I’ve noticed that not every child has an opportunity to be exposed to bilingual literature in their classroom. I strongly believe that by providing a variety of texts in our classroom’s library we may open a window or provide a mirror for our children. With this said, there are several books that are not culturally appropriate when it comes down to Spanish texts. Several of our children have or are going through hard situations at home that they may or may not feel comfortable talking about, such as immigration, deportation, and many more. As educators, I believe it’s our duty to look into delicate topics and provide texts for our children. These books are culturally appropriate and can be found at stores like GoodWill, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Scholastics, Barnes and Nobles, and other online sources.
Click here for more details on the Scholastic warehouse sale. After you register they will email you a coupon. They have all their books on sale and also all their other items that are perfect for our treasure box. Last year I spent $75 on 22 books and 30 treasure box items. You can also volunteer and get paid in ‘credit’ that you can use towards your purchase.
Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation
by Edwidge Danticat, Leslie Staub
Not only is this book diverse in characters but it talks about immigration and incarceration! After we learn that Saya’s mother, Mama is in jail (Immigration Detention Center), she was picked up while working in a restaurant. We learn that Mama sends Saya bedtime stories that are inspired by her Haitian folklore. Saya writes a story of her own, a story about her own experience. It’s a very touching story! I cried through it. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos
by Rene Colato Lainez (Goodreads Author), Fabiola Graullera Ramirez
This book is a must! I enjoyed reading it because I can relate to René, the main character, all the issues he faced and story behind the author. With this said, this book is bilingual (written in both English and Spanish) it has a wonderful ending. The illustrations are amazing as well! This book is about a child that has two last names and faces a bit of a conflict when his teacher removes one of his last names. He felt incomplete without having both last names, he realized his name was long but he liked it that way. In fact, he had a dream that one of his last names had disappeared! After he created a family tree (for a school project) he shared his story and talked about both sets of grandparents and at the end, Miss Soria (his teacher) says she will call him René Colato Laínez from then on. It’s an enjoyable book!
Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya
This book is one of my favorite ones! This book is not only bilingual but it also talks about enduring family love! The illustrations are so colorful and pretty! Maya, the main character, is given a blanket when she was little and as she grows she keeps reusing her blanket into something different. Not only does she treasure her blanket because she loves everything she turns it into but because her grandmother gave it to her. This story is very creative as well as colorful. I highly recommend it to everyone! The Author, Monica Brown is starting to turn into my go-to authors.
The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez
I read this book to my kindergarten reading group and they loved it! I thought it was a great book because it takes two different cultural beliefs and joins them together in a fun adventure! Of course, it’s not realistic but it is simply amazing! The illustrations are mind-blowing! This story is about a boy named Miguelito, who recently lost his tooth. Late at night the Tooth Fairy and El Ratón Pérez come to claim their tooth. However, there is an issue since they both want the tooth. The tooth fairy, who is responsible for collecting teeth in the United States, wants Miguelito’s tooth. Meanwhile, El Ratón Pérez is the one that has collected all of Miguelito’s grandparents and parents teeth. They both have a misunderstanding but soon find a solution for it! This book is amazing because it simply connects both languages together (Spanish and English) and it also includes a glossary and brief history of both characters in the back of the book.
I Know the River Loves Me/Yo se que el rio me ama
This story is written in both English and Spanish. Although the illustrator doesn’t use color to illustrate the girl, she does an amazing job with her bone structure making the character seem very realistic. The rest of the book is colored very vivid and alive. This story is about a little girl named Maya that has a very close bond to the river. However, it doesn’t have a problem nor a resolution which is because it’s a short children’s book.
Radio Man/Don Radio
I personally loved this book! I plan to use this book for my classroom library! It’s written in English and Spanish, and the illustrations are very colorful and descriptive. The characters focus more on only one particular cultural group but it enhances the characters even more. I enjoyed this plot because it didn’t label any character as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This allowed the characters to seem so realistic and it allows many students to use as a mirror as well as a window. The story begins as they Diego and his family often travel from place to place due to their work situation (picking crops), during his new adventure he lost contact with a friend, David and he uses the radio as a way to explore the different areas he travels to and at the end he uses the radio to find his friend.
From North to South/Del Norte al Sur
As all of Rene Colato Lainez’s books, the illustrations and details are amazing! They have a variety of different skin tones within the Spanish-speaking community. This book is written in English and Spanish, which makes it a must for my bilingual shelf! This book has a thick plot and the way it allows children to use as a window is amazing! I believe there are more than a handful of students that can use this as a mirror. It also speaks about immigration (a very important issue that young children face today). It starts as Jose’s mom gets deported back to Mexico and he speaks about how his father and he travel to from south to north to see his mother. This book is very realistic and teaches everyone about the child’s struggle. Towards the end, his mother tells Jose she will go back as soon as she gathers her documents to go back into San Diego.