Friday, June 28, 2019

Migrant Children's Book Drive

Like a lot of you, I'm upset. Why? Because I keep reading about the atrocity happening to children along the border. We have a crisis unfolding and no one seems capable or willing to fix it.

Even compassionate citizens who are trying to donate the items that the Border Patrol claims it is in dire need of are being refused. It has made me feel powerless to stop the mistreatment - many would say abuse - of these migrant children.

But aside from writing my senators and representatives to object, I realized that there is one thing I can do: help the families that are being released.

The Backstory


I finally saw one good piece of news regarding these families seeking asylum on NBC. The piece talks about how citizens from one of the poorest towns in our country have stepped up to help those families who are being released by the Border Patrol to go to their sponsors and await their asylum hearings. When Border Patrol started leaving families in front of their local McDonalds, the community opened their hearts and created a humanitarian shelter to help these families get started with everything from basic supplies (most arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing) to guidance on where they are, and how to get to their sponsor families.

In the piece, I learned that Save the Children has also stepped in to assist these shelters by setting up two of their disaster-proven programs: Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby Areas. The segment included an interview with actress Jennifer Garner, a board member of Save the Children, who was visiting the shelter. And one image, in particular, stood out to me...



There aren't that many books in the background. And none - well, maybe one? - of them appear to be Latino children's literature. Most are (I'm assuming) translations of popular children's books. Because I can't imagine that any of these kids arrive knowing English. Bilingualism is surely a luxury in the countries from which they are fleeing.

So I reached out to Save the Children and guess what? They're desperate for new Spanish-language books.

They want to use these books in the shelters where they have set up their Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby areas. In these areas, their staff and the parents will read to children during the short time that they are at the shelter. Save the Children would also like to be able to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.

I know that books don't seem like something these families urgently need. Most of you may be thinking it's more important for them to have basic necessities such as soap, clothes, diapers, etc. The shelters are receiving lots of these donations from the community and independent organizations.

But books are important to these children also. Many of them have never been read to. Why? Because books are a luxury when you are suffering and fleeing from violence and poverty. And a book is such a treasure to the families because it represents something that they are trying to attain: Hope of a better life for their children.

A better life includes a good education to lift them out of poverty. And a good story is a precious gift to a child because it sparks their imagination, encourages them to dream, and can even motivate them to pursue that dream as they grow older.



The Book Drive


So after talking with Save the Children, I've decided to host a book drive for these migrant children and their families.

The nonprofit is urgently seeking new books in Spanish for children anywhere in between the ages of 2 and 18. These books will be used not only in their shelters to be read during storytimes by their bilingual staff, but we would also love to be able to receive enough books to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.

Currently, they have around 200 children and their families coming through the facility each day. Save the Children has made a 2-year commitment and expects to serve between 10,000 and 50,000 children each year.

So you can see how ambitious our goal is - we'd like to get as many books as possible.

And we invite you to join us, not just in donating books, but in sharing this drive with all of your family and friends.

If you need ideas for which books to purchase, I've created an Amazon gift list with a variety of Spanish titles. If you purchase from this list, the books will be shipped to our receiving center for these shelters and Save the Children.

If you are an organization or publisher and would like to make a large donation of books, please contact me for more information. Save the Children is a nonprofit and is happy to provide you with a letter for your tax deductions.

Thank you ALL so much for your compassion and kindness for these children and their families.


UPDATE 7/1


I am so delighted at the remarkable response I've received to the book drive. I spent the weekend responding to messages from:
  • individuals wanting to donate books,
  • individuals who have already bought and donated books off of the Amazon list,
  • authors and publishers who have agreed to send books ASAP!


And I'm also excited to have the #latinaboomermom, Maritere Rodriguez Bellas join our team! If you live in California, be on the lookout for ways to donate books in person. Follow Mari here!



UPDATE 7/3

TEACHERS! GIRL SCOUT LEADERS! And INDIVIDUALS!

Are you thinking of choosing the Migrant Children's Book Drive for your group's community project? Or thinking of celebrating your birthday with a book drive?

We have free flyer templates for you to use. Click here to download them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer Reads: Explorer Academy


I finally have time to share another title in my Summer Reads list for 2019. (Psst! If you want to see the entire list, check out my Idea List on Amazon. aff link)

This post contains affiliate links. See my sidebar for further explanation. 

This was actually first on my list for this summer because my 13 yo son had read the first book last fall and was totally sold. I picked up the second book at Barnes and Noble not long ago and he was so excited to get the second book that he devoured it in two days. He said it was even better than the first. And he's anxiously awaiting the release of the third book in September. (Seriously, as I sit here typing, my son is going on nonstop telling me everything about the series.)

Explorer Academy is a new series by National Geographic Kids. My kid says it's like National Treasure meets A Series of Unfortunate Events (the one on Netflix). It's full of intrigue, adventure, genius children, and modern technology.

Cruz Coronado is the main character (I love that he's Hispanic!) who applies to an exclusive school that trains adventurous and gifted students to become professional explorers. His mother was a scientist who worked there developing a secret formula for cell regeneration, but she died under suspicious circumstances in a lab explosion. Now, in addition to his studies, Cruz is on a hunt for her secret formula.

There are cool gadgets and cryptic puzzles scattered throughout the book. My son loves that the series is full of adventure but is reality based. He says it has awesome gadgets inspired by real tech devices. And the adventure doesn't have that feeling of fantasy, which he enjoys, but knows it could never happen. With Explorer Academy, the adventure seems almost attainable. "It could happen," he exclaims.

Here's what I like about it: I LOVE the diversity of the characters! They represent so many different cultures and as a reader, you learn about them and their backgrounds. And most of these multicultural characters are talented, skilled students.


Also, National Geographic has created an entire support site for the series. Their website introduces you to the stories and the characters, but it also allows for extended learning with educational games, articles about the real technology that inspired the gadgets in the book, and even interviews with real scientists doing amazing things around the world.

I also like that although the book is written for older children, it still contains some illustrations. They're much more grown up, of course, including photographs, maps, and information based images. Oh, and some are cleverly fused images of photographs with the illustrated character embedded. But our kids are such visual learners and the illustrations serve to complement the storyline and motivate the reader to continue on.


Really, this series stays true to the spirit of National Geographic, encouraging the reader to explore, appreciate, and protect the world around us. So it's at the top end of my Summer Reads list for 2019.

You can find the book series here on Amazon, and visit their website to see the games and explore all the materials they've shared.

Monday, June 24, 2019

13 Free English & Multilingual Online Books for Children


It pains me deeply to read that parents are choosing to keep their children home out of fear resulting from the president's threat of mass raids. But I totally get it because I would, too. This means no summer camps or trips to the library. No bookstores for storytime.

Or maybe you are a family on a budget and summer camps aren't on your list for this year so you are looking for free resources online to keep your kids busy learning...in an entertaining fashion, of course.

Or maybe you are just looking for ways to supplement your child's activities over the course of the summer.

If any of these sound like you, there are still ways to help maintain and even continue to develop your child's literacy skills at home during the summer.

I started looking for free online children's literature that you can access from home and was pretty excited about all of the ones that are available. Here's what I found:


  1. International Children’s Digital Library - Available in 5 languages! Read my review here.
  2. Read Conmigo - English and Spanish
  3. Unite for Literacy - 2 written languages (English and Spanish), PLUS 43 languages for narrated stories!! WOW!
  4. Magic Keys - English only. Pretty simple
  5. Free Children Stories - English only
  6. The Library of Congress - English only
  7. Magic Blox - Books in 6 languages!
  8. Oxford Owl - English only. Free ebooks for kids 3 - 11yo
  9. Storyline Online  - Famous actors read aloud children's books. English only. Includes teacher's guides
  10. Open Library  - Mostly Classics
  11. Project Gutenberg - Also mostly Classics. Available in 4 languages, but not Spanish.:(
  12. Children's Books Forever - 12 different languages!!!
  13. Aaron Shepard's World of Stories - Folktales, fairytales, legends and more


Also, don't forget that I have printable FREE Summer Camp @ Home Calendars for children ages 6 to 10ish! You'll find book recommendations and more.

Friday, June 21, 2019

New Titles in Heritage Journal Series: Guatemala & France


I'm so happy to share that two more titles have been released in my Heritage Journal Series! I had several requests for a heritage journal that explores Guatemalan heritage. So I wrote My Guatemalan Heritage Journal (aff) to help kids explore and document their heritage... and I had a lot of fun researching it.

**And I'm pleased to say that now through August 1st, I'll be donating a portion of the sales of My Guatemalan Heritage Journal to Save the Children for the work they are doing for the asylum-seeking families in Deming, NC.

In addition, I've started working on a series of non-Hispanic titles, starting with My French Heritage Journal. A French version will be coming out soon. And I'm working on Spanish translations of the titles that explore Hispanic heritage. So keep an eye out for these.

As with my other heritage journals, these two books contain:

  • a journal cover page,
  • "This journal belongs to" page,
  • a map for coloring in where in Guatemala/France their family has lived,
  • a page allowing children to write where their family has lived,
  • a page for drawing or pasting your family's crest coat of arms,
  • pages for drawing a family tree,
  • a page for drawing or pasting snapshots of family members with lines for titles and captions,
  • a page titled "Why I consider myself to be Guatemalan/French" with writing prompts and room to write down thoughts and answers,
  • 17 journaling pages with small cultural images and fun facts from Guatemala/France, plus one blank journaling page to be reproduced as often as you like,
  • 3 pages to share favorite family memories or stories with space for adding photos or drawing pictures,
  • 4 pages for recording family interviews,
  • 4 pages dedicated just to photos,
  • 1 sketch pad page,
  • and a family recipe cover page and actual recipe page.


I loved learning about some of the fascinating facts, crafts, and traditions most closely associated with these countries. For example, in the Guatemalan journal, your children/students will learn about places such as Tikal and Pacaya, as well as products like jade, cacao, and coffee. They'll read about worry dolls and huipiles, then discover the resplendent quetzal.

In my French journal, they'll read about famous landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre, as well as the traditional game of boules and the popular Tour de France. They'll also be introduced to French cuisine and famous people.

All these and so much more are found within the pages of these journals. They are here to guide your children as they explore their family heritage and provide a place to record their discoveries. These are designed to be family treasures to be passed down from one generation to the next.



You can find a complete list of all the titles in my Heritage Journal Series here.

And to see some sample pages, take a look at this post that I wrote for the launch of the series.

If you've purchased or plan to purchase any of these titles, I would like to ask that you please, please, please consider writing an honest review on Amazon. Those reviews help my journals show up to families searching for these titles. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Read Around the World: Kutu, The Tiny Inca Princess


Every year, I'm so happy to participate in the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Read Around the World Summer Series. I love learning about new children's books that bring the world to a child's hands. They're a valuable resource when you are raising global citizens who can successfully relate and communicate with anyone.

My selection this year is KUTU: The Tiny Inca Princess - La Ă‘usta Diminuta by the talented Mariana Llanos.

There are so many things about this book to love. It is such a good story about a tiny princess who sets out to save her town by bringing water to it after a long drought. Even though no one thinks that she can help the town because of her small size, she sets out on her own to find help.

Kutu is a fictional character. And the story is original; it is not the retelling of an Inca legend. But the story represents Inca culture and many of the characters in the story are the gods that may be found in Quechua legend. I love that the author has worked to stay true to this ancient culture.

In addition, this book is not just bilingual with full text in both English and Spanish, but it also has Quechua words and phrases sprinkled throughout the story. 


And the illustrations are so adorable!! They are childlike and colorful with an attention to little details that truly represent the culture. My own toddler, who is still too young to understand the storyline, was captivated by them. 

This is just one of the wonderful titles you can find in my 2019 Summer Reads. To see the complete list, click here.


And if you would like to follow along MKB's Read Around the World Summer Series, click here. Because there are some seriously incredible books being shared.


Happy reading, Amigos!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Guy Crafter's BLANK Bead Pattern Journal



My kids have long been fascinated by Perler beads. In the beginning, they tried some of the patterns that come with the beads. But it wasn't long before they were bored with them and their own imaginations took over. Their beadcraft was influenced by everything they loved: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, How to Train Your Dragon, animals, airplanes, Minecraft, and so much more.

This post contains affiliate links.

 


Although my daughter enjoyed creating designs with these fusible beads, it was really my son who took everything to the next level. He wasn't content with the flat patterns he found in books. And before I knew it, he was creating 3-D figures that required snapping or hot-gluing separate pieces together.

And I can't help but think that the time he spent just letting his imagination go to design and assemble these pieces was extremely valuable. So when he said he wished that he had documented his personal patterns somewhere, we decided to make it a reality and create our own Blank Bead Pattern Journal. Mainly because the blank books already out there, really didn't have all the spaces necessary for him to properly record his patterns.


He wanted space to indicate how many boards were needed for the pattern and which board the design currently showed. He wanted space for notes or instructions especially for those patterns that required multiple boards and/or assembly. And he wanted to be able to lay his board directly over the pattern and have it fit perfectly so that he could create the bead craft quickly and accurately.


Do you have a young artist like this? One who takes what they've learned and creates something unique and complicated of their own? Do you have a kid crazy about Perler beads and beadcraft?

Then check out my son's first book. Guy Crafter's BLANK Bead Pattern Book (aff) is tailored with the serious beadcrafter in mind.

And with some prodding, I've convinced him to start working on his own pattern book, too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PBS Launches Spanish-Language Versions of PBS KIDS Programs



Stop the press! I just found out that PBS is launching Spanish-language versions of some of its top kids' shows! I get questions from readers all the time when I share news about PBS KIDS shows, asking me if they are available in Spanish. I was always sad to say no. But not anymore!



Here are the shows you can find on their PBS KIDS Amazon Prime Video Channel:

  • DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, 
  • DINOSAUR TRAIN, 
  • SCIGIRLS, 
  • CYBERCHASE, 
  • and CAILLOU. 
There is a total of 30 episodes of PBS KIDS programming available in Spanish. And if you are a subscriber of the PBS KIDS Amazon Prime Channel, you won't pay any extra fee for the newly available programs.


Hopefully, they will be expanding the number of shows...(Psst! WILD KRATTS, please! I mean, Aviva already sprinkles a teensy bit of Spanish in every now and then. )

Thanks, PBS KIDS!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Free Download: Animals and Verbs Activities in Spanish


I don't know about you, but my summer is just as busy as my school year has been. We've already been to the zoo twice in the last two weeks! 

Speaking of animals, if your kids are working on their Spanish this summer, then don't miss this month's download from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! Inside you'll find activities to teach animals and verbs.

The four-page download has one page of directions, charade cards, blank bingo cards, and a worksheet. You can also use the animal cards to play a memory game. (There are lots of games in this freebie!) It also comes with an audio file to help kids learn the proper 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!

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