Incorporating Every Child Ready to Read in Bilingual Storytimes | Libro por libro

To celebrate the recent Spanish-language launch of the early literacy initiative, Every Child Ready to Read, Libro por libro has selected kid-friendly bilingual and Spanish titles that work well with each of the five practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing.
Illustration from René Saldaña’s Dale, Dale, Dale/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: Una fiesta de números/A Fiesta of Numbers.

Illustration from René Saldaña’s Dale, Dale, Dale/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: Una fiesta de números/A Fiesta of Numbers.

Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) is an initiative that provides librarians with the tools to help educate and empower parents and caregivers to encourage and foster early literacy. It focuses on five practices, which if used by adults in a child’s life, can make a huge difference in his or her ability to read before they start school. The Spanish version of this program was just released in March of this year by the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, who have been longtime partners in the program. The new toolkit featuring Spanish-language activities and booklists can be downloaded digitally from the American Library Association.

To celebrate the launch, Libro por libro has selected fun and kid-friendly bilingual and Spanish-language titles that work well with each of the five practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing.



luna, Tom. I See the World/Yo veo el mundo . illus by Christina Song. 24p. Lectura. 2012. pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781604480207. PreS-Gr 1–With a text that breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to readers, this simple bilingual picture book is designed to spark conversation between children and their parents or caregivers. The adult reads aloud the names of objects, and then children can find them on the page. It’s great for prereaders, as they can see what the word looks like, in Spanish and in English, and connect it with the item or idea that the word represents. The book covers a variety of locales, including the desert, the ocean, a garage workshop, a farm, and even animals that live underground. The cut-paper collages pop off the page, making the discovery experience easy and fun. TECKENTRUP, Britta. Grande y pequeño. ISBN 9781782850342. ––––. Rápido y lento. ISBN 9781782850359. ea vol: illus. by Britta Teckentrup. Barefoot Bks. 2013. Board $6.99. PreS– These two board books take opposing concepts and lay them out side by side. In Grande y pequeño, kids will compare things big and small. For example, a lion is featured on the left-hand side of the spread and a kitty on the right. An apple is paired with an apple seed, and a bird with a worm. Teckentrup has created connections in these colorful volumes that will invite dialogue between adults and children. They can talk about more than just the concept, but also expand upon it. How are a lion and a kitty related? Why is the worm connected with the bird? Let’s cut open a real apple and look at the seed. See how tiny it is? In Rápido y lento, similar connections are made. A car goes fast, and a bicycle goes slowly. A rocket surely travels much faster than hot-air balloons. Again, wise parents and caregivers can use this title as a conversation starter to help very young children discover more about the world around them and to connect the things they see with words. These concept books are ideally illustrated for this age group. The colors are simple, strong, and bold, with appealing expressions on the faces of the animals and children depicted in the drawings.


SALDAÑA, Jr., René. Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers. illus. by Carolyn Dee Flores. 32p. Piñata Bks. 2014. RTE $17.95. ISBN 9781558857827. PreS-Gr 2–This picture book tells a simple story of a young boy getting ready for his birthday. It’s just two hours until the party starts and he has three tables ready for his guests and four boxes of presents ready for them, and so on. The singing comes in when all of the guests have arrived and sing the piñata song, “Dale, dale, dale.” This book can be shared as a way to introduce singing with children learning to read. The photo-realistic illustrations will help them feel that they are part of the celebration. Speaking of singing, here are three of my favorite recordings that are perfect for ECRR storytimes. Delacre, Lulu, sel. Arrorró, mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. illus. by Lulu Delacre. 32p. Lee & Low. 2004. pap. $17.95 w/CD ISBN 9781600604416. PreS-Gr 2–This CD accompanies the book of the same name with verses selected and illustrated by the incomparable Delacre. The award-winning picture book is a touchstone in Latino literature, and an essential title in a collection of Spanish-language nursery rhymes, poetry, and songs. This production with performances by Cecelia Esquivel and Patricia Vergara expands on the book with lovely recordings of all of the songs in the work. It should be on every storytime playlist. OROZCO, José-Luis. De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs. Arcoiris Records. 1985. CD. ISBN 9781574170092. PreS-Gr 2–The grandaddy of Latino music for children recordings, the album’s titular song “De Colores” is virtually a national anthem. It is sung at the conclusion of every Pura Belpré award ceremony. Orozco himself has been a missionary for Latino children’s music, with performances all over the country. This recording is basic cultural literacy for all children, and should form the foundation of an ECRR Spanish music collection. WALSH, María Elena, Palito Ortega, and Oscar Cardozo Ocampou. Canciones para chicos. Columbia. 2008. CD. PreS-Gr 2–One of my favorite discoveries along the path of searching for material for Spanish-language and bilingual programming has been Argentinian author, singer, and songwriter Maria Elena Walsh. This is a selection of her best tunes, including her signature song, “El reino del revés,” or “The Backwards Kingdom.” Walsh’s hallmark is imaginative wordplay that is not only enjoyable to listen to, but also great fun to sing aloud.


HUTCHINS, J. Spanish First Words/Primeras palabras en español. 24p. Scholastic. 2013. pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780545563284. PreS-Gr 3–This is a book of photographs of familiar items labeled in Spanish and English with an arrow pointing directly to each on the full-page spread. Parents can easily say the word, point to it, and then have kids repeat it, making a connection between the print letters and the object they represent. The subjects covered are perfect for younger readers: basic foods, items in a kitchen, things that can be found in a child’s bedroom and bathroom, and even colors. MCQUINN, Anna . Lola le lee al pequeño Leo . illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw. 28p. Charlesbridge. 2013. RTE. $16.95. ISBN 9781580895989. PreS-Gr 1– When Lola gets a new baby brother, she follows the example that her mother has set by reading aloud to her, and determines that she will be the one to read to her new sibling. This is a great title for parents and siblings to model Lola’s example and read out loud to younger siblings. I appreciate the fact that Lola reads to her little brother throughout the day—when he’s getting his diaper changed, and while he’s taking a bath, which reinforces the notion that reading should not be solely regulated to bedtime. This lovely picture book demonstrates what a huge difference this very simple act can make. The illustrations portray a very sweet bond between a sister and brother. Readers can easily say the word, point to it, and then have kids repeat it, making a connection between the print letters and the objects they represent.


COFER, Judith Ortiz. La poeta del piso de arriba. tr. by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. illus. by Oscar Ortiz. 32p. Piñata Books. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781558857889 . PreS-Gr 3–What better story could there be to reinforce the concept of writing than Cofer’s The Poet Upstairs (2012), now translated into Spanish? In this story, a girl named Juliana meets a poet who has moved into the apartment upstairs from her. When Juliana meets the writer, she ends up getting lessons in how to write poetry. This tale models poetry, and there are several writing prompts. This is a story that encourages readers to use words to describe what they see around them. Ortiz’s illustrations are lush and bring the poet’s imaginative world to vivid life. MORA, Pat. Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué rico!: America’s Sproutings. illus. by Rafael López. 32p. Lee & Low. 2007. pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781600608926. PreS-Gr 1–The premier Latina poet, Mora, presents this food-themed book of haiku poetry that focuses on fruits, nuts, berries, and vegetables that have a specific significance in Latino culture. Some of the verses feature pumpkins, chiles, and of course, chocolate. Mora’s poetry is full of deliciously descriptive language. This book is also immensely enriched by López’s illustrations. He has become one of my very favorite illustrators, whose vibrant, joyous, and immediately recognizable style draws much from Latino cultural roots. His characters are always full of motion and energy, and in this title they are jumping, playing drums, and savoring the taste of the mouthwatering food. A reading of this title can be followed by an art session creating kids’ favorite fruits, whether coloring in already prepared shapes, or drawing and cutting up their own.


KURUSA. La calle es libre . Ediciones Ekaré. 1981. ISBN 9789802570508. OP. –––. The Streets Are Free. ISBN 9781550373707. Annick Pr. 2008. $11.95. ea vol: illus. by Monika Doppert. 48p. pap. PreS-Gr 3–This is one of the first Spanish books I discovered at the beginning of my career, and one that has remained close to my heart over the ensuing 30 years. It was featured as a landmark multicultural book in Leonard Marcus’s exhibit, “The ABC of It,” currently on display at the New York Public Library. Originally published in Venezuela in 1961 by the nonprofit Ediciones Ekaré, it was based on actual events. The narrative follows a group of barrio children who “petitioned the Caracas city government for a safe park in which to play. The local library, which serves as a source of books and as a community gathering place, closely resembles those founded by the literacy organization of which Ekaré is the publishing offshoot, Venezuela’s world-renowned Banco del libro, or Book Bank. Needless to say, this is a perfect book with which to introduce the pre-literacy practice of play to children and to adults. Children need to have a place to play, and these Venezuelan children fought to have such a place. KOHARA, Kazuno . La casa encantada . tr. by Joana Delgado. illus. by Kazuno Kohara. 32p. Picarona/Obelisco. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780545563284. PreS-Gr 1–One of the best things about kids is their capacity for imaginative play. Children can take almost any everyday object and turn it into something magical. Such is the case with this translation of Kohara’s The Haunted House. A small witch takes animate objects—ghosts—and turns them into curtains, tablecloths and even blankets. Even though she captures the ghosts to make use of them, the way in which she does it suggests exuberant and yes, imaginative play. Children could take the idea of this book and think about how they could creatively make use of ghosts. Perhaps you could take some sheets and have children play with them and make things you would not normally expect. Kohara’s red and black graphics are quite striking, making the white ghosts stand out with shimmering and translucent clarity. There are other titles that could be paired with this work, such as Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box (HarperCollins, 2006). The idea is to help children develop their imagination and their literacy skills through play, and specifically through play with basic, ordinary objects. A terrific resource that I highly recommend for Spanish-language fingerplays, songs, and rhymes is the Texas State Library Día de los Niños site. This site not only has a nice selection of songs and fingerplays, but also has links to other resources. It’s a great place to start.
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Cecilia Horn

Thank you for this article. I would like to mention that Carolyn Dee Flores is the artist who created the illustration from Dale, Dale, Dale/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: Una fiesta de números/A Fiesta of Numbers that is shown at the top of the article. Her name is mentioned in the review, but not under her art. Carolyn has also illustrated the book, Canta, Rana, canta/Sing, Froggie, Sing.

Posted : Jul 24, 2014 05:53


This is pretty amazing. Being able to converse and read in more than one language encourages the desire to know so many things about their and other cultures! Not to mention, might help their careers too! Great initiative!

Posted : Jul 18, 2014 03:48



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