The 9 Books by Hispanic Authors to Win 2016 ALA Awards

The 2016 Hispanic ALA Award Winners

What an incredible week! Yesterday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, something amazing happened. Eight Hispanic authors or illustrators won or were recognized by no less than seven different awards, most of whom have not traditionally recognized the works of Hispanic authors or illustrators. It was an emotional moment celebrated by Latino authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, librarians, literary/diversity activists, and readers everywhere.

The most jaw-dropping moment occurred when Matt de la Peña received the John Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in the realm of children’s literature. His beautifully written book “Last Stop on Market Street” isn’t about the Latino experience, but rather about the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild, and how growing up poor gives us a unique opportunity to perceive the beauty in our surroundings. It is certainly worthy of the Newbery Medal.

In addition, well-known author Pam Muñoz Ryan was also recognized by the Newbery Medal committee. Her latest book “Echo” was named a Newbery Honor Book. Until yesterday, Margarita Engle’s verse novel “The Surrender Tree” was the only Newbery Honor-winning book by a Latino author. And NO Hispanic authors had ever received the coveted Newbery Medal.

Several other authors and illustrators were recognized by other awards (see image above), including the beloved Pura Belpré Award.

If you’d like to check out these wonderful books and read others by these talented authors and illustrators, you can purchase them below using our Amazon affiliate links.

Last Stop on Market Street
Newbery Medal Winner &
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
Last Stop on Market Street
written by Matt de la Peña
illustrated by Christian Robinson

Echo
Newbery Honor Book &
Odyssey Honor Recording
Echo
written by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Funny Bones
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award &
Belpré Illustrator Honor Book
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Out of Darkness
Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award
Out of Darkness
by Ashley Hope Pérez

Undocumented
Alex Award
Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Enchanted Air
Belpré Author Award &

YASLA finalist
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
written by Margarita Engle

Drum Dream Girl
Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Drum Dream Girl
illustrated by Rafael López
written by Margarita Engle

My Tata’s Remedies
Belpré Illustrator Honor Book
My Tata’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata
illustrated by Antonio Castro L.
written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford

Mango, Abuela, and Me
Belpré Author & Illustrator Honor Book
Mango, Abuela, and Me
written by Meg Medina
illustrated by Angela Dominguez

The Smoking Mirror
Belpré Illustrator Honor Book
The Smoking Mirror
written by David Bowles

Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2015

Remarkable Latino Children's Literature 2015

Each year, we receive dozens of books to be considered in the L4LL Reading Programs. Most of them are beautifully written and/or illustrated works that depict the diversity of the Latino experience. A few years ago, in response to the lack of Latino children’s literature representation in national reading lists, we began sharing our own list of some of the incredible titles that are published each year by talented Latino authors and illustrators. We had hoped to encourage these national lists to begin including books by Latinos. Some, such as the New York Times, have included Latino illustrators, such as Raúl Colón and Duncan Tonatiuh, in their annual Best Illustrated Children’s Books list, but have yet to include any Latino authors in their annual Notable Children’s Books list. We hope that this year will be different.

As we head into the holidays and the end of the year, we want to share our annual Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature selection of exemplary books written by Latinos. You can download and print a copy of our list here.  We know that there are other fantastic stories that have been published this year. As always, we’d love to hear from you. What titles would you add to our list? Share them in the comments below.

As always, BRAVO to the amazing authors and illustrators who work so hard to give a voice to our culture and traditions.

The following list contains affiliate links. 

Drum Dream Girl
Drum Dream Girl
By Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López. (HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99)
A beautifully written and visually vibrant book based on the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, the Chinese-African-Cuban, who at the age of 10, dared to break Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers.

Salsa
Salsa: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem
By Jorge Argueta. Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Groundwood Books, $18.95)
A visual and auditory celebration, this book follows a brother and sister as they follow a recipe to make an outstanding salsa.  

Little Chanclas
Little Chanclas
By José Lozano. (Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95)
A sweet, bilingual tale about Lilly Lujan who goes 
everywhere in her little chanclas- baptisms, barbeques, picnics, quinceañeras, and more. Until one day, her chanclas are gone. What will she do?

Mango, Abuela, and Me
Mango, Abuela, and Me
By Meg Medina. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. (Candlewick, $15.99)
When Abuela comes to stay, Mia doesn’t understand what she is saying… and Abuela doesn’t understand her either! But with the help of a parrot named Mango, the two find a way to learn and speak each other’s language.

Funny Bones
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
Written & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Harry N. Abrams, $18.95)
Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.

Mayas Blanket
Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya
Written by Monica Brown. Illustrated by David Diaz. (Children’s Book Press, $17.95)
In this Latino spin on a traditional Yiddish folk song, a handmade blanket transforms as little Maya grows up.

Vamonos Lets Go
¡Vámonos! Let’s Go
By René Colato Laínez. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Holiday House, $16.95)
“The Wheels on the Bus” takes on a new, bilingual identity as children sing in both English and Spanish about the exciting noises made by all sorts of vehicles.

10 Tips to Nurture a Biliterate and Bilingual Child

10 Tips to Nurture a Biliterate and Bilingual ChildThe following is part of our series on Raising Biliterate Children by guest contributor, Dr. Carlos Ulloa. In this article, he’s partnered with Laine Gen to present these helpful tips for parents.

Below are some tips to consider as you help instill in your child a lifelong love of reading, writing, listening and speaking in two languages. 

  1. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL

If you want to develop a bilingual and biliterate child, you must be a strong and consistent example in the home. When you embrace the gift of speaking, listening, reading and writing in two languages, you model a family value that can be passed on for generations. Accept it, you are your child’s first teacher! Do not relinquish this important responsibility to anyone.  But don’t feel like you have to speak perfectly. All language learners make mistakes, and getting corrected is one way we learn. You are modeling effort, not perfection. 

  1. CALL HOME

If you can’t make trips to visit abuelita and abuelito, call them on the phone or Skype with them weekly.  Nothing is sadder to a Spanish-speaking grandparent or relative than when children cannot communicate with family because of language barriers. Start with basic greetings. Plan out a few phrases and teach them to your children each time you call. Ask your family not to switch to English at the slightest misunderstanding (if they speak English). Again, emphasize and encourage effort on the part of your children and how their attempts to communicate are a gift and sign of respect to their elders. 

  1. MAKE THE TIME TO READ   

Make time to read with your child every day. There is nothing like escaping into a great story together! Find your child’s inner passion and then look for books, magazines, and websites related to his or her favorite topic. One child I knew was a reluctant reader in Spanish (his second language) until his mother found a Minecraft handbook in Spanish. Suddenly, he couldn’t wait to read each day.

While reading together, consciously ask questions aloud about the author, story setting, characters or plot. Ask your child to predict what will happen next and then see if the predictions are correct. This is what great readers do in their heads, and you can model it for your child. Put yourself into the book and honor your child’s responses.

There are a growing number of bilingual books written in English and Spanish. Your local library and your child’s school library can help you find Pura Belpré Award-winning books. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Established in 1996, the award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. For a list of current award and honor books, check out the Pura Belpré home page at http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpremedal. 

  1. MAKE TIME TO WRITE

A simple and fun pre-writing activity is to talk about new and familiar words you see when you are walking, driving, or riding the bus. When encountering new words, be curious about them. Model using a dictionary and help your child figure out meanings by breaking the word into smaller parts.

Writing is a process. Start small: Craft your grocery shopping list with your child and alternate languages each week. Older, second-language learners love to label all the furniture in the house. Write down a favorite family recipe together. Label captions on the back of your family photos (who, what and where) or create a photo album together online or through social media. Card making is also a wonderful and purposeful form of reading and writing, and don’t forget thank you notes to family members or classmates who give birthday or holiday gifts. Expand from letter writing to recording family stories together. 

  1.  COOK WITH YOUR CHILD

Cooking together requires searching for a recipe (using alphabetization skills), reading it together, reviewing the vocabulary as you find the ingredients and once again as you combine them. This is hands-on language learning at its finest. You can even write a review of the dish after you eat! 

  1. TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN TO BOOKS AND MUSIC

When you are at home or in the car, listen to songs in both languages. Check out CDs by José Luis Orozco, Suni Paz, or Juan Sánchez from your library or use online resources like Pandora’s Música infantil station. Talk about the lyrics. What is the singer trying to say? Audiobooks in English and Spanish are also a wonderful way to improve your child’s listening comprehension in the car. 

  1. HOST A WEEKLY GAME NIGHT

First, eat dinner together as a family. This can be a homemade meal or take-out, but sit together at the table and talk about the vocabulary of the food you are eating. Turn off the television and all devices. Talk about the day’s events.  Share a rose/rosa and a thorn/espina. The rose/rosa  is a wonderful moment in the day and a thorn/espina is an event in the day that needs some helpful advice from the family. Then, after dinner, play a game together. Look for games like Candy Land, Uno, or Battleship that have simple vocabulary based on numbers and colors, which can be played easily in different languages. Select games your child enjoys playing. 

  1.  EMBRACE (BUT LIMIT) TECHNOLOGY

Use technology to enhance learning only after kids have had time to do chores, play outdoors, and exercise their imaginations. Ditch the cable. Movies can be checked out from the library and watched on the weekend. Set the captions to a different language while you watch. If your child wants some computer time, there are great eBook resources like Bookflix, a Scholastic website requiring a subscription but available for free for patrons of California libraries. Bookflix allows you to access fiction and nonfiction books paired on a topic. Some pairs are available in both English and Spanish. All of these stories are animated, narrated by native speakers, and feature words that change color as they are read aloud (like in karaoke). Also, reluctant readers are sometimes much more motivated to read if they can do it on a tablet rather than a traditional book. But make sure all electronics are off at least an hour before bedtime so you can relax together with a bedtime story from a real book or your imagination. 

  1. “FRIEND” YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY, SCHOOL LIBRARY, INDEPENDENTLY-OWNED BOOKSTORE

Librarians are an underutilized resource. They live to help you find unusual items. Most libraries have inter-library loan programs, where you can borrow materials from other sources and they are sent right to your local branch for you to pick up. If the library doesn’t have what you are looking for, put in a purchase request. Ask your branch manager to consider allocating more resources to books, videos, CDs, and story time in Spanish or other languages. And finally, when you purchase books, check your local independent bookstore to see if they can order for you. Some indie bookstores will give you a discount if you register your book club, so create one and start saving! 

  1. INVEST IN A QUALITY DUAL IMMERSION SCHOOL COMMUNITY

Language learning happens most effectively when you are in a community, surrounded by people who speak that language. In fact, children need exposure to another language for about a third of their waking hours in order to acquire it naturally. More and more school districts are creating free public charter schools that offer your child the chance to become part of a bilingual community from a very young age. New programs require a lot of time investment on the part of parents to create enrichment opportunities, but your efforts will pay off in the long run as you give your child the life-long gift of being able to read, write, speak and listen in two languages.

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Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father. Dr. Ulloa has 25 years of experience as an elementary teacher, director of curriculum and instruction, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher, parent involvement specialist and dual immersion principal. He currently serves as a commissioner on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory board to the California State Board of Education. Ulloa earned his B.A. at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters in Education from Harvard University and doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ulloa can be contacted at CarlosUlloaJr@gmail.com or connect with him on Twitter: @DrCarlosUlloaJr.

Laine Gen grew up in a monolingual household but became trilingual as an adult by living and teaching in France and Mexico.  She holds a B.A. in French and a masters in teaching English to speakers of other languages.  She married a Chinese American and has picked up some Cantonese along the way from her in-laws.  Her two children attend Loma Vista Immersion Academy in Petaluma, California and are growing up bilingual in English and Spanish.  She can be reached at lgen@petk12.org.

A Guide to Translanguaging in Latino/a Literature for Educators PreK-12

Guide to Latino Literature

We’re so pleased to share with you this valuable free resource for both parents and educators. Created by Vanessa Pérez Rosario, Ph.D., a professor of Latino Studies with a focus on literature and education. Click here to download Translanguaging in Latino/a Literature: A Guide for Educators.

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Translanguaging in Latino/a Literature: A Guide for Educators
by Vanessa Pérez

In an interview, writer Esmeralda Santiago reflects on her choice to become a writer. She remembers looking for books that she could identify as a young woman who had migrated from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn as a teenager and recalls, “there were no books about Puerto Rican girls in Brooklyn. I think that I was driven to be a writer because I didn’t exist in the literature, and therefore didn’t exist in the culture. I simply wasn’t there.”

While today there are many wonderful works of literature that reflect the Latino/a experience and are appropriate for very young children through high school, these books often don’t make it into our curricula or our classrooms. This Latino/a Literature Guide offers teachers culturally sustaining literature suggestions, deepens our understanding of bilingualism and the language practices of Latino/a bilinguals, which is enriching and empowering for the bilingual reader. The Guide was created in the context of the City University of New York – New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (CUNY NYSIEB) and is aligned with our core principals, to develop a multilingual ecology in schools and to see bilingualism as a resource.

This Guide offers analysis of language use in 32 works of Latino/a literature that are appropriate for Grades PreK-12, analyzing seventeen books for Grades PreK-6 and fifteen books for Grades 7-12. The analysis of each book includes lexile level, themes, author biography and website, a list of supplemental resources, a summary of the book, and an analysis of the way the author uses translanguaging, the flexible use of linguistic resources in literature. Analyzing the way that authors translanguage, or flexibly use Spanish and English in their texts, helps us to explore our bilingualism and bicultural identities leading to a deeper understanding of bilingualism. The Guide encourages literacy development through the use of culturally relevant texts and it deepens our understanding of bilingualism and the language practices of Latino/as.

How might teachers use this Guide in the classroom? Some of our schools have already started using the Guide and this is how they are doing it. Schools are purchasing the books included here for independent reading classroom libraries. Some schools are replacing the books recommended by purchased curricula for the books recommended here because they are more culturally sustaining and relevant to the children’s lives. In the Guide, non-fiction reading is introduced along with the literary texts in the form of the author’s biographies. In the additional resources section for each book you can often find links to author interviews and literary analysis of the text, helping teachers meet the non-fiction reading requirements. The books included here can serve as models for assignments where students are asked to include words from their home language in their own poetry or narrative writing. Finally, one elementary school has decided to use the book América is her name by Luis Rodríguez (included in the Guide) to introduce students to the poetry unit. In the story, América, a young Mixteca girl migrates to Chicago and she is having a hard time fitting in. When her teacher Mr. Aponte encourages her to write and recite poetry in English and in Spanish or whatever language she feels most comfortable with, she is able to make sense of the world around her and find a sense of home through poetry.

I invite you to download your free copy here.

Pat Mora for the 2015 L4LL Día Blog Hop

2015_dia_blog_hop_cover

It is with greatest joy that for our third year in a row, L4LL launches our annual Día Blog Hop! We’ve changed things up a bit this year and will be featuring three Latino authors or illustrators each day between now and Día, Thursday, April 30th. For a look at the complete blog hop schedule, click here.

To kick things off, we once again welcome award-winning author and poet, Pat Mora, as our blog hop’s first contributor. As Día’s founder, it is only fitting that she launch this event…

Pat-Mora-books

Immersion
by Pat Mora

Yea! April: la primavera, and El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day, and National Poetry Month, and School Library Month! We’re enjoying a month of immersion (inmersión) in celebrating children, words, books and reading. These are some of my favorite topics.

Sometimes we associate the word immersion with sliding into cool water on a hot day. We can also associate the word with language immersion. People can choose to surround themselves with a language they want to learn by going to a foreign country, Guatemala to learn Spanish, for example.

I’m also thinking about the children and families who move to our country and find themselves immersed, surrounded by English. I’ve written poems for adults and teens about this experience. May those of us fortunate to be bilingual in Spanish and English immerse ourselves in encouraging children to savor the power and pleasure of being bilingual. ¡Adelante juntas!

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Pat-Mora-authorPat Mora, born in El Paso, Texas, is an award-winning poet and author of books for adults, teens, and children. Her awards include a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Golden Kite Award, American Library Association Notable Book Awards, and honorary doctorates. A former teacher and university administrator, she is the founder of the family literacy initiative El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day (Día). The year-long commitment to linking all children to books, languages and cultures, and of sharing what Pat calls “bookjoy,” culminates in celebrations across the country in April. Pat lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The 2015 L4LL Día Blog Hop

2015_dia_blog_hop_banner_2

Welcome to our third annual L4LL Día Blog Hop! We celebrate the literacy-focused event El día de los niños, el día de los libros (also known as Día) by spotlighting 12 U.S. Hispanic authors and illustrators on leading Latina blogs. This is important because it’s an opportunity to introduce our literary talent, including Día creator author Pat Mora, to the new and large audiences of top blogueras who cover a range of topics including education, politics, lifestyle, and culture.

The L4LL 2015 Día Blog Hop kicks off this coming Monday, April 27th and runs through Día on Thursday, April 30th. Each day, three Latina blogs feature a different Latino author/illustrator as these artists explore this year’s theme of immersion and its impact on their work and life.

Below is the schedule of the participating blogs which I’ll be updating each day with a direct link as each post goes live. We hope that you will follow along and share with your families and friends!

Monday, April 27th

Pat Mora on Latinas 4 Latino Lit

Monica Brown on The Wise Latina Club

Margarita Engle on MommyMaestra

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Tuesday, April 28th

Alma Flor Ada on My Big, Fat, Cuban Family

René Colato-Laínez on Modern Mami

Meg Medina on Atypical Familia

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Wednesday, April 29th

Angela Dominguez on My Friend Betty Says

F. Isabel Campoy on Family is Familia

Mariana Llanos on Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

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Thursday, April 30th

James Luna on Latinaish

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato on Viva Fifty

René Saldaña, Jr. on Mama Latina Tips

The 2015 Tomás Rivera Awards

The 2015 Tomás Rivera Award Winners

This post uses affiliate links.

The 2015 Tomás Rivera Award winners have been announced! Established in 1995, the award honors authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican America experience. Past winners include distinguished authors such as Gary Soto, Carmen Lomas Garza, Francisco Jiménez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Rudolfo Anaya, to name a few.

This year’s winners are:

For Older Readers

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Gabi A Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero

For Younger Readers

Separate Is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh

The 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners

2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners

This post uses affiliate links.

Congratulations to the 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners! The winners were announced this morning and we’ve listed them below. We’re excited to discover a couple of new titles and to see several of our own picks from last year’s Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature list.

Pura Belpré Author Award
Honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

I Lived on Butterfly Hill
written by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White

 

Pura Belpré Author Honor Book

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón

 

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Honors a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Viva Frida

Viva Frida
Written & illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Books

Little Roja Riding Hood

Little Roja Riding Hood
illustrated by Susan Guevara
written by Susan Middleton Elya

Green Is A Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper
illustrated by John Parra
written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Separate Is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh

Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014

Remarkable-Latino-Childrens-Lit-2014This post contains affiliate links.

Since the close of our 2014 Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program, we’ve been very busy behind the scenes expanding it to be used year round and working on big changes to next summer’s program. In between all of this, we spend a lot of time exploring both new and old titles.

As we head into the holidays and the end of the year, we want to share our annual Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature selection of exemplary books written by or about Latinos. We sincerely hope that we’ll be seeing some Latino children’s literature titles like these in the New York Times’ annual list of Notable Children’s Books, NPR’s Best Books of 2014, and other national lists.

You can download and print a copy of our list here.  We know that there are other fantastic stories that have been published this year. As always, we’d love to hear from you. What titles would you add to our list? Share them in the comments below.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera. Illustrated by Raúl Colón. (Dial, $19.99) A stunning collection of short biographical essays on 20 Hispanics who have contributed to our nation’s – and world’s – history.

Dalias Wondrous Hair

Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacámara. (Piñata Books, $17.95) Children will be swept away into this vibrant tale about a young girl’s magical hair! Rich with Cuban culture, this book includes a section in the back listing native Cuban plants and animals.

Abuelo

Abuelo by Arthur Dorros. Illustrated by Raúl Colón. (HarperCollins, $17.99) A touching, bilingual tale about the special bond between a child and his grandfather in this follow up book to Dorros’ Abuela.

Green is a Chile Pepper

Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by John Parra. (Chronicle Books, $16.99) This lively rhyming picture book introduces children to the world of colors through images frequently associated with Latino culture.

Separate is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Harry N. Abrams, $18.95) Teach your child about the role Sylvia Mendez and her family played in school equality in California nearly 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education.

How Chile Came to New Mexico

How Chile Came to New Mexico written by Rudolfo Anaya. Illustrated by Otero Nicolas. (Rio Grande Books, $24.95) A beautifully written story that highlights New Mexico’s rich multicultural history.

Dale, Dale, Dale
Dale, Dale, Dale: A Fiesta of Numbers written by René Saldaña. Illustrated by Carolyn Dee Flores (Piñata Books, $17.95) A bilingual counting book about a child who imagines all the fun he’s going to have as he prepares for his birthday party.

Literacy Craft Tutorial: Poetry-Inspired Felt Craft

Poem-Inspired Felt Craft

The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Denise Cortes who publishes the site, Pearmama.com.

As a homeschooling mother, I’ve had the privilege of teaching six children how to read. Phonics, flash cards, picture books, audio tracks, reading apps–you name it, we used it. Teaching my kids to read wasn’t always an easy task. There were moments when I grew weary, and wondered when they would finally “get the code.” Some of my children learned quickly and were on their way to reading chapter books at a young age. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a two children who didn’t learn to read until they were well past the “acceptable” reading age.

Instead of worrying and putting unnecessary stress on my challenged readers, I got creative. One of the ways I encouraged confidence in their reading skills was through poetry and enrichment projects. For us, this meant simple craft projects. My daughter memorized several poems. And along the way, we created fun enrichment activities tailored to each poem, such as this felt craft pictured above. It was inspired by the following poem – one of our favorites.

“The Caterpillar” by Christina Rosetti

Brown and furry
caterpillar in a hurry
take your walk
to the shady leaf or stalk.
May no toad spy you,
may the little birds pass by you.
Spin and die,
to live again a butterfly.

Let’s get crafting!

 

What you’ll need to make this fun craft:

  • felt squares (several colors)
  • 9×12 felt square for background
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • needle and thread

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

I decided to stick with more natural colors, since the caterpillar is “brown and furry.” Reserve one of the 9 x 12 felt squares as the background for the caterpillar. Begin cutting the felt into the caterpillar shapes, reserving 20 pieces for the caterpillar body, one piece for the head, two eyes, two for the inner eyes, one round nose, two antennae, four legs, a leaf, leaf spine and stem for a total of 35 felt pieces. Of course, if you want to make your caterpillar smaller, make adjustments accordingly.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

After the shapes are cut, lay them out and decide on the overall design.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

We decided we wanted the caterpillar on a “shady leaf.”

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

Use a hot glue gun to glue the felt pieces down. Be sure to help your child when using the glue gun. As a safer alternative, use fabric glue. For a fun accent, let your child use needle and thread around their caterpillar design.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

This poem-inspired craft is a great way to enrich your child’s reading experience through hands-on learning.

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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 Pearmama.com, 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 Latinamom.me. You can also follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.