://pinterest.com/CarmenConnects.

L4LL on Telemundo

Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL)’s Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program on Telemundo’s Sunday Public Affairs Show
By: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Here at L4LL, our “communications strategy” is based on the ol’ principle: que corra la voz del pueblo–old fashioned word of mouth. But when you’re able to tell your story to a bigger part of el pueblo, well, that just means that more people will have the opportunity to hear about our kids summer reading program and say, “Hey, this would be perfect for Yunior. I’m going to sign up.” Or: “Oye, how about Doña María’s granddaughter? I’m going to pass it on.”

So we were super psyched when Telemundo network’s Sunday Public Affairs show Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart invited us to explain our program including:

  • The literacy and education need we identified in our community that galvanized us to create the summer reading program and what we plan to accomplish.
  • How we designed it specifically for Latino families–with reading lists of U.S. Latino children’s books, all printables in English and Spanish, and weekly newsletters to parents with literacy tips to keep the kiddos motivated and reading.
  • If you speak Spanish but your child is reading in English, we give you ideas to help you support your reader.

In José’s absence, Telemundo national correspondent Lori Montenegro anchored and busted out with her dog-eared copy of Cinderella! She’s kept the first book her parents gave her and told us it set her curiosity on fire–what would lead her years later to pursue storytelling as a journalist.

Award-winning author and illustrator Lulu Delacre, who made the first author PSA video for the L4LL YouTube channel in support of the summer reading program joined us to speak about the importance of parental involvement at the earliest age in their children’s reading development and spoke about her inspiration–the rich Latin American oral and literary tradition parents can share with their kids.

Click here to watch Latinos for Latino Literature (L4LL)’s co-founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. and critically-acclaimed author and illustrator Lulu Delacre on Telemundo’s Enfoque with guest host Lori Montenegro. This broadcast aired on Sunday, July 14, 2013.
Do you have one book that you read as a child that changed your life? Please leave a comment!