Free Spanish eBook for Families

Volando con Quique

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 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


L4LL on Despierta América

univision L4LL logos


We hope you’ll join us tomorrow morning as Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) makes its debut on morning television on Univision’s highly-rated national show Despierta América at 8 am EST (check your local listings). 

L4LL co-founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. will share tips to make reading fun for kids and parents. She also discusses the importance of reading to children, from the very beginning, to develop the crucial literacy skills needed to achieve in school, as well as the 2014 L4LL Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. This appearance is the first in a series that is part of Pequeños y valiosos (Young and Valuable)–an education campaign between Univision and The Clinton Foundation.

La importancia de la lectura en los niños


If you missed it, you can watch the segment here

Raising a Child Who Reads with Her Hands

Raising a Child Who Reads with Her Hands:

How Our Daughter Achieved Literacy Despite a Dual-Sensory Impairment

By Graciela Tiscareño-Sato

As the nation recalls the events of September 11th, 2001, I reflect on something entirely different. Twelve years ago this month, I watched the horror unfold while pregnant in a hospital bed trying to keep a baby barely at 24 weeks gestation, alive and inside me. Ten days later, a full 100 days before her New Year’s Eve due date, my daughter Milagro entered the world as a 25 ½ week preemie, weighing in at one pound and two ounces.

I’m the mother of a literate little girl who is blind, with a hearing impairment and an avid reader of Braille books. Her birth story and 137-day hospitalization is detailed here. My June blog post about her first experience as a public speaker (5th grade advancement) is here. In between those two days on the timeline are many stories, tears and laughs; here I’ll focus on how we helped her achieve literacy at home and at school.

Future View and Surrounding Myself

First, my husband and I looked for examples of hope for her future. I detailed what I did before her first birthday here. While she enjoyed infancy, we began to study the Braille code. We played a weird version of Scrabble together with a set of handmade wooden tiles from Mr. Arnold Dunn in St. Petersburg, Florida, each block with a Braille letter to memorize. Notice I used the word “code,” because to be literate in the language of Braille as a sighted person, you only need to learn which combination of six dots represents which letter, number, contraction, symbol (and later musical notes and values). There’s no need for my husband and me to read Braille with our fingertips; that’s a skill we left for Milagro to master.

Next, I met the mother of a college student who was blind. Elizabeth Phillips, who was shaken, blinded and nearly killed as an infant, was preparing to enter Stanford University. Her mother Mary Beth Phillips showed up in that Berkeley café one morning with an armful of baby board books from Seedlings. She said, “Get on their mailing list today, because you’re going to start reading to your daughter tonight with these books, just as you’d be doing if she wasn’t blind.” Read Elizabeth’s remarkable story here in People Magazine.

What I want parents of children with disabilities and special needs to take away is this: as soon as possible, put your personal grief on the shelf, go out for coffee with a parent who has walked the path you’ve been forced to take, and put your energy into your child’s literacy, education, and future. The sooner you do it, the better for your child. Sadly, I’ve met way too many teens who are blind and who still don’t have a cane because, in the words of one poor 17 year-old man, “My parents didn’t let me have a cane because then it would be really obvious to them and the world that I can’t see.” I’ve heard the same about parents not wanting their child to learn Braille. We on the other hand, couldn’t wait to each learn our third language and to prepare to be our daughter’s first Braille teachers.

Thirdly, I decided to educate myself through the writing of others and to always be surrounded by books for my daughter. The National Federation of the Blind publishes a magazine for parents and teachers called Future Reflections. It’s a must-have free resource I highly recommend to connect with like-minded, forward-thinking parents and educators. “Six Things you Can Do at home for your Blind Baby,” is one of my favorite articles that I’ve contributed to share activities and resources we relied on to prepare our daughter for preschool. An additional depository of Braille books, digital Braille books, and alternate formats for kids who are auditory learners (i.e. dyslexic but not receiving services in a stubborn school district) is Bookshare. They have over 200,000 books in accessible formats for children with print disabilities and sign-up for students in K-12 is free.


The true and legal responsibility, per federal and state laws, of teaching a child who is blind how to read, write, and meet educational standards, lies with the Local Education Agency, the school district. But without informed parental advocacy based on knowledge of your child’s federal and state educational rights, it’s not likely to happen. Here’s what I mean in an advocacy article published in Future Reflections magazine. It details (and names resources) how we became effective, forceful parent advocates to ensure our daughter would learn to read, write, and become as independent as possible considering her dual-sensory impairment. This article should be read by all parents raising children with physical or learning disabilities, preferably before the child is three, but ASAP.

Technology to write and read in Braille

The school district must provide adaptive technologies for your child when there are goals in the written Individual Education Plan (IEP) that require them as support. No goal? No technology. The technology that my daughter has used through the years I will simply list because that’s another set of articles I could write. There are YouTube videos you can watch if you’re curious: Mountbatten Brailler, the BrailleNote (her current favorite tool with refreshable Braille display that she’ll use into adulthood), a slate and stylus (the equivalent of pencil and paper) and her “Long Braille Cell” for learning new words as we travel around.

Braille is Beautiful

Those who know me have heard me say “Braille is Beautiful.” I’ve forgotten where I first heard that. Watching my daughter delight in reading a book or the latest issue of Spider magazine is like magic: bumpy dots pass under her trained, sensitive fingertips, her memory quickly accesses and processes what words, numbers, punctuation marks they represent. She reads aloud to me with voice inflections, emotion, and laughter – beautiful magic.

I want you to meet my daughter Milagro through video, because it’s unlikely that you’ve ever met a blind child (it’s an extremely low incidence disability), much less a child who is blind and literate. Here you go, mijita Milagro:

I trust you see the confident, happy, literate young lady she has become. In early September, she started middle school at the California School for the Blind, a terrific college-like campus just 23 minutes from our home. Her teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), a highly specialized educator who has trained in teaching Braille, happens to also be a lifeguard. My daughter is now swimming twice a week for PE, causing her two younger siblings to say, “No fair, I wish I was blind.” Sigh…

Even though my daughter is now a commuter student at the age of 11, taking a cab with two other students in the area to their campus in the next city, I’m ready for this new phase. I also know she’s ready, because every day this summer she kept saying, “I’m so excited for the California School for the Blind.”

I’m excited to see how much more she will learn in the years ahead. My husband and I take credit for the decision we made years ago to insist that her federally-guaranteed educational rights be enforced. We ensured that every educator on her huge IEP team had the highest expectations of her and that those who didn’t were removed. It’s been an extraordinarily challenging twelve years, but Milagro’s love of reading and her voracious appetite for writing on her BrailleNote, is truly the most gratifying reward.


Graciela is a military veteran and Chief Creative Officer of San Francisco area publishing and multicultural marketing firm Gracefully Global Group LLC that she founded in 2010. She’s a publisher and public speaker by day, mother of three always and blogger and business owner by night. In her pre-motherhood life, Graciela graduated from U.C. Berkeley and traveled the world as an aircraft navigator onboard the U.S. Air Force KC-135 refueling tankers. Her military aviation career is the basis of her first bilingual children’s book (in a planned series) titled Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá. Read her full bio here.

A Video Book Report of El periquillo sarniento

Claudia choose El periquillo sarniento by author José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizarde. In her video book report, this rising high school senior explains the plot, characters, and that she was drawn to the book by the theme and value of morale that Fernandez de Lizarde presents in his book. Claudia’s reading comprehension, vocabulary, ability to form an argument, and public speaking are some of the literacy skills on display in her L4LL video book report.

Do we love her obvious biliteracy skills? Yes!

Hey, college-bound students: This is what you can use to augment your college applications and impress them with your portfolio!

A Video Book Report of Return to Sender

We’re so pleased to share today’s video book report that was submitted by Jared, a ninth grader in Pennsylvania. He’s chosen a moving book by author Julia Álvarez on the controversial topic of immigration. We love his presentation of the plot and characters, as well as his explanation for why he recommends the book.

Well done, Jared!

Today’s the Deadline to Submit Your Book Report Videos!

Don’t forget that today is the last day to submit your book report videos for the YA Challenge! Submitting is easy and families will be entered to win a Chromebook or Nexus 7 tablet, so just grab your camera and start filming. You can download the YA Challenge rules here.

Winners will be contacted tomorrow and the prizes will be mailed this week.

Check out this other entry below from 6th grader, Denali, who chose Dancing Home as the subject of her book review. ¡Bien hecho, Denali!

A Video Book Report on Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

There’s only 5 days left to submit your video book reports for a chance to win a Chromebook or Nexus 7 tablet! The deadline is August 12th. And we just love all the videos that have already come in! In fact, we’re sharing another one with you today to maybe provide some inspiration for your own children.

Below is 4th grader Kotomi Marisol’s awesome review of Monica Brown’s Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina. We love it when our multicultural kids can identify with the characters they read about!

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?”


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

A Video Book Report on Dancing Home

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

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

¡Aplausos, por favor!