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.

Free Spanish eBook for Families

Volando con QuiqueThe following is a guest post by Carla Curiel, owner of Lanugo. Her company has been a strong supporter of L4LL and Latino children’s literacy, and now continues to support with a free eBook for Latino families.

Since this is my very first time writing a guest post for Latinas for Latino Lit, I want to introduce myself first, not so much because you need to know my name, but because you will most likely connect with my story. I am a mom of two healthy and happy little Latina girls. A mom who also realized during pregnancy that my life had evidently changed when I noticed that I had started worrying about issues that were not even happening yet.

My twins were just tiny babies in the womb, still full of Lanugo, when I found myself concerned about how I was going to pass on to them our Latino values and traditions being so far from ‘home.’ How would I help them develop a positive emotional connection to their Hispanic heritage? Yes, in my mind and in my heart, I felt that as their mom, it was my duty to make sure that those two pretty Americans girls could also experience the joy and the gift of being proud Latinas.

Little did I know at the time, that I would search and search for attractive and engaging tools that would support me on my ‘mission’ to develop in them that strong and proud sense of identity – of belonging – that I feared they would lack, perhaps feeling ‘not enough Latinas’ nor enough ‘Americans.’ Being a true Mamá Pata, when I realized the lack of culturally relevant Latino products available for preschool children, I was depressed, surprised and empowered, at the same time.

As Latinos, we were either getting flat translations from English to Spanish, or we were being represented under numerous stereotypes – usually involving a pair of maracas, piñatas and a sombrero… And although those are fun props, we are more than that, and I wanted my daughters to know that. So, I committed myself to create the tools I needed to build the world that I wanted for them. The passion I felt within me, mi corazonada, was just too strong to fight, and honestly, I didn’t want to.

Ironically, I quickly found myself devoted to a new mission as a means to fulfill my initial objective. Today, I have an unequivocal responsibility to bring my girls a world of pride, a world of good, a Latino-inspired world of joy that will help them have a proud and strong identity, and that is Lanugo.

Lanugo was truly founded for the betterment of our children. It is to restore values and traditions. It is a warm and welcoming world that celebrates our culture by highlighting the positiveness and the sazón, of being Latino. It is a world of good, of respect, of admiring the little things in life, of celebration, of music, of art, all for our children and their innocence.

With that said, it is also a world that believes in the power of literature, and books will always be a preferred medium for us to share our Lanugo world with our children. Therefore, Maria Alejandra Fondeur, a Latina Mamá Pata and a Harvard graduate in early childhood education, and myself developed a book series concept focused on promoting particular aspects of the Hispanic culture through our fun loving characters.

Our first Lanugo eBook “Volando con Quique” was devised with the goal of introducing children to Latino-influenced music with its unique repetition and rhyme through the adventurous spirited storytelling by father and son, Don Juan and Quique. I particularly love this book because it proves that el ritmo se lleva en la sangre sin importar por donde andes.

To encourage all the Mamá Patas whom I have personally vouched to support in their mission of raising proud Lanuguitos, we are offering free unlimited downloads of our “Volando con Quique” book through our website  www.BebeLanugo.com. We are also super excited that next month, we will be distributing the eBook through both iBooks and Amazon.

From one Mamá Pata to another parent, we truly hope that we can help you make a positive difference in your Lanuguito’s life.

de corazón,

Carla Curiel

 

Book Review: An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

by Magdalena Zenaida

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero has all the qualities of an excellent picture book with the basic literary and historical components to teach a whole lesson plan unit! The gorgeous illustrations by Gaston Hauviller and a sprinkle of Spanish phrases written by José Martí himself, guides young readers to understand his life from Cuba to New York City as a teacher, poet, and fighter for education equality for all.

My six year old and I used a map to locate all the countries where José Martí lived, we practiced reading Spanish aloud, and discussed a little of Cuba’s history. We also watched a Celia Cruz video to listen to Guantanamera, a very famous song that José Martí’s Versos Sencillos inspired. I caught myself singing the phrases as they are beautifully and perfectly weaved into the story!

Note: The book is not a literal translation, but rather one that conveys the meaning of the poem.

The book is probably best suited for ages 8 and up but, my son and I took the opportunity to use clues in the sentences to decipher challenging vocabulary. I also had to stop briefly to discuss phrases such as “freedom of speech” and “exile.” Nevertheless, as a believer of using picture books to teach some of life’s toughest lessons inside and out of the classroom, books like Zenaida’s do just that with a bonus of teaching children about prominent and notable Latino authors like José Martí.

Disclosure: A digital copy of this book was provided for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers “find the positive and seek the benefits” over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Photo credits: mikifoto by mallika malhotra

Make the Time to Read


The following is the second article in a five-part series on Raising Biliterate Children by guest contributor, Dr. Carlos Ulloa.

The ritual of a bedtime story in English or Spanish is a beautiful opportunity to bond and unwind with your child. Reading is more than building your child’s vocabulary and comprehension in two languages; reading helps your child define his or her relationship with the world. When you find your son or daughter’s just-right book, the nighttime read or reread will become your own oasis for those few moments before you both retire and recharge for the evening.

One of my kindergarten parents has been reading to his daughter since she was in her mother’s womb. There isn’t a night that goes by when he doesn’t read to his daughter. What he shared really stuck with me. “Look at where you spend your time and your money. This will give you a clear indication of what you value.”

I also love to share the example of my three-year-old nephew who thought books were the coolest Frisbees. He comes from a family of readers but unlike his older siblings, he would not have anything to do with books. In listening to his words, I discovered that if I said the word truck, I had his complete attention. I found the just-right truck books for him at our local independently-owned bookstore. His idea of a good read turned out to be a board book with multiple visuals of every kind of truck imaginable and one-word captions describing each truck. He lugged those books everywhere, even to bed! He asked everyone to read to him his three new books, over and over again. Yes, his truck books were his entry into the meaningful and relevant world of reading!

My son, on the other hand, preferred listening to audio books while commuting. A perfect opportunity to use our down time to engage in a book. My son allowed his imagination to come up with the visuals while he listened to the story in the car. His idea of a great book meant a world of fantasy where he could look out the window or close his eyes and see all of the pictures in his head.

While reading with your child, consciously ask questions aloud of the author, story setting, characters, and/or plot. This is what great readers do in their heads and you can model this for your child. Put yourself into the book and honor your child’s responses. Your child’s taste in books will evolve over time.

The key is to respect the books your child loves. When you do this, you will be able to build a bridge and introduce to your child the books you love. Your child will come to respect your opinion when it comes to books because you have built this trust and respect around books.

As parents, we must learn to create a balance in the home with television time, computer time, and unstructured time during the day. My biggest sigh comes when I see multiple screens in a traveling vehicle or every member of a family on their own personal tablet or device. Whatever happened to reading a great book, singing, engaging in a conversation, or gazing out the windows while traveling?

There are a growing number of books written in English and Spanish. Your local library, your child’s school library, or your local independently-owned bookstore are the best places to start.

To nurture your biliterate child, start by checking out Pura Belpré Award winning books. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, 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. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. For a list of current award and honor books, check out the Pura Belpré home page.

In making your reading time relevant, look for books that honor and nurture your child’s interests. Just be aware that your son or daughter’s choices in books will evolve as he or she gets older. Regardless of age, great books are a powerful mirror and window to the world. Your example as a reader and your enthusiasm and passion for reading can be one of the greatest gifts you pass on to your child. Your time is one of your greatest resources. Value your time with your child, reading the just-right book. Sooner than later, your son or daughter will be out of the nest and you will wonder, “Where did all the time go?”

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Dr. Ulloa y su Tía Chepa

Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father. He is currently the principal of a dual immersion school in Petaluma, California. Dr. Ulloa has over 22 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist. 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 bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree 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.

Margarita’s Poetry Picks

FAVORITOS

by *Margarita Engle

Here are just a few
of my favorite poetry books
old and new,
to add to our summer
EXCITEMENT,
because la poesía
has always been such a grand part
of our wide-winged culture’s
powerful heart.

So fly into the world
of a book!
¡Vuela!

Happy summer!
¡Feliz verano!

A FEW LATINO POETRY FAVORITOS FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN:

Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, Isabel. 2011. Ten Little Puppies; Diez Perritos. New York: Rayo/ Harper Collins.

Alarcón, Francisco. 1998. From The Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/Del Ombligo de la Luna y Otros Poemas de Verano. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

Argueta, Jorge Tetl. 2010. Arroz con leche; Rice Pudding. Toronto: Groundwood.

Delacre, Lulu. 2004. Arrorró Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. New York: Scholastic.

González, Lucía. 1994. The Bossy Gallito. New York: Scholastic.

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 2001. Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas. San Franscisco: Children’s Book Press.

Mora, Pat. 2007. Yum! Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! America’s Sproutings. New York: Lee & Low.

Tafolla, Carmen. 2008. What Can You Do With A Rebozo? ¿Qué Puedes Hacer Con Un Rebozo? Berkeley: Tricycle Press.

A FEW LATINO POETRY FAVORITOS FOR OLDER CHILDREN:

Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. 2009. Diego; Bigger Than Life. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

Cofer, Judith Ortiz. 2004. Call Me María; A Novel in Letters, Poems, and Prose. New York: Orchard.

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 1998. Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish. New York: Harper Collins

McCall, Guadalupe García. 2011. Under the Mesquite. New York: Lee & Low.

Soto, Gary. 1992. Neighborhood Odes. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

These are just a few examples—for a more complete selection of multicultural poetry, ask your librarian, or visit: www.poetryforchildren.blogspot.com

Vardell, Sylvia. 2012. The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists. Princeton, NJ: Pomelo Books.
The Poetry Friday anthology series, published by Pomelo Press.

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*Brief bio
Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many books for young people, including the Newbery Honor-winning verse novel, The Surrender Tree, Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom. Her most recent books are: The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist (Harcourt; ages 10 and up), Mountain Dog (Holt; ages 8 and up), and When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story (Holt, ages 2 and up).

Tips for Teaching a Child with Down Syndrome to Read

The following is a guest post by Eliana Tardio, publisher of ElianaTardio.com and mother of two children with Down syndrome.

Years ago, it was hard to believe that children with Down syndrome would be able to read. Thankfully, times have changed. Now, it’s great for me to share from my personal experience that my son who is 9 years old is already reading and my daughter who’s 6 has received an “Emerging Reader” award this year.
Both of my kids have Down syndrome and if you ask them, I guess they would say that growing up is an awesome experience, including learning to read. There are 3 principles that guide my path as I teach my kids anything new, but especially when teaching my children with Down syndrome how to read:

1. Respecting their unique timing

Something that I have always empowered my kids with is a celebration of their own abilities. I’ve taught them to be proud of their achievements without comparison. Respecting their own timing and letting them learn at their own pace tells them that we appreciate their effort and that life is not measured by results but for our desire to always do our best.

2. Teaching them to enjoy the path of learning

Learning should never be forced or achieved under pressure. Learning is a joy, and that’s a gift that we should be able to share with our kids; teaching them to enjoy the path of learning and feeling able to open their world to the letters and words that will eventually come.

3. Learning that life is not a competition

Another great lesson that comes when raising a child with special needs of any type is that life is not a competition. Learning is not about collecting A’s at school or trying to demonstrate that your child is better than anyone else’s. This is all about providing your child with the tools he may need for developing the most of his abilities, no matter how limited they may seem, and not comparing with others.

Eliana T daughter

How to teach them to read:
As with any other child, your child with special needs starts learning as a baby. You can follow these steps to familiarize him or her with literature.

  • Read to your child in utero.
  • Choose a favorite book and read it for him over and over again.
  • Give him special time to listen to you read while he’s sitting in your lap and following the pictures.
  • Promote his interest by using cardboard books that he can manipulate.
  • Go for simple-looking books in the beginning. Black and white books are sometimes less overwhelming, allowing your child to focus his attention more easily.
  • Single words books are great for association and for learning by repetition. Simple is sometimes better.
  • Provide her with subjects that are interesting for her. The same as any other child, yours will get excited and motivated for the characters and plot lines they enjoy most.

Something important to keep in mind when you raise a child with Down syndrome or speech delays of any kind, is that the speech errors they make may create insecurity in them. They may be shy to share what they know or be able to express much less than they understand. Be patient, reward them often, and celebrate every bit of progress.

My son reads stories for my daughter at bedtime, but used to be very shy about demonstrating his abilities at school. Nobody believed me when I said he knew how to read until I taped him and sent a copy to his teacher. The teacher set up a very special moment for him and played the video for the whole classroom! Ever since then, he’s been unafraid to use his voice in front of others. His language is still developing but feeling that people celebrate his efforts has empowered him to keep reading while showing off all that he’s able to do.

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Eliana Tardío, is the mother of Emir & Ayelén, both with Down syndrome. Eliana works as a Family Resource and Marketing Specialist for the Early Intervention program of Southwest Florida. She writes for several online publications about her experience as the Latina mom of two kids with special needs, providing what she calls “the most important advice for anyone: Hope in love.” Named as one of the Top 100 Moms Bloggers by Babble.com, and one of the 7 Most Inspirational Latina Moms by Café Mom, Eliana’s advocacy work has garnered her many awards, not only in the USA, but around the world. http://www.elianatardio.com

Raising a Biliterate Child: Set a Good Example

photo courtesy L. C. Ladish

The following is a guest post by Dr. Carlos Ulloa.

Model, Model, Model

What do I mean by model? You are your child’s first teacher and what you say and do will highly influence your child’s bilingual and biliterate self image. Your example and how you approach the world will help carry your child through his or her life. What you do will be imitated. What you say will be repeated, shared, minced and eventually outlast you.

Nurture your child’s two languages and vocabulary by embracing your cultural roots and passing on your favorite dichos y refranes. Those oral proverbs, phrases and saying you have heard your parents, abuelo, abuela, tíos and tías use while growing up are rich with not only wisdom, they cross generations and cultures. Those words carry meaning and will stimulate your child’s thinking and oral language development in two languages.

Children love to learn new words when they are used in the context of a lively conversation. Dichos y refranes also make for an engaging conversation during those transition times during the day; such as commuting, grocery shopping, cooking or getting ready for bed. Talk to your child about the message in your favorite dichos y refranes. Ask him or her what the message in the phrase is trying to convey. Together you can come up with examples to reference the dicho or refran to give the phrase life or find a comparative phrase or saying in your child’s second language. Each time you introduce new words in Spanish or English, you are building knowledge, stimulating connections in the brain and reaffirming how words can get you thinking and wondering in two languages.

Begin writing down those favorite dichos y refranes that personally influence what you most value. Record your thoughts, your child’s thoughts, your parent’s thoughts, your abuelito and abuelita’s thoughts on those favorite dichos y refranes. If you want to get extra creative, begin creating, sculpting or collecting photos to pair with your recorded dichos y refranes.

Although most dichos y refranes can be literally translated, your child will learn that sometimes words get lost in translation or the words just don’t flow so poetically in the other language. Sometimes when translated into English or Spanish you will need less or more words to express your meaning. Your child will learn to appreciate the beauty of two languages through dichos y refranes.

What words do you want your child to own and live by? You may be inclined to go to the web and look up what other people have to say about dichos y refranes. You can go there but if you listen to your own words and reflect on the wisdom passed on to you, those dichos y refranes will come to you. Think about the words you really want to pass on to your own child and you may just hear your mother, father, abuelita or abuelito’s voice in your mind.

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Dr. Ulloa y su Tía Chepa

Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father. He is currently the principal of a dual immersion school in Petaluma, California. Dr. Ulloa has over 22 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist. 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 bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree 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

5 Tips to Nurture a Biliterate Child

The following is a guest post by Dr. Carlos Ulloa.

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

1. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL

Model fluency by speaking, listening, reading and writing to your child daily. If you want to develop a bilingual and biliterate child, you must be a strong and consistent example. When you embrace the gift of speaking, listening, reading and writing in two languages, you are passing on 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.

2. MAKE THE TIME TO READ

Make time to read with your child every day. There is nothing like escaping into a great book with your child. Reading should not be a chore. Discover familiar and new books you would like to read with or to your child. Find your child’s inner passion and find all books and websites related to his or her favorite topic.

While reading, consciously ask questions aloud of the author, story setting, characters or plot. 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 books written in English and Spanish. Your local library and your child’s school library are the best places to start. Start by checking out Pura Belpré Award winning books. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, 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. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. For a list of current award and honor books, check out the Pura Belpré home page.

3. MAKE TIME TO WRITE

A simple and fun prewriting activity is to consciously talk about new and familiar words when you are walking, driving or cooking. When encountering new words, be curious about them, help your child define the new word by breaking the word apart to find smaller words within the word.

Writing is a process. Consider writing a letter to a family member in Spanish or writing down a favorite family recipe. Card making is also a wonderful and purposeful form of reading and writing.

Expand from letter writing to recording family anecdotes, saying and writing captions to include who, what and where on the back of your family photos.

4. TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN

When you are at home or in the car, listen to songs in both languages. Talk about the lyrics. What is the singer trying to say? Audio books in English and Spanish are also a wonderful way to bridge into your child’s listening comprehension.

5. CALL HOME

It is never too late to give your child the gift of biliteracy. Language and culture cannot be separated and if you can’t make trips to visit abuelita and abuelito, call them on the phone.

Nothing is sadder to a Spanish-speaking grandparent or relative than when a child cannot communicate with a family member because they do not speak or understand the same language. When you value biliteracy, you are giving your child a life-long gift and a sincere purpose to read, write, speak and listen in two languages.

Over the summer Dr. Carlos Ulloa will expand upon each of the five tips he outlines in this article.

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Dr. Ulloa grew up speaking Spanish with his mother and English with his father. He is currently the principal of a dual immersion school in Petaluma, California. Dr. Ulloa has over 22 years of experience as a director of curriculum and instruction, elementary teacher, Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher and parent involvement specialist. 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 bachelors at San Diego State University in Liberal Studies with a Spanish Bilingual Emphasis, masters degree 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

How to Build a Latino Library on Pinterest that Rocks!

Go ahead, quote me on this: Pinterest can actually make you smarter.

Not only can the image-based social sharing site let you discover DIY tips and the ultimate arroz rojo recipe but Pinterest can help us become virtual librarians as well.

But keep reading—this won’t be your mama’s library.

Book Boards

The core of Pinterest is boards which function as virtual scrapbooks. Pinterest account holders can create boards around themes and either reuse images—known as pins—that someone else has uploaded, or upload new pins from their own images or from sites such as amazon.com.

There aren’t yet many boards or pinners devoted to Latino literature. Which means there’s a big gap that your virtual library can fill! Check these out for inspiration:

La Casa Azul Bookstore: This East Harlem bookstore has a variety of boards devoted to reading Latino literature and meeting the authors. Photos of books are usually accompanied by a blue papel picado streamer embossed with the name of the store. Love it! Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/lacasaazulbooks/

The Somers Library: The public library of Somers, NY, has a wide selection of thematic boards, including one devoted to The Pura Belpré Award which is awarded annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience for children and youth. Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/somerslibrary/pura-belpre-award/

Carmen Amato (okay, me): This international mystery author has The Latino Library and The Mexico Library boards which jointly contain more than 100 book pins, each of which link back to amazon.com descriptions and purchasing information. Other boards illustrate her own mystery novels with celebrity dreamcasts, playlists and related images. Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/carmenconnects/

Ready, Set, Pin

The magic of creating a library on Pinterest is that you can combine book images and information in amazing ways that real libraries rarely do. You can make all types of book boards and add surprising things to them.

Step 1

Once you have your Pinterest account set up, decide on a theme and create a new board with a short, snappy title. You board can be about an individual book or many books in a specific genre. For example:

  • Latino Lit from the 1970’s
  • fiction books based on history
  • Cuban-American authors
  • Book club reads

Or your board can just be about books you recommend. Or want to read. Or just love the cover!

Once you have your theme, add images:

  • Find the book page on amazon.com and use the site’s PinIt button to pin the book image and description
  • Do a search on Pinterest, using keywords such as the book title to find book-related images
  • Use Google search to find more images of the book. This is handy if the book has had several different covers but amazon only shows the latest. If any site doesn’t have a PinIt button, add one to your browser by searching for the PinIt button on the Pinterest site, then use it to pin to your board.

Repeat Step 1 until you have as many boards as you want!

Step 2

Give that board some book bling!

  • Who would play the lead characters if the book became a movie? Pin some celeb photos and say which character he/she would be and why.
  • Where was the book located? Add some pictures of where the action takes place.
  • What did the characters eat? Add some recipes.
  • Was there a playlist in the background of this book in your imagination? Add a couple of music videos. YouTube makes it easy with a PinIt button on every video.
  • If the books are non-fiction, find related pictures by searching both the Pinterest site as well as using Google. Maybe there is a history website with good pictures you can use.
  • What goes with books? Images of reading nooks, bookmarks, author photos? Use your imagination!

Remember to acknowledge the primary source of whatever image you pin. If you use a PinIt button, the source link will stay attached to the pin when it is on your board. If you upload an original image from your own computer, you can add a link manually.

Share!

As Pulitzer Prize-winning authorJunot Diaz tweeted during this week’s #L4LL Twitter party, “The only way to support reading is to push books on youth. All of us have to be librarians and literary curators.”

A Pinterest library can do just that by combining books with familiar pop culture elements like music videos and getting those boards visible on social media networks.
So once your boards rock, invite friends to take a look. Tweet your boards and link to them on Facebook.

Also, post a link in the comments thread below to share and help build this community!

Gracias!

This is the third of my three guest posts for Latinas4LatinoLiterature and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Thanks to Monica and the gang at Latinas4LatinoLit.org for this opportunity.

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Carmen 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. For more check out:
http://carmenamato.net
http://facebook.com/authorcarmenamato
http://pinterest.com/carmenconnects/

Support Latino Authors! How to Write a Book Review That Matters

Interested in reading? Interested in supporting authors who write what you read? Do it today with a book review!

Reviews can make a book hugely popular. Lack of reviews can consign a book to oblivion.

The publishing industry has changed in recent years. Readers like you now have the unprecedented power to share opinions about books through reviews on amazon.com, the biggest book retailer in the US, and on goodreads.com.

Related post: How to Find Latino Reads on Goodread.com

Book reviews are hugely important to lesser-known authors and those who write for niche audiences. Many Latino authors and those who write Latino-themed content fall into both categories. If we want these books to continue to be published, reviews are needed to:

  • help others find the books
  • demonstrate that there is a vibrant community for this type of book
  • offer up honest opinions and get a dialogue going

Amazon requires a review to be at least 20 words long, plus include a 1-5 star rating. But most of us are readers, not writers. Writing a review seems hard.

The secret to a good reviewis 5 simple sentences! Use this formula and soon you’ll be writing reviews that help friends discover new books and support authors in your community.

The personal touch

Start your review with a personal comment such as why you chose this book or the feeling it left you with. Was it for a class, a book club, or because a friend recommended it, etc.

Fiction example: I picked up The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine M. López because it has an eye-catching cover. The story inside was just as mesmerizing.

Nonfiction example: I enjoy reading memoirs and found Take Me With You by Carlos Frías to be one of the best contemporary memoirs I have read lately.

Plot

What was the book about? Try to capture this in 1 or 2 sentences. If it was clearly a genre like mystery or a romance, say so. If it was literary fiction you can refer to it as a “story” or “tale.” If it has a twist ending don’t give it away! For a non-fiction book state the basic premise and some idea of the context.

Fiction example: The story traces the lives of four sisters, who each seem endowed with a magical ability or “gift.” But it’s not fairy tale magic and it shapes their lives in unexpected ways.

Nonfiction example: A Miami-based journalist, Frías recounts his own 2006 trip to Cuba to cover the political scene, which allowed him to trace his father’s life there before the revolution.

Style

How was the writing? Was it mostly dialogue that crackled with the characters’ personalities? Was there a lot of action? Did it bore you with long paragraphs or keep you turning the pages with a sharp, staccato pace?

Fiction example: The story swings between the lives of the sisters, and the official account of government research into the Puebla tribe. At first I didn’t understand the connection but after a few chapters realized that the research was the background story of Fermina, the girls’ caretaker after the death of their mother. Fermina is the one who gives the girls their “gifts.”

Nonfiction example: Frías writes simply and smoothly and his descriptions put the reader right into today’s Cuba, with its decayed buildings, poverty, and lack of so many things we consider normal. Although the book moves around between the author’s family in Miami, his father’s life in pre-revolution Cuba, and the author’s own experiences in today’s Cuba, the reader never gets confused.

Characters

Who are the main characters? What stood out about them? Did they experience change during the book? If there was tension, how did they deal with it? Did you have a favorite character?

Fiction example: The sisters are all named after Hollywood stars from the 40’s and 50’s, which made it easy to keep track of their different gifts and what they did with them. My favorite character was Bette David Gabaldón, who believes her “gift” is the ability to persuade people to do what she wants.

Nonfiction example: Frías is able to show us real people and how their lives were damaged by Cuba’s revolution, including his father as well as family members who stayed behind.

Recommendation

Who do you think would enjoy this book? If it is a book for a certain age group, note it here.

Fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone who likes Latino literature, stories with a bit of magic in them, as well as those who like fiction that draws on history.

Non-fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone interested in Cuba or for those who like to read memoirs.

Rating

Both amazon.com and goodreads.com use a 5 star rating. Here’s how I interpret the stars:

  • Likely to recommend: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Memorable: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth the time: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Feeling vaguely dissatisfied: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Want my money back: 1 out of 5 stars

I rate both The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters and Take Me With You as 5 Star reads! To support authors, I usually only post book reviews with a 4 or a 5 rating. The exception is if I’ve been specifically requested to review a book and honesty demands a lower rating.

To find books you might want to read and review, check out my virtual Latino Library on Pinterest.

What book did you last read? Show your power as a reader and give it 5 sentences! Maybe 5 stars, too!

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Carmen 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. She currently divides her time between the United States and Central America, using travel time to work on her next novel. Join her on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/authorcarmenamato, visit her amazon author page at http:www.amazon.com/author/carmenamato, and check out her blog at http://carmenamato.net. She can also be found on Twitter @CarmenConnects.