Friday, May 29, 2020

How I Talk to My Teen about What is Happening in our Country

Last night, around midnight, I found my eldest teen sitting on the back steps of our house crying. When I opened the door and asked what was happening, she said, "I hate this country." She bawled in my arms and showed me all the outraged social media posts she had seen about what was happening and the innocent lives that were being tortured or lost. She was overwhelmed by the horror.

At first, I hugged her and told her, "It's okay." I was on automatic pilot trying to soothe her. She immediately said, "No! It's NOT okay!" And she was right.

I can't tell you how hard I prayed to have the right words for her.

So I told her, "You're right. It's not okay. And I'm really glad that you can see that."

We went on to talk about how our country was terribly broken right now. That it has been for a long time but that things have gotten worse in recent years. And people are angry and tired of being ignored.

People should be outraged. They should be livid that there is so much injustice, racism, and just plain evil in this world... and especially outraged that it is still happening in our country.

We talked about how looting is wrong, but their protests, anger, and emotions were totally justified.

We talked about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We talked about school shootings. We talked about children being separated from their parents and kept in cages or deported back to countries where they have no parents or families.

I talked about how all of this racism and hate wasn't new, but that it is now becoming visible to everyone and cannot be ignored.

I told her how proud I was of her for being upset and angry and just knowing how wrong it is to treat people so horribly. We talked about how God is not a respecter of persons and that we are ALL EQUAL in his sight. I told her how we are all the same no matter what we look like on the outside. And we are all precious and valuable.

My daughter kept whispering that it should be instinct not to kill a person. That pretty much broke my heart.

I talked about how no baby is born racist. That it is a learned characteristic. Learned from examples. And it comes from a lack of education and a lack of exposure to people of all different walks of life.

I told her that her generation actually gave me a lot of hope. Because young people today are finding their voices and they aren't afraid to use them. People like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, Mala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier, and so many others.

I think that just talking about it was very therapeutic for her. She calmed down and was able to control her tears. Knowing that her feelings were justified and that she wasn't alone in feeling them was really important to her. So was letting her know that I was proud of her outrage and her ability to see the absolute wrongness of the whole situation.

These difficult issues are just exacerbated by the pandemic. Which makes our journey as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation that much more difficult.

Don't be afraid to talk to your children. This is the perfect time to talk about the beliefs you hold to be good and true and right. Encourage your children to be brave in the face of adversity. To realize that they can be hurt for speaking the truth. But that ultimately staying true to ourselves and beliefs is worth it. And speaking up for those who are wronged, hurt, or worse is important otherwise we are guilty of the sin, too.

Silence is acceptance.

Silence is approval.

We are better than that.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Special Finds: Frijolitos Books

I was going through some boxes in my storage unit this weekend and found copies of the original Fijolitos books. I'm not really sure if this company still exists. I cannot find their books on Amazon or anywhere else online. Anyway, I thought that a MommyMaestra reader might want these little treasures, so I'm selling them as a set.

Filled with culturally relevant illustrations and themes, both books present the text in both English and Spanish. Picadillo the Armadillo/Picadillo el Armadillo is the first book in the series and follows the mischievous antics of Picadillo when he is found and taken in by an excited young girl named Lilia. He is accompanied by Albondiga, the Mariachi dog, who at first tries to keep Picadillo out of trouble, but finally winds up joining in on all the naughty fun. The ending is warm and sweet and teaches a good life lesson about not judging a book by its cover. 

But my favorite book is the second one in the series, Tuguita Tere: A Home for My Books/Un Hogar Para Mis Libros. The book centers around (surprise!) Tuguita Tere as she celebrates her 5th birthday and eagerly applies for her very own library card. Tuguita is an imaginative bibliophile, always dreaming up adventures based on the books that she reads. I really like how the book references historical figures (ie, Frida and Sor Juana Inés to name a few) – this would be a great way to introduce your children to other historical children’s books, too. The back of Tuguita’s book even includes a history of the piñata (Did you know it was originally an Italian game? I didn’t!) and a nice little section with tips about reading to your child. Both books even include lesson plans for teachers and parents in the back. 

So if you’d like to pick up your very own copy of one (or both!) of these fun books, click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Celebrate World Bee Day!

Jon Sullivan / Public domain

Did you know that today is World Bee Day? Bees play SUCH an IMPORTANT role in our earth's ecosystem. Without bees to pollinate 75% of the world's flowering plants, entire ecosystems would would be affected or lost. The honey bee alone pollinates 35% of the world's food crops. Here in the U.S., the honey crop was worth more than $300 million just seven years ago.

But bees all around the world are in decline. We need to educate our children about bees and foster a sense of appreciation and preservation in our youth.

To celebrate World Bee Day, I've put together this packet. Bees of the World Fandex & Activity Sheets is designed to teach your children/students all about bee biology with reading passages, coloring pages, worksheets, and a printable board game. In addition, they'll learn about 9 different types of bees using the printable fandex, which also serves as a reference for the worksheets. This file is English only, but I'll work on getting a Spanish version available by June 1st.

You can find it (and a list of the bee species covered), here in my TpT shop. 

MommyMaestra subscribers! Be on the lookout for a free download in this month's newsletter. It is a sample of the big packet. I hope your kids have as much fun playing it as I did making it.

Long live the bees!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Earth School

Hey, friends! Have you heard about E
arth School? It's amazing and I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. My 14yo has just started it.  

Earth School is a 30-day (not including weekends) interactive adventure through the natural world. Hosted on the TED-Ed website, a new "quest" is posted daily (five days a week). Each quest includes a video and lesson plan. The program was launched on Earth Day (April 22nd) and it runs through World Environment Day (June 5th). It focuses on nature and our relationship with or dependency on it. 

Each week has a theme. They post on a 5-day week plan, so there are six weeks of content. The themes are: 
  • The Nature of Our Stuff
  • The Nature of Society
  • The Nature of Nature
  • The Nature of Change
  • The Nature of Individual Action
  • The Nature of Collective Action

A partnership between the UN Environment Programme and TED-Ed, Earth School is FULL of amazing videos. Here's an example from Day 1...

TED Ed is alway high-quality education programming. So I trust them when it comes to my kids. 

If you'd like to check it out with your family, visit TED Ed's Earth School site.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Las vacas no pueden saltar - Cows Can't Jump

This is a sponsored book post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It may use affiliate links.

I frequently get requests from bilingual families for book recommendations. And now that I have an almost preschooler in my house again, I'm always on the lookout for bilingual board books with full text in both English and Spanish. But they can be hard to find. So after I saw a copy of Las vacas no pueden saltar (aff link), I knew it was a good fit for MommyMaestra readers.

In fact, while I was looking at a review copy of the book, my 2-year-old walked into the room and immediately crawled onto my lap demanding that I read it to him. Which I was happy to do. When we finished, I asked him what he could and couldn't do. He said he couldn't fly, but that he could jump, jump, JUMP. (He then promptly proved it.)

Have you seen the English version, Cows Can't Jump, by Dave Reisman? Well, the bilingual version is even better because it allows bilingual families or classrooms to choose which language they want to focus on while reading. And the storyline is equally fun in both languages for little people with big imaginations. 

Reisman's book introduces children to animals and their abilities. You'll discover not only what specific animals can't do, but also what they CAN do. Check out this excerpt from the book...
"Los gorilas no pueden nadar...pero pueden columpiarse. Las jirafas no pueden columpiarse...pero pueden galopar.
Gorillas can't swim...but they can swing. Giraffes can't swing...but they can gallop." 
And so this book goes, on and on, animal after animal, teaching children all about animals and their special skills. Beautiful in its simplicity, the literacy nut in me delights in all the action verbs that children learn about as they go through the book.

For these exact reasons, this book is a treasure for language learners, also. What a great way to teach vocabulary - especially Spanish reflexive verbs!

The illustrations are engaging, too. Each page shows the subject animal doing - or not doing as the case may be - the various activities. Take a look...

What I love best about this book is how it prompted my toddler to go and find all his animal figures and start playing with them. Imaginative play is so important! And that, to me, is what makes a book a keeper.

Las vacas no pueden saltar / Cows Can't Jump is available both in paperback and board book versions.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Free Download: Spring Fun Bilingual Booklet

One of the good things to come out of self-isolating during this time has been all the attention my garden is getting! I'm thankful that the pandemic didn't hit us during the winter (I realize that we may be in for it next winter), and that we've had spring weather to let us spend time in our yard and garden.

So that's why this month's download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, is perfect.

This month's freebie is spring fun booklet. The two-page file includes an instruction page and set of questions to answer after reading the booklet. There's also an audio file to help with pronunciation.

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Why We Stay at Home (Free eBook)

Check out this adorable eBook that is available for FREE! Written by two medical students from Southern California, Why We Stay at Home helps explain to kids why they are staying home during the pandemic. It's short and sweet and has great illustrations. I especially love that the main characters are children of color because we just don't see enough diverse children's books, especially on this topic.

Samantha Harris is studying to be a pediatrician and Devon Scott is going into orthopedic surgery. The cool thing is that this is just their first book in a series.

Click here to download your free copy of Why We Stay at Home: Suzie Learns about Coronavirus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week TpT Sale

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

And as they do every year, TeachersPayTeachers is having a sitewide sale. NOW is the time to go through your wishlist and buy what you've been waiting for.

Everything in my store is fully discounted the maximum that they allow (20%), PLUS an extra 5% from TpT itself. Go and stock up, friends!

Here are a few suggestions...

Monday, May 4, 2020

Cinco de Mayo Printable Resources

Cinco de Mayo is almost here! Need fast, printable, no-prep materials? Check out these options:

Good for larger families with multiple children, you can let them choose the style of booklet they'd like to use: a flipbook, an accordion book, and a booklet. All three are available...
• in black-and-white for coloring in
• with descriptive text or blank to allow students to write inside,
• and in English or Spanish. 

This interactive notebook delves deep into the REAL history of the holiday and the impact it had on U.S. history. This set includes:
• Notebook cover page
• Close reading passage on the history of the Battle of Puebla
• Close reading passage highlighting the biography of General Ignacio Zaragoza
• 4 Information templates & map
• Discussion questions

These 8 coloring pages are an introduction to the REAL history of Cinco de Mayo. From General Zaragoza to Napoleon III, your students will learn about the impact the Battle of Puebla had on U.S. history through brief descriptions in English and Spanish that are easy for young children to understand.

The REAL History of Cinco de Mayo Reading Passage (4th - 8th)

A one-page history on the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo. From Benito Juarez's decision to stop paying foreign debts for 2 years to the significance of the battle on U.S. history, this informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Available in English and Spanish, this set has 9 designs in each language with writing lines for both beginning and advanced writers.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Barnes & Noble National Children's Short Story Contest

Do you have a budding writer in your home? I would really love to see Hispanics represented among the 15 winners! It's important that our stories be included and published. But that means that we have to write them. Encourage your children to enter!

Barnes & Noble is calling on children ages 6-12 to share their original short stories for a chance to be published in a book as well as receive a signed edition book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine.

“We believe in the power of stories to inspire and bring joy, particularly in challenging times such as the one we’re living in now,” said Jackie De Leo, Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of Bookstore at Barnes & Noble. “Our Children’s Short Story Contest was created to be a fun and motivating outlet for young writers to share their work. We can’t wait to see the submissions, and although we can’t share all of them, we’re looking forward to publishing some budding authors in a book to be showcased by Barnes & Noble.”

Parents or legal guardians can submit on Fifteen select entrants will be published in a book sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble this holiday season, with proceeds going to charity. The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will also get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine, who will be writing a forward to the published book.
  • Parents or legal guardians can submit an original written or graphic short story on behalf of children ages 6 – 12 from April 27 through May 29 on
  • Entries should include the parent or legal guardian’s name, email, and address. Only the child's first name and age should be provided with your entry.
  • The work must be an original written or graphic story.
  • Suggested word count is 300 - 800 words or 4 pages of a graphic story (black & white).
  • The fifteen winners and fifteen runners-up will get a signed book from bestselling author Gail Carson Levine. Winners and runners-up will also have the chance to be featured on Barnes & Noble's social channels.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

New Books to Celebrate Día

I have a ton of new books that I have been wanting to share with you. Since we are celebrating Día de los niños/Día de los libros this week here on MommyMaestra, now is a great time!

Buying new (and old!) titles by multicultural authors has multiple benefits.

First, you are supporting these authors, many of whom have seen the launch date of their new titles postponed because of the pandemic. It seems silly because now, more than ever, books are precious and desperately needed by children and families across the country and the world.

But publishing companies are hard hit, too. Many are having to work from home or furlough their employees. And printing companies have also been closed down. So when you purchase - or pre-order!! - one of these books, you are helping a lot of people.

Last, and perhaps most important, you are helping your kids. You're providing them with opportunities to read stories about their own culture that they might not get in their schools. Or you may be exposing them to other cultures as a way of breaking down stereotypes and helping them understand different customs or outlooks. Or you may be simply providing them with a chance to escape the (boringly?) familiar confines of shelter in place. Or giving them a way to escape the stress of a pandemic that is hurting not just our country, but the world.

So there you have it. Three good reasons to buy books for your kids. And if they are books written by or about Latinos, even better!

Here are my recommendations for today.

¡A leer!

The following Amazon links are affiliate links.

Picture Books for Young Readers

Written by Monica Brown
Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Here's the book description, but let me tell you. I've already seen the book and it is such a great story. If you have young children who love adventure and are looking for some inspiration, this is it.
Growing up in the late 1800s, Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy, spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Nothing scared Julio, not even the ancient human skulls he found. His bravery earned him the boyhood nickname Sharuko, which means brave in Quechua, the language of the Native people of Peru.

At the age of twelve, Julio moved to Lima to continue his education. While in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The skulls had long ago been sent to Lima to be studied by scientists. The article renewed Julio's interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru's Indigenous history.

Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, and he worked to preserve the historical treasures he excavated. He showed that Peru's Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago, disproving the popular belief that Peruvian culture had been introduced more recently from other countries. He fostered pride in his country's Indigenous ancestry, making him a hero to all Peruvians. Because of the brave man once known as Sharuko, people around the world today know of Peru's long history and its living cultural legacy.

written by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez 
illustrated by Laura González

With Spanish vocabulary and a clever counting concept, this poetic story shares the life cycle of a Mexican jumping bean. This curious jumping insect is actually a seedpod from a shrub called yerba de la flecha, into which a caterpillar burrows, living inside the pod until it builds a cocoon and breaks out as a moth. Perfect for preschoolers and prereaders, this creative picture book explores the Mexican jumping bean's daily life and eventual transformation and escape from the pod.

written by Raul the Third
colors by Elaine Bay

In this new Vamos! title, Let’s Go Eat, Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favorite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Peppered with easy-to-remember Latin-American Spanish vocabulary, this glorious celebration of food is sure to leave every reader hungry for lunch!

Jam-packed with fun details and things to see, the Vamos! books are perfect for fans of Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo?

written by Michael Genhart
illustrated by Priscilla Burris

When both grandpas, Abuelo and Opa, visit at the same time, they can’t understand each other’s language and there is a lot of silence. The grandson’s clever thinking helps find a way for everyone to share the day together as two cultures become one family. This unique book includes a bonus fold-out and a note from the author sharing the true story of his own family.

written by Naibe Reynoso
illustrated by Jone Leal

A bilingual book that highlights 11 Latinos who excelled in their professional careers and made U.S. history by accomplishing something that hadn't been done before in their respective fields which include science, sports, the arts and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding Latinos in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success. Each persons biographical story is written in both Spanish and English to encourage and promote bilingual literacy. Some of the men highlighted include Cesar Chavez (Activist), Jose Hernandez(Astronaut), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Playwright), Jean-Michel Basquiat (Artist), Julian Castro (Politician) and more.

written by Juan Felipe Herrera
illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Have you ever imagined what you might be when you grow up? When he was very young, Juan Felipe Herrera picked chamomile flowers in windy fields and let tadpoles swim across his hands in a creek. He slept outside and learned to say goodbye to his amiguitos each time his family moved to a new town. He went to school and taught himself to read and write English and filled paper pads with rivers of ink as he walked down the street after school. And when he grew up, he became the United States Poet Laureate and read his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? With this newly translated illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.

by Steven Wolfe Pereira & Susie Jaramillo

In Tiny Travelers Puerto Rico Treasure Quest, readers journey from the historical city of San Juan with its famous "El Morro" fort, to the beautiful bioluminescent bay in Vieques. Tiny Travelers will enjoy getting closer to Puerto Rican culture, and seeing why it is called “La Isla del Encanto” (the island of enchantment).

Each illustrated spread invites children to discover hidden "treasures" - icons, animals, statues, instruments, and more - that make up the rich cultural heritage of Puerto Rico.

Books for Middle Schoolers

Written by Mae Respicio

Lou Bulosan-Nelson has the ultimate summer DIY project. She's going to build her own "tiny house," 100 square feet all her own. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother's house, and longs for a place where she can escape her crazy but lovable extended Filipino family. Lou enjoys her woodshop class and creating projects, and she plans to build the house on land she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. But then she finds out that the land may not be hers for much longer.

Lou discovers it's not easy to save her land, or to build a house. But she won't give up; with the help of friends and relatives, her dream begins to take shape, and she learns the deeper meaning of home and family.

by Hilda Eunice Burgos

Her last name may mean kings, but Ana María Reyes REALLY does not live in a castle. Rather, she's stuck in a tiny apartment with two parents (way too lovey-dovey), three sisters (way too dramatic), everyone's friends (way too often), and a piano (which she never gets to practice). And when her parents announce a new baby is coming, that means they'll have even less time for Ana María.

Then she hears about the Eleanor School, New York City's best private academy. If Ana María can win a scholarship, she'll be able to get out of her Washington Heights neighborhood school and achieve the education she's longed for. To stand out, she'll need to nail her piano piece at the upcoming city showcase, which means she has to practice through her sisters' hijinks, the neighbors' visits, a family trip to the Dominican Republic . . . right up until the baby's birth! But some new friends and honest conversations help her figure out what truly matters, and know that she can succeed no matter what. Ana María Reyes may not be royal, but she's certain to come out on top.

by Carlos Hernandez 

A brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence. Among many other challenges, Sal and Gabi have to try to make everything right with our world when there is a rogue Gabi from another universe running loose.

Sal Vidon doesn't want to live a Mami-free life. Pulling different versions of his mother from other universes is how he copes with missing his own, who died years ago. But Sal's father, a calamity physicist, is trying to shut down all the wormholes Sal creates, because Papi thinks they are eroding the very fabric of our world. All of Papi's efforts are in vain, however, because a Gabi from another universe has gone rogue and is popping up all over the place, seeking revenge for the fact that her world has been destroyed. While Sal and Gabi work together to keep both Papi and Rogue Gabi under control, they also have to solve the mystery of Yasmany, who has gone missing from school. Could it have something to do with the wormhole in the back of his locker?

by Kim Baker

Newt Gomez has a thing with bears. Last year he survived a bear attack. And this year, he finds an unusual bear statue that just might grant wishes. Newt's best friend, Ethan, notices a wishbone on the statue and decides to make a wish. When it comes true, Newt thinks it's a coincidence. Even as more people wish on the bear and their wishes come true, Newt is not convinced.

But Newt has a wish too: while he loves his home on eccentric Murphy Island, he wants to go to middle school on the mainland, where his warm extended family lives. There, he's not the only Latinx kid, he won't have to drive the former taco truck--a gift from his parents--and he won't have to perform in the talent show. Most importantly, on the mainland, he never has bad dreams about the attack. Newt is almost ready to make a secret wish when everything changes.

Books for Young Adults

by Matt Mendez

Juan has plans. He's going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself--or at least find something better than his mom Fabi's cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.
His best friend JD has plans, too. He's going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He's got a camera and he's got passion--what else could he need?
Fabi doesn't have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don't always pan out, and that there some things you just can't plan for...
Like Juan's run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.
Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­-like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can't plan for...

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

by Margarita Engle 

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Día Craft: DIY Book Tutorial

The following tutorial is contributed by Lisa Renata. It originally ran on the Latin Baby Book Club.

Reading is a daily thing in our home, as is recycling and creating. So when I was asked if I could put a tutorial together on how to create your own bilingual book, I was ecstatic. I then gathered the materials (and kids) needed to start our project. This is what we came up with.

Nothing fancy. It is made by children after all, but isn't that what makes it that much more special? The older the child gets the more intricate the work, details, and writing will be.

Make Your Book:

Creating a book is a lot easier than it looks. It is also a perfect and a fun way for your little one to practice reading in both languages (or one).

What you'll need:

• an empty cereal box
• 5 sheets of white printer paper
• sewing machine and thread (other options available)
• markers, crayons, colored pencils
• stamps and ink


First, cut out the larger part of your cereal box. This will be your book cover.

Then use it as a template to size and crop your 5 sheets of white paper. You want the white paper to be slightly smaller than the cover.

Fold your cover and paper (at the same time) in half. Then if you have a clip available, clip one of the ends together. This will help hold all the sheets and cover in place while you sew a line across the center. Use the fold line as your guide.

If you don't have a sewing machine other options to bind your book can be: stapling the center together, or hole-punch about four holes on the edge of the fold and then run ribbon or yarn through the holes. Make sure to knot the ends.

Write Your Story:

Now it is time to write your story! What to write? Well, that will depend on the age of your child and what their interests are at the time. In our case, my five-year-old son is really into animals right now. So we decided to make a book about animals.

First, I wrote out the title and by-line page.

Because he is still learning to read in both English and Spanish, I decided to do the writing for him. I wrote simple three-word sentences. I chose black ink for the words in Spanish and blue ink for those in English.

Then he drew a picture that went along with each sentence.

For my three-year-old daughter, I wrote one word per page, both in English and in Spanish (also using different colors per language) and drew the pictures for her. All she had to do was color them in.

Once the inside of the book was completed, we then decorated the cover with stamps. How much supervision you need with each child will also depend on their age. I allowed my son free range on how he wanted his front cover decorated, but my daughter, on the other hand, needed my help.

Again, the older your child is the more detailed his/her book will be and the less involved you will be in the book-making process (in fact, if your child can sew, you can let him/her bind the book). If your child does not know what to write about, give him/her some topic ideas. The important thing is to encourage creativity in both their writing and art.

Book cover finished? Then you are done!

Have fun together reading your child's creation over and over again!


Lisa Renata is a US-born Latina who experienced Mexican culture first-hand when she lived there as a child. Lisa is a book lover, a mama raising her two kids bilingual, and a crafter.. with a camera always in her hands. You can often find her interpreting and testing for the local school district ESOL program or making new items for her Etsy shop SaborCajeta.

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