How to Read to Young Children

How to Read to Young Children

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

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

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

Sit together in a comfortable spot.

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

Read with emotion.

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

Point to the words.

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

Look at the illustrations.

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

Ask questions.

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

Happy reading!

L4LL’s 2014 Summer Reading Incentives

SRP Giveaway module

We are so excited to announce this year’s summer reading program incentives! As you may remember from last year, we firmly believe that children should be rewarded for their hard work and incentives, when used sparingly, can help to motivate students – especially reluctant readers. Don’t forget that last summer we shared with you How to Use Incentives to Get your Child to Read, if you are looking for some helpful tips.

We have a great collection of educational products that we’ll be giving away at the end of the program to families with parents or children who read 8 books over the course of the summer. Our fantastic giveaways are available to all our program participants – both freemium and preemium members. See a complete list of our incentives below.

Important Reminders:

  • Registration CLOSES on July 14th.
  • Submission forms for up to 4 children per family are available in your Account pages. Just log in to access them.

** INTERNATIONAL FAMILIES: Children in the older age groups are not eligible to win the school supplies or Chromebooks. However, if you are one of the first 50 families to complete the program, then you will be eligible to receive a $50 Google Play gift card.


4 and Under

Parents who read 8 books to their children under 4 years old this summer will be entered to win a $50 Google Play gift card to help parents find and purchase additional eBooks on Google Play to read to their children.


In addition, three families will be entered to win a 1-year subscription to Zoobean‘s Book-of-the-Month Club, which sends a carefully selected book to your home once a month, and includes an accompanying digital lesson plan delivered to your email. This service helps parents nurture their children’s literacy skills with books and activities geared to your child’s interests. Zoobean is a  personalized subscription service that serves families with children ages 0 – 8 years old.


4 to 8 Years

School supplies

Once again, we’re looking forward to helping parents with the expenses associated with back-to-school time at the end of the summer. This year, the first 60 families who complete the summer reading program and whose children read and submit the titles of 8 books over the course of the summer will automatically receive a backpack full of free school supplies!


9 to 18 Years (Young Adult Challenge)


One of the goals of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program is to take advantage of technology and use it to boost literacy skills among our youth. Our Young Adult Challenge does exactly that as it combines technology with Latino literature.

We understand that kids ages 9 to 18 need access to technology for academic achievement and to help parents cover the cost of a laptop on which their children can do research, write reports, graph data, and much, much more, we’re giving away Chromebooks!

The families of participants in this age range who submit a list of the 8 books they’ve read over the summer, as well as a video book report about a piece of Latino (children’s) lit that they’ve read, will be entered to win a Chromebook donated by our sponsor, Google, and $50 Google Play gift cards to help you purchase educational applications for your Chromebook.  The video book report will be archived in the L4LL YouTube channel. This book may be one of the 8 books they’ve read for the program, and may or may not be found on our reading list for young adults. Up to 20 winners will be chosen at random from the entries.

For a complete description of the YA Challenge Rules, click on the link below.

YA Challenge Resources


Video of the Week: Latino Folk Tales, Cuentos Populares – Art by Latino Artists

Video of the Week Folklore

If you are participating in this year’s L4LL Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program as a Premium member, then you are probably half way through the first themed week in our DIY Summer Reading Camp. The theme this week is Folklore. To supplement the activity pages, we’ve found this marvelous video for your family to watch. You’ll find lots of beautiful images by Latino illustrators in this educational video that discusses the Latino Folk Tales, Cuentos Populares – Art by Latino Artists Exhibition that took place at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum last year. The exhibition displayed 65 framed original artworks from 12 well-known artists: Leovigildo Martinez, Maya Christina Gonzalez, Lulu Delacre, Lucia and Gloria Perez, Felipe Dávalos-González, Beatriz Vidal, Honorio Robledo, Esau Andrade Valencia, Amy Córdova, Susan Guevara, and Raul Colón.


(If you haven’t signed up for the Premium subscription, you can still purchase this week’s Folklore printable separately. Try it out and see if your child loves it as much as mine do.)

Pat Mora Kicks Off Día Blog Hop

Pat Mora for the Día Blog Hop

We are so proud to bring to you the 2nd Día Blog Hop! You can find the full schedule of authors/illustrators and blogs here. Here to kick off this year’s blog hop is Día founder, writer and poet Pat Mora…

A Día Blog Hop! Such a clever idea, and today we begin the Second Annual Hop. Many times we have creative ideas, but in our busy world, we lose interest and what could have been a fun and effective tradition to share becomes a one-time-only event, so congratulations, felicitaciones, to our persistent Blog planners! Let’s enjoy the fun.

Before 1996 when the idea for Día zapped me on the head, April meant spring and my youngest’s birthday—on April 30th actually. You can learn about Día’s history, our Día Dynamos and Partners, and download our Planning Booklet on the Día section of my website. When I learned that Día was celebrated in Mexico on April 30th, I told my daughter, Cissy, that on the 30th, all over the country, we were celebrating children, sharing bookjoy—and celebrating her birthday too ;)

Día Planning Booklet

Because so many Día celebrations are held across the country, and because I believe in community control, we say that Día is celebrated on or near April 30th. In the back of Book Fiesta I give suggestions as I do on my site and stress that April celebrations can be held at home, schools, libraries, community organizations, parks, universities, etc. Día began as a one-day celebration and became 1. A year-long commitment to creative literacy promotion for all children and 2. Annual April celebrations of Children and of Sharing Bookjoy with children and families.

Día is an opportunity to create a national tradition. Join us! As we the celebrate Mothers in May and Fathers in June, together, let’s create the tradition of celebrating children and books, niños y libros, in April. LET’S DO THIS! Create or support an April celebration in your community. I still want to see a YouTube video of a creative Día flash mob. There’s a Día song and you can create your own music. Día is fun, and yet it’s important work since literacy is essential in a democracy.


Pat lives in Santa Fe but was born and spent much of her life in El Paso, Texas. She is an award-winning poet and author of books for adults, teens, and children. 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). Pat is married to an anthropology professor and is the mother of three adult children and a sweet granddaughter. Pat is very excited that she now has a co-author, her daughter Libby Martinez. This April their first two books are being published, I Pledge Allegiance and Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo! English and Spanish editions.

7 Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Latino children's lit to celebrate Women's History Month

As March draws to a close, we just wanted to quickly highlight seven awesome Latino children’s literature titles about influential women. Most of them are Latinas, and one of them Swedish, but all of them left their mark on their Latino communities. As always, parents, please read these books first to make sure they are appropriate for your children.

Here’s to all the amazing women around the world who have not been afraid to stand up, speak their mind, and make a difference.

The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez by Monica Brown. Rayo, 2010.

The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucía González. Lee & Low Books, 2012.

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers. Puffin, 2007.

Frida ¡Viva La Vida! Long Live Life! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Two Lions, 2007.

My Name is Gabriela by Monica Brown. Cooper Square Publishing, 2005.

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle. Henry Holt & Co. 2010.

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: L4LL Read for the Holidays: Two Writers on Why Latino Authors Should Top New York Times Lists

by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

The New York Times publishes several “best of” lists, including the Book Reviews’ Notable Children’s Books of 2013. Not a single Latino author, illustrator, or character made this year’s cut. Is it the first time this has happened? No. In the last ten years, only one book from this body of literature has been selected by the editor and committee. Is it that Hispanic authors are not publishing? They are, as my co-founder Monica Olivera argues in her Op-ed in NBC Latino. Small, independent publishers have been publishing children’s books by Hispanic authors and illustrators since at least the 1980s. Add to this that today, self-publishing is exploding. Judge for yourself by reading our Remarkable Children’s Literature of 2013

Maybe Hispanic kids lit authors and illustrators aren’t up to snuff? As to the judgement that this literature isn’t good enough which undergirds repeated exclusions, the work of Dr. Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez earned them an invitation to the 2013 National Book Festival.

The Library of Congress can’t be wrong. Rather what is wrong are exclusive, clubby gatekeepers whose far reaching dicta have real consequences: publishers aren’t motivated to pursue new authors and audiences. Same goes for bookstores, schools, and libraries across the country that only stock titles based on these big lists and those requested by the public (also influenced by these lists).

Click below to watch the video of our Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) Google+ Hangout on Air with children’s book authors Graciela Tiscareno-Sato and author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh on the exclusion of Hispanic authors and illustrators from The New York Times Book Reviews’ Notable Children’s Books of 2013 and their different publishing journeys.

With my L4LL co-founder Monica, our discussion focused on:

  • Why these “lists” count
  • How the mainstream can better access this talent and reach and engagement Hispanic readers to more accurately represent American literature and society
  • Today, despite the economic recession, more ways exist to publish and access books
  • Why 52 million Latinos must translate their demographic power into economic power by “showing up” in support of our authors by placing orders and buying books

This is part of our L4LL Read for the Holidays month-long event where we are highlighting books explaining our holiday traditions, Latino authors and illustrators, and a giveaway of tablet computers and Google Play gift cards.

A Read for the Holidays Giveaway

Things have changed so much in the realm of literature with the emergence of technology. Today apps and eReaders have spread like wildfire and can be found in thousands of homes across the country. From tablets to computers and other devices, a new way of experiencing literature has blossomed.

Keeping this in mind, we have chosen to help you explore this area with today’s Read for the Holidays Giveaway.

Three (3!) L4LL readers will win a Nexus 7 tablet and a Google Play gift card worth $100! We want you to have access to those amazing stories now available in a digital format.

In addition, four (4!) L4LL readers will win a Chromebook because we believe our stories matter. Your story matters. And we want to help you get started with writing it.

Or perhaps you know a voracious reader or a gifted writer who would delight in one of these gifts. Let us help you with your holiday gift giving.

To enter the giveaway, simply use the Rafflecopter below.

Felices fiestas from L4LL!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Arizona State University Wins 2013 Mora Award

You know that we are strong supporters of Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros. Last year, we created the first Día Blog Hop featuring 20 Latino authors or illustrators on the blogs of 20 Latina bloggers. L4LL believes in the work that Latino authors, illustrators, independent publishers, librarians and like-minded organizations are doing to promote literacy within the Latino community.

So we are happy to share with you this year’s winner of the 2013 Estela and Raúl Mora Award for the most exemplary culminating celebration of El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day.

For the first time, an educational institution has received the award and the $1,000 prize. Arizona State University’s celebration began with sounds of trumpets vibrating, guitars strumming and folkloric dancers moving to renditions of traditional mariachi favorites. Throughout the festivities, 500 students sixth through twelfth grade accompanied by their teachers had the opportunity to participate in reading and writing themed workshops hosted by local authors Tom Leveen, Angela Morrison, Aprilynne Pike, Janette Rallison, and Bill Konigsberg. Adding to the festivities were authors Alberto Rios, Myrlin Hepworth and Gary Soto who provided students motivating and empowering words. Students received free books, were able to meet and greet the authors and had the opportunity to have their books signed. Notably, the English Education Department planned and implemented this interactive celebration.

The Estela and Raúl Mora Award was established by author and poet Pat Mora and her siblings in honor of their parents and to promote El día de los niños, El día de los libros/ Children’s Day, Book Day, also known as Día. Culminating celebrations of this year-long initiative that links all children to books, languages, and cultures are traditionally held on or near April 30. The Mora award is presented annually, in partnership with REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.

Joliet Public Library, Salt Lake County Library Services, and Waukegan Public Library each received the Mora Honor Award for their outstanding celebrations.

Bravo, Arizona State University and to all the other organizations across the country who celebrate Día!

2013 #Latism Best Education Blog

Photo by @MyFriendBetty

By: Viviana Hurtado Ph.D.

Familia, we humbly announce that our fledgling Latinas for Latino Lit won 2013’s Latinos In Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) Best Education blog for the work we are doing launching the first online, nationwide Latino children’s summer reading program. My partner Monica Olivera and I accepted this award at the fifth annual LATISM conference and awards ceremony in New York City. We share this recognition with the nearly 700 families, almost 1,500 kids who participated from 38 states, Puerto Rico, 8 other countries, and a military base in Germany.

Vision, passion, and conviction can spark change. But resources sustain it. L4LL is forever grateful to our naming sponsor Google, and our partners Plaza Familia, LATISM,, Boden PR, Delta Dental, Bebé Lanugo, PBS Kids, Monarca Language, Pa’lante Latino, MommyMaestra, and The Wise Latina Club. When we shared our idea and asked you to step up, you dove right in!

As if the award didn’t make our hearts sing, our panel “Promoting Literacy Within The Latino Community” was jam-packed with parents, teachers, business and nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and librarians. Moderated by lioness of a mother Lisa Quinones-Fontanez of Autism Wonderland, Aurora Anaya Cerda, founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore bringing accessibility and knowledge to the heart of Spanish Harlem’s barrio, and online education pioneer Harlyn Pacheco, CEO and co-founder of Qlovi, our discussion focused on creative ways to engage and reach Latino students and families. We asked how can we use technology to acquire a solid education and unlock the ensuing and endless social and economic possibilities. We gave shout outs to organizations bringing books, authors, and learning where Latinos are, whether it is the laundry mat, the local market, or YouTube because research shows Hispanics want their kids to achieve in school but don’t know how. The traditional, mainstream publishing industry may be in trouble. Yet the desire for books, knowledge, and opportunities for authors are endless with the opportunities technology affords.

Education is the great equalizer, even more so for immigrants. Our country’s strength will be measured by the success of these kids. Encouraged by this recognition, grateful for your support, we commit to staying the course as we attempt to strengthen families, communities, and our country through access to improving literacy rates and educational achievement.

We normally sign off with ¡A leer! Let’s read!

Today we add a simple and sincere thank you! ~Viviana and Monica

#L4LL Is On Pinterest

Did you know that you can find Latinas for Latino Lit on Pinterest? From Latino children’s poetry titles to famous quotes to reading activities and DIY incentives, we’ve collected some great ideas over there, so stop by and follow us! Share your own pins and great thoughts on Latino literacy and literature.

And if you haven’t thought about using Pinterest to keep track of and share your Latino reads, don’t forget to check out our popular post, How to Build a Latino Library on Pinterest that Rocks!