Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do You Have Bookjoy?

This month has flown by so fast! Is tomorrow really Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros? Do you have any special plans to celebrate? I have been thinking on this for the whole month and wondering what kinds of activities to do with my kids. They love story time and we already go to the library each week, so I have been thinking about what kinds of extra special activities we can do. I have a few ideas, and I will let you know later this week how we celebrated the day.

For those of you wondering what you can do with your children, why not head to your local library? Some held their events this past weekend, but I believe many libraries and bookstores have special events and activities planned for the 30th as well. Here is one link where you can check for celebrations near you.

I also was delighted to stumble upon Pat Mora's new blog, called Bookjoy! (click on the picture above to go to her site.) She has just started it and I think it will grow into a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, librarians and more. If you have a moment, please stop by and take a look and leave her a little message telling her what you think of her new blog. Her most recent post mentioned that she was leaving to attend an ALA Día event in one of the U.S. Senate chambers - How exciting!

And don't forget that Latin Baby's book sale ends tomorrow (Wednesday) night - so pick up some fantastico bilingual children's books now while the books are cheap! To see our entire line, click here.

Computer Woes...

AARG! It has been a long week for me and I apologize for the lack of postings. But thanks to the weird goings-on at our local electric company, my computer's motherboard got fried sometime in the middle of the night last week and I have been struggling to get it fixed. I finally gave up and bought a new computer. Patooee on emachines from now on! All I can say is VIVA HP! I still have a lot of stuff to transfer and install and all the trial junk to uninstall from this new computer, but overall, I should be back in full swing within the next few days!
Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with me!
Ciao for now,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Alma Flor Ada - Preserving our Childhood Culture

For some reason, the days are flying by much too quickly for me lately. I think I have too much on my plate and there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day for me to get it all done. My kids have been especially demanding lately and I am running all day long. I am smart enough to realize that this happens in spurts, so hopefully everything will settle soon. Until then, I hope you will pardon the lack of blogging!

Right, so that said, on to the topic of the day...

I am pleased to focus on my next favorite children's book author, Alma Flor Ada. We have carried her books in the past, and hopefully, I will do so again in the next month or two. I feel she is one of the best authors out there who is trying hard to preserve our Latino childhood traditions. She has several books that focus specifically on folktales and nursery rhymes, including Mamá Goose A Latino Nursery Treasury (my FAVORITE!) and ¡Pío Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes. Both come with English adaptations that are not literal translations, but do capture the essence of the rhymes very well.

All in all, Ms. Ada has been one of the biggest contributors to bilingual education. She has written over 200 books and is a master at retelling traditional folktales. Originally from Cuba, her first children's book (which was originally written for her daughter) became required reading for thousands of Peruvian school children, where she lived and taught as a high school teacher for many years.

Ms Ada has done a lot of traveling. She is an avid collector of folktales and nursery rhymes from all Spanish-speaking countries, and she is quick to retell these tales in books for children. She has more awards than I could possibly list here, but two that stand out are the Pura Belpré and the Christopher Award.

And, again, here is another author whose love of words and tradition was inspired by their grandmother (it never ceases to amaze me the influence that abuelitas have over thier grandchildren!) Ms Ada was taught to read before the age of three by her grandmother who would write the names of plants and flowers in the dirt with a stick.

If you would like to learn more about Alma Flor, or to see a complete list(!) of her books, you can visit her web site here.

As I mentioned, I hope to have a few of her books back in our store by summer, but in the mean time, if you'd like to purchase any of her books, you can do so through Del Sol Books - just click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

E-card celebrating Día de los Niños

Looking for a unique but free gift to send your friends and familia to celebrate Día de los Niños? Reading Rockets has a beautiful e-card for young (and old) readers on their Día page. With original artwork by David Diaz, the card allows you to add your own personal message and comes with the option to include music.

You may recognize David Diaz's work as he is the illustrator of the children's book, The Pot that Juan Built (another excellent book to buy in celebration of Día... it is written by Nancy Andrews-Goebel) and he also designed the illustrations for ColorinColorado.org - one of my favorite bilingual sites for parents and teachers.

To create your own e-card and view other Reading Rocket activities, click here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Latina Crafter on Etsy Designs for la Familia

When I first began discovering the world of blogs – more specifically, craft blogs – I was pleasantly surprised to discover quite a few creative Latinas. I don't really know why I was surprised. I mean, haven't Latinas been finding ways to bring beauty to their homes and families for centuries? I think of all the huipiles, arpilleras, mantones, mácrame, etc, that I have seen over my 30 somethin’ years and am in awe of such talent, imagination and patience!
I still routinely scour the web trying to find other Latinas displaying and discussing their creations and ideas. So for all of you creative mámis out there, I have decided to feature Mia Zamora Johnson of Owlishly. As with many of us, Mia's interest in needlework began as a child when her paternal grandmother taught her how to crochet some of the basic stitches. But, as is often the case, Life got busy and time went by. Mia was busy with school and getting a degree and then marriage and so on. She didn't pick up another crochet hook until the birth of her first child when she designed and crocheted a baby blanket for her son, and then again later for her daughter.
(Isn't it funny, amigas, how our passage into motherhood suddenly sparks the voracious flame of CREATIVITY for so many of us? It is as if once we have created life, this giant monster that has been sleeping inside us, awakens and erupts out of our fertile bodies and demands that we begin a lifelong pursuit of inspiration, beauty, and art.)
Then, in 2006, an amigurumi doll caught her eye. Mia decided the time had come for her to learn how to read patterns so that she could make the stuffed doll for her daughter. After teaching herself from a book and making a few dolls, she decided that she could translate her own ideas and design her own dolls.
Mia says that she has always had a problem with the scarcity of ethnic dolls, so the first ones that she designed were a careful representation of her culture. Mia’s husband is Caucasian, and if you check out her etsy store, you will find that most of her dolls are tan (like Mia and her daughter), with a few lighter ones added (to represent her son).
Mia only sells crochet patterns from her etsy store, but she includes pictures of the finished products, so that you will have an idea of how each doll will look. There are so many adorable little dolls, and some are downright hilarious (check out El Ciclón Panzón Luchador/Mexican Wrestler!!), but by far my favorites are the Sarita Amigurumi Mexican Doll and El Rayo Azul Luchador, both of which are shown above.
And be sure to check out her craft blog, also Owlishly, which features a lot of her work, including pieces other than crochet.

Monday, April 7, 2008

José-Luis Orozco's Music Passes on la Cultura

I hope to highlight several of my favorite authors of bilingual children's books over the next couple of weeks. Some of them I carry in my store, and others I do not...yet! There are so many that I love, but still too few in publication. And as I have written about before here and here, I feel that one of the best and easiest ways of preserving our culture is through music.

Deserving special recognition in this category, is José-Luis Orozco, of whom I am sure all of you have already heard - and, perhaps, you may even have a few of his books or CDs? I think his most popular book may be De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs for Children. I actually sell this one and a few others by Señor Orozco in my boutique (hey, they're on sale, People - get over there!) All of his books are beautifully and richly illustrated, but the heart of each work centers around the lively finger rhymes and folksongs that Mr. Orozco has collected from all over Latin America and Spain.

Born in Mexico city, his wonder and love of music was developed at an early age, thanks to his abuelita. At only 8 years old, he joined the Mexico City Boy's Choir and traveled throughout Central and South America and across the sea to the Caribbean and Europe. His Master's degree is in Multicultural Education and his books are used by thousands of teachers across America. I can't even begin to list all of the awards that Sr. Orozco has received, but I can assure you they are all well deserved.
His works are a gift to children, who will be engaged by the rhythm of the words and music. And your niños will greatly benefit from the interaction with you. Each book comes with lyrics in both English and Spanish, as well as simple arrangements for piano and guitar.

If you'd like to visit José-Luis Orozco's official web site, click here. And don't forget to check out his show schedule to see if he will be performing anywhere near you!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Family Activities to Celebrate Día de Los Niños

The web is filled with wonderful ideas on how to celebrate Día. Remember that the holiday is the culmination of a year full of encouraging bookjoy in children. It is the fostering of love and understanding and acceptance of all cultures and languages. So I have decided to list some ideas for celebrating Día and the web sites from which they have come.

Storytelling is closely tied to this holiday, so why not hand out tablets and pens (or camcorders for older children) and have them interview abuelitas, tíos, neighbors, and friends. Or check with your local senior citizens' center and set up some time for your children (and you!) to sit and record the seniors’ childhood stories. Your children can write up these histories and present them to each of the senior participants in a completed book form. How lovely is this idea? I found it - along with many other activities - on Reforma's official web site. Reforma is an affiliate of the American Library Association. Officially, it is the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. If you'd like to view their web pages on Día de Los Niños/Día de Los Libros, click here.

Or, now that spring is coming, why not get the kids out of the house and plan a giant families-and-books picnic? Fill it with fun activities...maybe each family can bring one of its favorite books and have one area set aside for storytelling. Or get creative and have a bookmark making station where kids can create original artwork to mark their places in their current books. Or how about having a poetry reading? Ask the kids to write poems in the weeks before the picnic and have them read their masterpieces aloud on the actual day. And don't forget to have party favors for each child that attends. To cut the cost you can have each family bring one wrapped favor for each child that they bring to the picnic. At the end, each child can choose one that was brought by someone else. These ideas were based on some mentioned on Pat Mora's site (with a little bit of artistic license on my part!) If you don't already know, Ms. Mora is the founder of Día here in the U.S. and her site has tons of information on the holiday. Check it out here.

As for one of my ideas, why not have a book/movie comparison project? Pick out some books that have been made into movies and read them first. Then plan a movie night in which you watch the movie and then discuss the similarities or differences and which one was better? This could be a family affair or invite friends over and make it a party!

Many more ideas and review to come!

Happy reading, Amigos!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros

When I sat down at the computer today wondering what I should discuss, it suddenly occurred to me that at the end of this month, we will be celebrating Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros. Such a fabulous holiday! And so much to say and write about. So in the spirit of celebrating both our culture and our children, I will be posting a lot this month about events and activities that you can do with the niños in your lives, as well as featuring a few authors that I feel deserve special recognition.

But let's start with the actual holiday. Orginally a Mexican tradition known as Día del Niño, or Day of the Child, it resulted from the 1925 "World Conference for the Well-being of Children" held in Geneva, Switzerland. But in 1996, author Pat Mora, became inspired to combine the holiday with literacy for children and thus, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros was born. Ms. Mora soon found support from across the country, and the vision exploded.

Today, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (also known as simply Día) is the celebration and honoring of our children, who represent the hopes and dreams of every family and community. They are our future and the path that our history will take, depends upon their choices and actions. It advocates literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as essential to their mental development and well-being.

The current outlook is that Día is celebrated every day, culminating on April 30th with events and activities all around the country. Families, libraries, community centers, book stores, museums, and more, all plan and initiate events to observe this holiday and to promote the idea of "bookjoy." (Doesn’t that word make you happy just by reading it?)

Founder, Pat Mora’s web site lists the goals of Día as a daily commitment to:

1) honor children and childhood,

2) promote literacy, the importance of linking all children to books, languages and cultures,

3) honor home languages and cultures, and thus promoting bilingual and multilingual literacy in this multicultural nation, and global understanding through reading,

4) involve parents as valued members of the literacy team,

5) promote library collection development that reflects our plurality.

In 2005, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) offered to become the national home of Día. Today, their web site offers a vast amount of resources for librarians, teachers and parents who wish to observe the holiday. It also providse a brief history of the tradition, lists national events, and gives suggestions for establishing education programs.

To check out the official Día site, click here.
To explore Pat Mora's web site, click here.
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