Literacy Craft Tutorial: Mis Libros No-Sew Book Bag


This week, the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is SUMMER. The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Kathy Cano-Murillo who publishes the site,

Mis Libros No-Sew Book Bag
by Kathy Cano-Murillo

Life is too short to carry around just one book, right? Why not several? Here is a great way to recycle an old t-shirt into a super cute book bag! Use fabric paint to add the saying “mis libros” – “my books!”


  • 1 unwanted T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Fabric Paint
  • Letter Stencils
  • Sponge Pouncers


no-sew-book-bag 2

1. Fold the shirt in half and cut off the sleeves.

2. Also cut off the neck.

3. Open the shirt and cut 3” notches all along the bottom.

4. Stretch each notch and tie in a knot all the way across to seal the bottom of the bag.


no-sew-book-bag 3
5. Cut the seams off the top of the shirt and tie to make the handles.

6. Set the shirt flat and place stencils flat.

7. Apply the fabric paint in a pouncing motion and let dry.


No-sew-book-bag 1


Kathy-Cano-MurilloKathy Cano-Murillo is a writer/novelist, artist/illustrator and founder of the award-winning site, Known for her glittery “Mexi-boho” style, she is a national spokesperson for iLoveToCreate and a creative influencer for Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores. She has a product line that is carried in Michaels stores and is a former columnist for The Arizona Republic, and has authored nine books, two of them novels. She have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, HGTV, DIY Network, Lifetime TV and more. She is a third-generation Mexican-American, a native Phoenician, mom, wifey, with five Chihuahuas.

35+ Places Your Kid Can Read a Book

35 places to read a book
To show how easy it is to find time to read, we’ve started a list of places where any child can read a book. What would you add to the list?

  1. In a car
  2. On a plane
  3. In a hammock
  4. On the couch
  5. At the doctor’s office
  6. On a bus
  7. Under a table
  8. In a fort
  9. With a dinosaur
  10. In a box
  11. On the stairs
  12. At the park
  13. By the pool
  14. In a barn
  15. In the bathroom
  16. On a train
  17. At the beach
  18. On a bed
  19. In a tent
  20. On a hay bale
  21. In a boat
  22. In the library
  23. On Abuela’s (Grandma’s) lap
  24. On a bench
  25. At a desk
  26. In a restaurant
  27. On a swing
  28. In front of the fire
  29. At a bookstore
  30. In a bucket
  31. In a wheelbarrow
  32. On the subway
  33. In a sandbox
  34. Under a tree
  35. In the kitchen
  36. With a friend


Video of the Week: Irania Macias Patterson


*This post contains affiliates links.

This week’s DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is NATURE/NATURALEZA, and one of the books recommended in this camp is Irania Macia Patterson’s Chipi Chipis, Small Shells of the Sea (affiliate link). So we were excited to find this video of Irania discussing in Spanish her book, writing for Latino children, and encouraging authors in North Carolina (and around the country).

Literacy Craft Tutorial: DIY Gardening Sticks

Literacy Craft DIY Gardening Sticks

Literacy Craft DIY Gardening Sticks

This week, the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is NATURE. The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Dariela Cruz who publishes the site,

DIY Gardening Sticks

Having fresh herbs and vegetables on hand at  home is very helpful and healthy. If you live in the city like we do, it is great for kids to see where food comes from, too.

Making labels for the plants is a fun way for the kids to practice spelling and identify words. For these labels, I decided to make them as sticks with polymer clay. This clay is long-lasting and easy to use. Older kids can help by stamping the word for each plant and younger kids can help coloring the words at the end.

It is super easy to make these gardening sticks for labeling the plants. Just follow these instructions:



A packet of polymer clay (4 oz will be enough for 4 sticks)
Cutting tools
Letter stamps
Rolling pin (to use only with the clay)
Oil-based Sharpie markers
Parchment paper




Start by rolling the clay and spreading it so that it is about ⅛ of an inch thick.



Cut the clay with the craft knife in a rectangle of about 7 inches tall and 1 inch wide.



Cut the bottom of the rectangle into a point. This will make it easier to sink it in the dirt later.



Now for the fun part! Stamp the name of your plant, letter by letter, top to bottom. Keep in mind that depending on the color of your clay, it might be a little hard to see the word at this point.



Bake in a preheated oven on a tray covered with parchment paper at 275ºF for about 25 minutes. Take it out and let it cool completely.





After they are completely cooled, add color to the markers by filling in the letters with a Sharpie and add decorative details on the top of each one so it’s easier to identify.

Optional: You can also use stamps in the shape of your veggies, herbs, or any other decoration and add it to the top of the word.






Dariela is a Venezuelan mom and graphic designer currently living in San Diego, CA. She blogs at Mami Talks, where she shares the day-to-day as a mom of her 6 year-old son Adrian and 3 year-old daughter Maya. In her blog you can always find fresh ideas, crafts and inspirations filled with lots of photography. She is passionate about family, culture and anything art related. Connect with Dariela on twitter: @darielacruz, Facebook, Google+ or her Design Blog.



L4LL Promotes Summer Reading on Univision’s Despierta America

L4LL Promotes Summer Reading on Univision's Despierta America

We are very excited to collaborate this summer with Univision Educación in partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the importance of summer reading and explain Common Core standards.

That includes a series of appearances on Univision’s highly-rated national morning show Despierta América. L4LL co-founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. shares tips to help parents and students combat the so-called Summer Slide where students can lose up to 22% of what they learned during the school year during summer vacation.

L4LL Promotes Summer Reading on Univision's Despierta America

Despierta América host Satcha Pretto and L4LL co-founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. discuss tips to prevent summer reading loss. Courtesy: Univisión

L4LL 5 Tips to Prevent Summer Reading Loss for All Readers

  1. Find ways to include activities and projects that boost literacy skills: Some examples include challenging your child to write letters (not email!), poetry, or creating a family history album with in-depth stories about family members.
  2. Educational apps: Look for those that develop reading and writing skills such as story builders.
  3. Embrace audiobooks: Did you know that listening to stories improves reading comprehension and teaches grammar and sentence structure?
  4. Keep your students engaged by varying the subject matter: Studies show that reading mysteries can improve reading comprehension and reading the Great Books improves empathy.
  5. Give them access to books: Take them to the library, the bookstore, give them eReaders, stock your tablet with eBooks!

L4LL 5 Tips to Prevent Summer Reading Loss for Older Students

  1. Incorporate technology: Instead of game central, turn your tablet into educational central with access to eBooks and eMagazines.
  2. Use incentives smartly: Don’t pay your kid to read. Do recognize her hard work and efforts at the end of the summer with something she’ll enjoy. L4LL is giving away up to 20 Chromebooks and Google Play gift cards to tweens and teens who complete our summer reading program.
  3. Start a book club: Reading can be more fun when you read together. Invite your child’s friends to participate in a book club over the summer and meet every week or every other week to discuss or share books.​
  4. Create a Reading Space: Let your child create her own reading nook in the house and encourage her to personalize the area.​
  5. Avoid boring books!: Teens want stories that capture their emotions and to which they can relate. Check out our specially curated L4LL recommended summer reading lists of U.S. Latino children’s authors and illustrators.

Click here to read the article and tips in Spanish, as well as watch the Despierta América interview in Spanish with host Satcha Pretto and L4LL co-founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. This broadcast aired on June 18, 2014.


How to Read to Young Children

How to Read to Young Children

One of the best ways to develop your child’s literacy skills is to begin reading to him at birth… and earlier! Even though your child might not understand the words, their developing brain begins processing language before they are even born. Studies show that babies can learn their first lullabies in the womb.

But once your child is born, it is important for you to read regularly to her to help build her vocabulary and teach her the basics of language such as sentence structure, grammar, and more. It doesn’t matter what language you read to your baby in because once they learn the basic literacy skills in one language, they can transfer those to a second one.

The way you read to your child can enhance his learning and boost his literacy skills. Here are five thing you can do to maximize your reading time together.

Sit together in a comfortable spot.

If it is possible to create a special reading area in your home, do it! But remember, reading can take place any time and anywhere. Try to choose somewhere comfortable for both of you like the couch or a cozy chair. This lessens outside distractions and makes it easier for you both to focus on the story and the act of reading.

Read with emotion.

A great storyteller captures the mood of the story with his voice, so be animated as you read. Use different voices for different characters. Let your voice rise and fall as the story moves through exciting moments. Pause now and then to increase the suspense and make your child wonder what will happen next.

Point to the words.

Help your child learn to associate sounds with specific letters or groups of letters. By the time he starts reading, he will already recognize common words such as “the,” “an,” “he,” “she,” and many others. Pointing to words as you read will also show your child basic grammar rules, such as using a capital at the beginning of a sentence and ending it with a punctuation mark.

Look at the illustrations.

Most children’s books come with beautifull illustrations. The job of the illustrator is to accentuate the story and supplement it with additional details that the author may not include. The images may even help the reader to guess what is going to happen next. Before you turn the page, look at the illustrations together and point out details that may not have been included in the written story.

Ask questions.

Start off by looking at the cover of the book and ask your child what she thinks the story will be about. As you read, ask her questions about the characters, how she thinks they must feel, and what she thinks is going to happen next. By asking questions, you make your child an active reader and not just an observer. You’ll also be boosting her reading comprehensions skills.

Happy reading!

Video of the Week: Carmen Lomas Garza


*This post contains affiliates links.

This week’s DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is FAMILIA, and one of the books recommended in this camp is Carmen Lomas Garza’s Family Pictures/Cuadros de mi familia (aff). So we’d like to share with you this video that we love of Carmen discussing her artwork, her books, and how she ended up writing & illustrating for children.


Literacy Craft Tutorial: Bookmaking

DIY Family Keepsake Book Craft

This week, the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is FAMILIA. The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Denise Cortes who publishes the site,

Bookmaking: Make your own family keepsake book

My kids are really sentimental when it comes to family photos. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to sit down and thumb through their baby books and photo albums. We all laugh at the memories and at the end of it all, I’m usually in tears. Why must childhood be so fleeting?

I wanted to teach my daughters how to make make a DIY family keepsake book so they could collect photos, small notes and drawings and keep the tradition of documenting our family going strong. This craft project is inexpensive and fun for everyone!

What you’ll need to make your own:

  • brown paper bags
  • scissors
  • decorative edge scissors
  • glue stick
  • patterned & solid color scrapbooking paper
  • black marker
  • jute twine or yarn

What I love most about this project is we’re basically going to repurpose an inexpensive brown paper bag. It’s as simple as folding a bag or two in half, sandwiching them together, poking a few holes on one side and threading a piece of twine or ribbon to bind them together. After trimming one side with a pair of decorative edge scissors, you will have a “book” with pockets, similar to an accordion.


If you want to make the “book” thicker, use more than one paper bag. I used two, which allowed me to have four pockets to slide photos and keepsakes in.


To bind the paper bags together, make three holes along the edge that is opposite to the opening side.


Now you are ready to decorate your book. Find a few patterned sheets of scrapbooking squares. Cut them down to size so they can fit properly.


Glue down each piece of scrapbooking paper onto the “pages” of your book. Add a smaller piece of solid color paper and glue it on top of the scrapbooking paper, toward the bottom. This space is for any captions you’d like to write, such as: My family, mama, papa, brother, sister, abuelita etc. Remember, you are celebrating family!


The final step is to thread the book with a piece of jute twine, to bind all of the pages together. Be sure to tie a tight knot.


Now you can fill up your keepsake book with pictures, notes, photobooth pictures etc.





denise-cortesDenise Cortes is a writer/blogger and an artist when she isn’t tending to her family and teaching art. Denise is the content creator at, a blog about a Latina mom raising six kids and living a creative life. A native of Southern California, Denise has been blogging since 2006, when her husband suggested she continue her life-long practice of journal writing about life and family. Since then, she’s been sharing fun DIY craft projects, Latino culture, creating art on TOMS shoes and writing heartfelt parenting stories about her children, ages 8 to 16. Denise is also a regular contributor at BabyCenter and You can also follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Weekend Literacy Links: Storytelling Cards to



Happy Friday, Familia! We hope your week has been busy with books. If you are looking for some weekend reads, we’ve put together a few of our favorite links from this past week. Enjoy!



Video of the Week: Pelé, The King of Soccer/ El rey del fútbol

Video of the Week - Sports

Video of the Week - Sports


This week’s video not only matches our DIY Summer Reading Camp theme, but it also celebrates the beginning of one of the most popular sports championships – the Fifa World Cup! Will your family be watching? Don’t forget to have your children read more about Pelé in this week’s DIY camp packet, and encourage them to think about who their favorite athlete is so they can write about him or her this week for their newspaper activity!