Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Playing Lotería: And Interview with Author René Colato Laínez

Yesterday, I shared a post about Google's Doodle celebrating the popular game from Latin America: LOTERÍA! Today, I'm sharing an interview with author René Colato Laínez that was originally published 11 years ago(!) on the Latin Baby Book Club by Aurora Anaya-Cerda founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore.


La bandera! El sol! La chalupa! La sirena!.. LOTERIA!!!

Loteria is one of my favorite childhood games. It brings back so many memories of Mexico…everyone sitting around the front porch, children laughing, everyone using frijoles or bottle caps to cover their cards. I remember being in awe of one of mi tias, who would play 4 cards at a time! Loteria is a fun game for the entire family, and if you have a ‘caller’ who says dichos…it’s 10 times more fun!

This month I bring you an interview with Rene Colato Lainez and his book is Playing Loteria / El Juego de la Loteria.
In this charming story, a little boy visits his grandmother in Mexico, and with the help of la loteria, learns a new language and how special the bond between a boy and his grandmother can be. Together they discover a world of language and come to realize that loved ones truly do have special ways of understanding each other. Accompanied by vibrant illustrations, this story also offers a Spanish lesson. The rules of the game are included so you can play and learn at home, too.

1. What was the inspiration behind "Playing Loteria/ El Juego de la Loteria"?
Part for the inspiration was my love for the Lotería. I grew up in El Salvador saying the phrases: “El arbol”, “El gallo”, “El corazón.” The Lotería was the most popular spot at the fairs and festivals. Every time, we went to la feria, I had my favorite places to visit: the circus, the rides, and of course the lotería stand.
The other part for the inspiration was the students at the school where I work. Most of them come from Latino families but they have trouble speaking Spanish. I wanted to write a story where these students can discover that it is possible to speak two languages and that we need to be proud of our culture.

2. Each family has their own version of how to play Loteria, how/when did your family play the game?
At home, we played the traditional way. We had to cover all the pictures in order to win and yell “Lotería”. My older brother was always, the caller. He was very funny and said a lot of dichos and play of words every time he called the cards. All the family kids and neighbors sat in a circle on the patio and began to play. We played on weekends and after school.

3. Tell us about your experience at "La Voz Estudiantil"I always received very positive feedback from my teachers, every time I wrote a poem or short story. I enjoyed reading the Spanish paper at school “La Voz Estudiantil” and I actually envisioned myself writing on the paper. After writing a poem in my Spanish class, I was invited to join “La Voz Estudiantil.” It was a wonderful experience, I remembered the time when I wrote a long story. The editor said that it was too long but that we could publish it in chapters. After the first chapter, I had many students asking me “What will happen next, please tell us.” They could not wait for the next issue.

4. How can parents encourage their children to celebrate and embrace their Latino roots?The Latino culture is rich in language, dances, and games. Parents can embrace their Latino roots to their children by dancing and singing songs (I love Cri Crí’s songs), playing clap hand games, saying dichos and refranes, telling family and folktale stories, playing traditional games like la lotería, and by reading Bilingual, Spanish and English books that celebrate the wonderful of the Latino culture and language.

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