First, our bilingual favorites. When Wild Thing discovers a book or character he already loves in a bilingual version, he gets really excited. Me too. Several of our favorite library books this week are books such as this: Freight Train/Tren de Carga by Donald Crews, which compliments well with Miau y las sillitas (Meeow and the little chairs) by Sebastein Braun. Both of these books reinforce colors in Spanish and English quite well and both involve trains - a real train and an imaginary train made by chairs by Meeow and his friends.
Wild Thing always loved Freight Train, so finding a bilingual version really excited him, and Meeow and his friends were first discovered through the book Meeow and the Pots and Pans, which the boys also loved in September when we discovered it. Another Meeow book, especially a bilingual one about creating a train out of chairs was beyond perfect for Wild Thing.
Another exciting library discovery for us has been that many Lucy Cousins' books about Maisy are available in bilingual versions or in Spanish editions. This week, we enjoyed Maisy's Toys/Los Juguetes de Maisy and Suenos de colores, Suena con Maisy, which is exclusively in Spanish. The latter book really pushed me with language acquisition as well. Wild Thing already knew his colors in Spanish, but having so many Spanish language books focusing on colors that we're reading at the same time helps him begin to expand beyond the colors as we start to use colors with nouns. I am hoping we can move toward sentences, rather than just simple word recognition soon.
The final picture book we're sharing features beautiful, poetic phrases in Spanish and English. You Are My I Love You/Tu Eres Mi Te Quiero, a board book by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa quickly became the new nighttime favorite at our house. The book is simply lovely opening with: "I am your parent; you are my child. Yo soy tu padres; tu eres mi nino. I am your quiet place; you are my wild. Yo so tu casa; tu eres mi selva," and closing with: "I am your good-night kiss; you are my I love you. Yo soy tus besos de las buenas noches; tu eres mi te quiero." Is your heart melting yet? Mine melts every time we read it.
What makes my heart melt even more is the way Wild Thing embraces learning Spanish and his excitement over new words. I also love to see how contagious this excitement is as Caterpillar has started shouting out Spanish words too lately.
As for me, I’m focusing a lot right now on finding, celebrating and sharing my voice -- my authentic voice, a voice that reflects the unique way that I see the world and seek to engage with the world and what I hope to create and share with the world. In doing so, I’ve also been reading a lot -- about other artists and writers who have shared their process of finding and nurturing their voices.
This week for Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge, I’m catching up by sharing two books I read recently that resonate with the creative journey that I am on: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and Steal Like An Artist by Austin Knoll.
The House on Mango Street is a critically acclaimed book that I had somehow not read until now. I appreciated the novel and should be telling you why. Instead, though, I am focusing on the introduction of the version I read (the 10th anniversary addition). In the intro, Cisneros shares of her experience in graduate school reading book after book (literacy classics) and realizing that none of those classics reflected her experience. All of those books were so removed from her life. She realized she needed to stop trying to write like those literary giants, who were so far removed from her life, and instead needed to find her voice and write a book that would reflect the world she knew -- her neighborhood, her experiences, the stories that surrounded her (when she was young and then as she continued her literary and professional journey counseling teens, etc.).
The resulting book changed literature in many ways and changed the life of some many other Sandras, who now could read a book about them, a book that embraced, celebrated and shared their experiences and validated those experiences. Sadly, literature, particularly kid lit, still struggles to provide books, characters and stories that reflect the diversity of experience that actually exists in the world.
For many children, most books feature characters, homes, families, and neighborhoods so different from their own. I was reminded of this when we read The Magic Poof and Wild Thing excitedly declared that the book had a character like him -- "with crazy hair just like me!" he exclaimed. Children want and need to see books that reflect who they are and celebrate what makes them unique. Given that my sons' grandparents are Dominican, African-American (with French Canadian ancestry as well) and White (and Texan, some would emphasize), finding books with characters like them may not always be easy, but it is necessary. It is also why I encourage storytelling by the boys as well -- I want to help them find their voices and to foster their ability to tell their own story, rather than waiting or needing someone else to tell it for them.
I invite you to share your best resources for celebrating the uniqueness of your child(ren) and to tell me how you empower your children to celebrate their heritage. Three of my go-to resources for kid lit, who often highlight diverse children's books are What Do We Do All Day?, Pragmatic Mom and No Time for Flash Cards.
(P.S. I think I'll save Steal Like An Artist until next week. It was a great read, and I'm excited to tell you all about it next Sunday. If you want to make sure you don't miss it or any of my other posts, go to the sidebar and enter your email address. You'll simply get an email of each new post, which is typically 2-3 posts each week).
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