January 28, 2013

My Family/Mi Familia Series: Thoughts about Bilingual Books

I was encouraged to write this four-book series of easy-read bilingual books by a friend in Texas who is not bilingual but who generously and creatively fosters literacy by putting bilingual books in the hands of children who need them.

In this series, readers meet the Rosas family: Isabel, Tina, Danny, Mom, Dad, and Abuelita. They meet the familiy's dog, Tico, and the family's new kitty too. The books depict children's daily activities: a family meal, chasing a kitten, bedtime, and a boy's mischief.

"How do you honestly feel about bilingual books?" I asked a group of teachers. A woman raised her hand and answered, "They intimidate me." I remain grateful for that teacher's candor. Others chimed in saying that they shared her reluctance to use such books. "I'm the teacher," one said. "I'm supposed to be the expert. I wish I knew Spanish, but I can't read half the book." The group then discussed how our monolingual-Spanish students also can feel embarrassed and wish they spoke and could read and write English.

Indeed, in our linguistically-rich country, it isn't only Spanish-speaking children and families who have those longings.

The attendees shared the following ideas:

Since we believe that books are powerful and shape attitudes, we can affirm our Latino and Spanish-speaking students by incorporating bilingual books into our school and library collections and by using the books for read-alouds and activities.

Since we teach by example, when we leave our linguistic comfort zone and risk beginning to explore and maybe even learn another language, we teach our students, whether monolingual or bilingual, to do likewise.

Instead of avoiding bilingual books, we can partner with bilingual parents, older students or colleagues and illustrate the wonder and fun of languages through collaboration. We can also listen to and use audio books.

Our students, all our diverse students, need brave teachers.

How sad I feel when I hear educators state that their ideal students are white, European-American children. All student's need their teacher's attention and faith. Celebrate and creatively educate all of America's diverse and beautiful children. Remember my Texas friend who spreads bookjoy and puts bilingual books in the hands of children who need them? Join her.

January 22, 2013

Want to Start a Día Family Book Club?

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is now accepting applications for mini-grants intended to prepare libraries to incorporate Día into their existing programs throughout the entire year.  Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Día Family Book Club Program in libraries.  Up to 12 mini-grants will be awarded at $5,000 each.

Intended as an expansion of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), the mini-grants will be awarded to libraries that demonstrate a need to better address the diverse backgrounds within their communities.

The mini-grants are part of the Everyone Reads @ your library grant awarded to ALSC from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.  In addition to these mini-grants, funding from this grant will also allow ALSC to create a Día Family Book Club Toolkit that will be accessible to all.

The deadline for receipt of applications is February 1st, 2013.

See Pat's website for more information about Día.

January 21, 2013

Go on Record: Día Program Registration

Día, El día de los niños,El día de los libros/Children’s Day,Book Day, is a daily commitment: day by day, día por día. Hundreds of annual Día events occur across the country in April. In the spirit of Día, these book fiestas are literacy celebrations that unite communities. Often reading advocates including parents and families collaborate in planning how best to share bookjoy. Join us by insuring that Día is celebrated at your libraries and schools and make sure to promote their local event(s) by registering your program in the 2013 National Día Program Registry. I'm so grateful to ALSC (Association of Library Service to Children)  and REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) for collaborating with me in expanding Día's impact. In 2013, let's share bookjoy and help grow a nation of readers.

January 8, 2013

Our Common Wealth: America's Many Languages

Last fall, I had the good fortune to spend time at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana and at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. As always, I learn when I interact with audiences. Some of my favorite visits are like these two opportunities to speak to children, families and educators.
One of my hosts was Dr. Luis Fernando Restrepo, author of the following article. His final sentence is so meaningful.

Pat at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Pat at Springdale Public Library in Fayettville, AR