Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros!

Wishing you all a happy Día today!

But remember - EVERYDAY is Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros!

We'll be celebrating today with lots of fun and lots of books. How about you?

Before I go, I want to share with you some of the events happening online today:

FIRST, don't miss the announcement of the Día Blog Hop Grand Prize Giveaway winner over on www.Latinas4LatinoLit.org. Felicidades to the winning library!

Second, "Vecinitos: Lots of Little Neighbors, One Big City" is an exciting new Spanish program for children. This summer they'll be running a seven-week long Spanish immersion summer program for children 5-9 years-old at La Casa Azul Bookstore at 143 E 103rd St, NY, NY 10029. Children will learn Spanish through original songs (available with lyrics in Spanish and English on CD Baby at http://www.vecinitos.org/music-and-songs), traditional Latin American rhythms, games and their own works of art - all in Spanish. In honor of El Dia de los Niños, they have a special offer: Anyone who signs up TODAY ONLY gets a very special one-time discount of 15% off the camp! That's 20 hours of camp for just $255. (Normally the camp is $300 per week, so with the 15% off, it would be $255 per week.) You can register here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Science Xplained: Ice Cream Chemistry

And our favorite Science Evangelist, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, is back with another Science Xplained video. This episode focuses on MommyMaestra's favorite food: ice cream! ¡Que rico! So grab your kid and sit and watch this short - but educational! - video.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Free PDFs of Spanish Textbooks for Grades PreK - 6th


MommyMaestra readers are the best. They are supportive, helpful, and always willing to share information to help the other parents who follow along.

I received this email from Jessica Lemley-Carballo a few days ago, and I just want to say to her, muchisimas gracias for sharing this with me and all of the other readers who are out there looking for resources.

I hope some of you find this really beneficial.


Hi Monica,

Recently, I stumbled across Mexican Governments Basic Education Reform page.  I was surprised to see that they offer textbooks for free in PDF version on their website for grades Prek-6.  The textbooks cover all the subjects and are very engaging.  It's truly an amazing resource.  Of course, the website is in Spanish as are the textbooks.

The website is--

Under search enter: Alumno, 2012-2103, Preescolar or Primaria and Grade level.

The download seems to be pretty slow but worth it! There seems to be more in the way of videos and activities that I haven't explored yet.

UPDATE: Apparently the site has been reorganized. Here are new links that may help you:

Landfill Harmonic: The Recycled Orchestra

Landfill Harmonic
Last December, I shared the story of Landfill Harmonic with you. It is the beautiful and true story of 20 children living in the Paraguayan slum of Cateura. I posted the inspiring video of how they are collecting trash from the landfill to create musical instruments and have created their own Recycled Orchestra. And I told you that Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary hoping to finish production this year.

A heartfelt & moving story of how instruments 
made from recycled trash 
bring hope to children 
whose future is otherwise spiritless.

Well, they have moved their fundraising to the Kickstarter platform and have already raised over $147,500 of their $175,000 goal. They only have 20 days left to finish raising the money, or their wonderful project will not be funded.

Of course, you know that I am going to promote and support this inspiring film simply because of the ingenuity of the community, as well as the hope and proof it provides that children can and will succeed if given the right motivation and support. Bravo to the family, friends, and teachers who work to make these children's dreams come alive despite their circumstances.

If you'd like to join me in supporting Landfill Harmonic, you can read all about their project, watch the trailer, and donate here.

Un abrazo!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Book That Changed My Teaching

It's true when teachers say that no four-year university can teach you all you need to know when entering the education field. When I entered my first teaching position in a predominantly Latino classroom in a middle-school right outside of Chicago, I was not prepared for what teaching is really all about. Unit plans, lesson plans, and state standards were not the only topics we discussed during staff meetings. The education of our students was our priority, but as it goes in all schools across our nation, sometimes figuring out how to help students become decent citizens of our world can consume a lot of teachers' time.

I left Loyola University with solid grades and a love and appreciation for Victorian Literature. I glided through "Teaching Children and Adolescent Literature" but never even thought about where I would find books that these students could relate to. I just figured that my passion for all types of genres would transcend through my whole being and my middle school students would have intelligent discussions on works such as, The Giver, Night, and Romeo and Juliet. In my head, I pictured a different type of classroom setting.

To say that I was wrong about so many things during that first year of teaching is an understatement. I needed to change my methods and dig deep for creative ways to help students who lacked interest in reading and for those reading below their grade level. I needed to find books with characters with whom they could identify. Latino literature was out there, not much, but some good quality reads and I found them. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan was one of the first books I suggested to some of my students and I found them not only engaged after a few pages, but their eyes shined a little brighter, backs sat up straighter and a hunger for literature such as this was becoming a new request. I also started to see pride in my students when they talked about characters like Esperanza.

Esperanza Rising, recipient of the Pura Belpre Award, covers loss, change and sacrifice as young Esperanza learns that she must flee her wonderful life in Mexico and migrate with her mother to the United States. Completely startling her reality of beautiful dresses and a big home, Esperanza starts a new life in California, during the Great Depression, working in the fields and learning to adjust to a new life, in a new country and in a different social class.

This wonderful book taught me that even 13 year-olds, like Esperanza and my students, will need to find themselves, adjust and rise to the circumstances presented to them. In the beginning of my teaching career, I thought that with my waiting-to-be-tested teaching methods I could inspire just about anyone to pick up any type of book. I learned quickly that I too needed to rise to the occasion.

Disclaimer: All Amazon links are my affiliate links. Thank you!

Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

5 Tips for Non-Native Speakers to Homeschool Bilingually

© bst2012 - Fotolia.com

I'm so happy to publish another article sharing the story of one mom's experience with bilingual homeschooling. The following is a guest post by Heather Magnuson, a mother of two and a bilingual homeschooler.

In a former life (pre-kids), I taught first-grade Spanish-English dual-immersion.  In spite of my previous teaching experience, the thought never crossed my mind that I could actually teach my sons Spanish, much less teach them in Spanish.  I had tried to teach my oldest son Spanish when he was a baby, but at a very early age (14 months!) he screamed whenever I tried to read a book in Spanish.  So, I gave up.
I’ve always been a huge proponent of bi/multilingualism, and it has always been my desire for my children to be (at least) bilingual.  However, I had it stuck in my mind that they would have to learn a second language from someone other than me--ideally, at a dual-immersion school.  But ideally and reality seem to never agree, especially in a military family that moves every 1 to 3 years.
Last year as I began planning for my oldest’s upcoming Kindergarten year, for various reasons, I decided homeschool was the best option for us.  I tucked away the idea of immersion school and began the mad quest to gather all the information I could to figure out exactly how to homeschool. But the idea of bilingual education for my kids kept nagging at me.  I toyed with the idea of hiring a nanny to tutor the kids, which we could not afford.  I thought about starting my own immersion school -- not such a great idea considering the 1-3 year move schedule.  Finally, I had an “aha” moment, “Wait a minute, I am a trained bilingual teacher…Why can’t I homeschool my children bilingually?”  It seems logical, right?  Actually, it seemed terrifying to me.  I shifted gears from trying to figure out how to homeschool to how to bilingual homeschool.  I came across many wonderful resources, including Mommymaestra, which made the prospect not quite so terrifying.
We are now nearing the end of our first year of bilingual homeschooling.  There have been plenty of bumps along the way, but overall I would call it a success.  My goal for this year was to give my kids a good foundation of Spanish vocabulary and create excitement for learning the language—which we have met.  I thought it best to start small and build each year.  I have all our plans in place for next year when we will take on a more formal Spanish study and do part of our history, science, and geography in Spanish.  We are all very excited about the year to come!
The following are some bits of advice for other non-native speakers considering bilingual education.
Don’t feel like you have to be a master of the language or speak it perfectly to teach it to your children.  I hold to the belief that “something is better than nothing.”  Your children will benefit the most from as much exposure to the target language as possible.  They can work out the kinks in the finer points of grammar through formal study.
Set realistic goals according to your resources and language ability.  If the target language is spoken in your home all day, it is realistic to expect your children to output in the target language.  However, if your children are receiving very limited language exposure outside of their schoolwork, it is going to take much more time before they feel comfortable producing the target language.
If you only know a little of the target language, learn along with your children.  This is a great way to model to your children the joy of learning!
Remember, bilingual education doesn’t mean that every subject has to be taught in both languages.  Bilingual education can simply be studying a foreign language.  It can be studying one subject in the target language (Math is a great choice because numbers are the same in most languages).  You can incorporate as much or as little into your own school program.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
Finally, just as you don’t have to be a classroom teacher to be a good homeschool teacher, you don’t have to be a foreign language teacher to be a good bilingual homeschool teacher.  The most important qualification you have is that you know your children and how they learn best.  
!Buena suerte!

Heather Magnuson is a non-native Spanish-speaker, providing her two sons (ages 6 and 4) with a classical, Spanish-immersion homeschool education.  She is documenting their journey on her blog, Homeschool Aventuras

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Spanish App: ¡Alimentación!

This week, Tribal Nova (the fabulous developer behind the i Learn With suite of early childhood education apps) announced its newest app: I Learn with Bo: Nutrition! The app is designed to teach children healthy eating habits and how to create a balanced diet.

I'll share a review soon, but perhaps the most exciting thing to learn, is that it is also available in Spanish!  In fact, this is just the first app they are making bilingual; they are working to create Spanish versions of their previously released English apps. They've even launched a Spanish website just for i Learn With...or should I say, Aprendes con? (Not sure why it is not Aprendo con.)

Like the others this app will be FREE to download with the possibility for parents to unlock the full version with a single in-app purchase.

Anyway, take a look at some shots of their first Spanish app on nutrition...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Curious George Swings Into Spring

Winter is FINALLY gone and to celebrate, this Monday, PBS KIDS is airing a NEW one-hour special, "Curious George Swings Into Spring."

My family is so glad to see spring arrive. We've been spending every possible moment outside. The kids have been riding bikes and chasing butterflies, and I have been gardening and maintaining my bird feeders and nest boxes. So when I received a Curious George Swings Into Spring activity kit and screener in the mail (I'm a PBS KIDS ambassador), I was happy to see what was in it... tomato seeds and a bag of birdseed! Hurrah!

Materials You'll Need

Birdfeeder supplies:

But what was even better than that were the activity sheets that show how to build a bird feeder from a 2 liter plastic bottle, a pinwheel craft, and coloring page. And you can find all of them, too, by simply clicking the links above. This week, we looked at all of the activity sheets, and my kids decided they want to make a bird feeder. We cheated a wee bit and used a drill to make the holes, but used closed scissors to widen them. And we also found that using a long pipe cleaner is actually a lot easier to thread back through the holes in the bottom of the bottle. They're our favorite method for hanging bird feeders because the are strong, but easily bend. My daughter loved it so much she decided to set up a chair outside to watch the birds using it.

Seed Planting Supplies:

My son decided to create his own activity using the tomato seeds. He quickly gathered up some eggshells that were leftover from our cascarones-making extravaganza. We had carefully emptied and washed them, so he just stuck them in an egg carton, widened the hole a bit, and started pouring potting soil inside each one using a little funnel made out of paper. Then he planted the tomato seeds and watered them all down. I'll have to post an update once they start growing.

If you're looking for fun springtime activities to keep your kids busy, the ones I've linked to above are fun and educational. Or you can just let your child be creative and come up with his own ideas, like mine did.

Are your children old enough (or still young enough?) to enjoy Curious George? Mine still are, and after watching the episode, my son said with pleasure, "Oh, that was a really sweet show." And it is little remarks like that which keep me a loyal fan of PBS.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures {GIVEAWAY}

In honor of Earth Day, I'm giving away THREE redemption codes for the wonderful app, Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures - LIONS. You can read the full review of the app that I did back in November.

My kids seriously love this app and still play with it now, even though we've had it for months. Their favorite part? The section that allows you to build your own crazy animals using body parts from different ones.


NWF has offered to giveaway a free download of this app to three MommyMaestra readers!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 22nd. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow Ranger Rick Magazine (@RangerRickMag) on Twitter.

2) Follow the 
RangerRick FB page.

3) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a free download of the new app Ranger Rick Appventures:LIONS from @LatinMami & @RangerRickMag #giveaway

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is available to readers outside the United States.

¡Buena suerte!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Role Do You Play In Your Child's Financial Literacy?

It absolutely astounds me that financial literacy is not taught in most schools. Instead, if we want our children to be financially literate, the responsibility falls on our own shoulders. For many of us, we simply purchase our kids a piggy bank. Other times, lessons happen during teachable moments

But how many parents really teach their children about managing money wisely? How many show their children how to put some money aside for savings, some for giving, and some for spending? Who teaches their daughter what interest is? Who teaches their son about balancing a budget?

This post contains affiliate links.

Well, a recent study released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) suggests that affluent Hispanic moms, with household incomes greater than $100,000, are working to be financially responsible, while striving to flawlessly manage all the household responsibilities. Yet, like many, they’re concerned about the state of their families’ finances and at times don’t know where to turn for help.  Like some moms, they too are trying to actively educate their children about finances and involve them in the family budgeting.

I would hazard to guess that this is not just Latina moms with household incomes over $100,000. I can honestly say that my husband and I don't make over $100,000 yet (hey, we might someday!), but I do know that we're trying to be financially responsible. And teaching our kids how to be responsible with money and become financially literate IS something we are actively working on. 

And yet, I can totally relate to 34% of the Hispanic moms in the study, who feel like they should be doing more to save for the future, but right now are struggling to just get by. I see our money just flowing right our of our bank account; medical bills, house payments, utilities, groceries, and gas, not to mention clothing for two growing kids, school supplies and classes just gobble it all up.

Take a look at this infographic that best explains the results of the study:

All of it is fascinating, but the thing that catches my eye the most is that last section which shows that on average, Latina moms are starting to educate their kids about finances when the latter are about 6.9 years old. This is probably a good age, and just a little older than mine were when I first created their three banks. But I think I was late and should have started sooner. 

When we go shopping, my kids always wind up asking me to buy them something. Sometimes I do, but usually I don't. It's because I want them to start thinking about the value of it. I tell them they can save their money and buy it on their own. Because I want them to work hard so that their satisfaction is that much greater when they use their own money to buy something. And because I want them to think carefully about what they spend their money on.

A few years ago, I read somewhere about creating three banks: One for saving, one for giving, and one for spending. I really liked the idea, so that's what we did. My daughter has done a great job of saving up money. She quickly learned to put a portion away, and eventually saved up almost $200 that she wanted to use to buy a dairy cow. Don't laugh. Because we did. (Aha! Now that picture up top makes sense!)

Anyway, my point in writing this whole article is to encourage you as a mom, to start thinking about how you are going to teach your child to be financially literate...and responsible. Their future depends on your thoughtful guidance. So sit down and figure out your strategy, then implement it. You'll be glad you did!

If you are looking for a few resources to help you begin teaching financial literacy, take a look at these...

Online Resources that Teach Financial Literacy

  • Banzai - a FREE online program that offers multiple education games to teach students ages 8-12, 13-18, and 16+. The best part? They are available in English AND SPANISH.
  • Rich Kid, Smart Kid - online games that teach smart money management.
  • MoneyTime - an online course for kids age 10-14. You can purchase a monthly subscription or pay an annual fee.
  • Juni - finance, investing, and entrepreneurship courses for kids ages 9-18. 

Books for Kids

Curricula & Downloads

Online curricula:

TpT Downloadable Lessons:

Kits & Games

Cashflow for Kids is a great board game to teach kids ages 6 to 10 money management skills.

And, finally, this kit from Dave Ramsey for kids ages 3 to 11:

featured image credit: © Can Stock Photo - dolgachov

Monday, April 15, 2013

Junot Díaz on Twitter for First Time

Today is for the mamis who love to read. For more information or to RSVP, click here.
NOTE: This Twitter Party has been POSTPONED in light of the Boston Marathon tragedy. We'll reschedule, probably for next week.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day #5 of the Día Blog Hop: Joe Cepeda On Illustrating and Writing

I am so pleased to share with you today, illustrator and author, Joe Cepeda's, personal article that talks about his own childhood and how he feels about what he does. Reading all of the articles in the #L4LL Día Blog Hop is a moving experience and I hope that you, too, will find joy in reading what these authors have to say. Please feel free to leave a comment for Mr. Cepeda, or to enter your school library (or local library!) in the giveaway by leaving a comment on this, and every other blog in the blog hop.

As someone who makes his living illustrating books (even having written one), I’d like to tell you that I was raised in a home where the thirst for reading was rich and vibrant and that we were so hungry for the written word that we’d read anything that we could get our hands on.  It would certainly be nice to tell you that my family spent hours and hours at the East Los Angeles Public Library foraging for books, laughing and chatting it up with our good friend, the nice gentle librarian, then strolled happily down the cracked and crooked sidewalks all the way home with piles of books lovingly wrapped in our arms. At dinnertime we all sat at the table telling stories. That, under the warm light of our simple kitchen, we listening eagerly and patiently to one another, quoting passages and sharing the excitement and drama that lied within the pages of our wonderful books.  It would be delicious to say how the legacy of books and their hidden treasures was a sweet dessert we filled ourselves with on a daily basis.

As you might be guessing, such was not truly the case. The only bookcase in our home was small, with three shelves...and held as many knick-knacks as it did books and unintentionally, perhaps symbolically though, was a little removed, away in the far corner of my parent’s bedroom.

We were by no means a family of scholars.  We came from simple roots, (although my mom’s stepfather was a self-taught engineer toy-maker carpenter public-attorney Marxist in Durango, Mexico... but he was the exception).  My brother, sister, and I went to school and did our homework... or didn’t.  We played baseball, stayed out ‘til dark and were not much different from our neighbors.  Each day was met with largely simple and clear struggles.  We were sometimes yellers and screamers like a lot of families on our block and like in my fathers case, whose education went as far as the third grade and didn’t have a lot of book knowledge to draw upon, we sometimes never said a thing.

We weren’t a well-read bunch.  It wasn’t a horrible place to grow up, it just wasn’t the most literary household.  Then, almost by happenstance (at least it seemed that way from my point of view) there was a change, small and incidental... yet momentous like the shifting of tectonic plates.

A door-to-door salesman came to our home one day.   He must have been a great salesperson because my mom was not one easily swayed. Yet, he convinced her, a woman working as a teacher’s aide, to let go of some of her hard-earned money. It wasn’t vacuum cleaners or Fuller brushes he was vending.  Soon after his visit, the curios and the few dust-covered books on our little bookcase made way for the 1969 edition of the World Book encyclopedia.  Brand-spanking new! Not a lot of brand new things made it into our home.  It was green and white with shiny gold-edged pages on each pebbly-textured volume.

Like an unknown siren calling hypnotically from a cliff, the next thing I knew I was sprawled across my parent’s bed slowly opening that first leathery cover, listening to it crack as I took in that smell that wafts up from a new book.

I started one day at volume A and sometime later... days, maybe weeks, I’m not really sure how long it took me, eventually I paged through the whole set, A to Z.  I make no claim, of course, to have read an entire encyclopedia from front to back like some super-genius, but glimpses and flashes of the outside world poured into my head with every turn of the page like a slow steady rain.  I never knew what a mallard duck looked like, but there it was. That funny looking building, the Taj Mahal, had no place in my brain before then... nor did the flags of the world, some answers to the mysteries of the human body, and the principle and workings of a simple lever.  The contents of those heavy books were not exactly poetry or elegant prose or fantastic storytelling, but it got me started reading in a whole different way.

Our house never really filled up with books, and the joy of reading wasn’t exactly a new thing to me, but, maybe at that tender age it freed me just a bit.  Like the first time I rode around the block on my bike by myself, zooming over new and different sidewalks, waving at fresh new faces.  The outside world and its discovery was just that much more in my control, letter by letter, page by page, volume by volume.  What I found in books took me to places that I’d never before imagined and has done that all my life.

Illustrating and writing stories has done something else.  I’ve illustrated city stories, farm stories, stories from Africa, a book about heaven and even a story that takes place in a bathtub. One day, I look forward to illustrating some epic saga.... perhaps a Viking story or one set in the future.  Yet, inevitably, and not necessarily by design... a life making books and picture-making comes round to making pictures that feel like home, not necessarily in a literal sense, but in the sense that is the most human thing to share a story.  Not so much about what you’re sharing as much as how you share it.  It all comes back home.  It all comes back to what I tell the young people I meet at school visits... wherever you come from, whether your place is small and humble, or grand and fanciful, if chaos runs rampant, or you live in utter doldrums... your story is worth telling.  The challenge lies in the beauty and poetry of it.  When I started speaking publicly I was anxious and eager to share what I did. I talked about painting, composition, visual storytelling skills and creative prowess and all that. Yet, eventually, after doing this for a while it became apparent to me that working as an illustrator is about who I am... something that all along was much harder for me to share.  Stories and books started me on that path, as did a set of encyclopedias.

Joe Cepeda received his BFA in Illustration from California State University, Long Beach in 1992 and also studied Engineering at Cornell University.  He is the illustrator of award-winning picture books such as What a Truly Cool World (Scholastic), Nappy Hair (Knopf), Mice and Beans (Scholastic) including The Swing (Arthur A. Levine Books), which he wrote as well as illustrated.  Mr. Cepeda has illustrated books written by numerous notable authors including Gary Soto, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Arnold Adoff, Monica Brown, Julius Lester and most recently, Toni Morrison.  He has also illustrated book jackets for many titles, including Esperanza Rising.  He was selected to illustrate the cover of Shaquille O’Neal and Reading is Fundamental’s Biggest Book in the World.  Mr. Cepeda received an ALA 2002 Pura Belpre’ Honor Award and the Recognition of Merit Award for 2000 from the George G. Stone Center for Children’s Books.  His work has been accepted to the Society of Illustrators shows in New York and Los Angeles. In addition to his illustrative work, Mr. Cepeda is sought after as a public speaker to schools and other groups. He is the current president of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles.  He lives in Southern California with his wife and son.

The Giveaway

L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles (as well as the blog hop SCHEDULE) here on the L4LL website.

To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below. Don't forget that you can enter it every day on a different blog! That's 20 chances to win!

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we'll have to choose someone else!)

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina

I'm so excited to review this book during Latina's 4 Latino Literature and Mommy Maestra's launch of the Blog Hop with Latino authors and illustrators! Diego and I have been reading Monica Brown's bilingual book Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combinaover and over. 

We identify with the book, especially Diego (Mexican-American born in Japan)! Insisting on taking tortillas to school with his ham and cheese, Diego loves how Marisol, a little Peruvian-Scotish-American girl, spreads peanut butter on her burrito! She doesn't care what people will say, she does things her way, a little mixing and matching from both her parents' cultural influences and her American upbringing. Not everyone is so understanding of Marisol's differences though. Her red hair and brown skin don't "match." Even her cousin doesn't get it! She chooses to wear polka-dots with stripes, uses print and cursive handwriting together, and her ideas of playtime and art are different too. Marisol starts to believe that she should just be like everyone else, until her teacher writes her a special note pointing out the importance of her uniqueness. 

Oh, how Diego loves that the teacher is also multi-cultural (he is convinced she is half Japanese). Her heartfelt note to Marisol hits close to home. I really appreciate that the author included that being bilingual is special too. Marisol goes on her way to surprise the readers with yet another unique choice. You have to get the book to find out! This had us both laughing out loud.

The illustrator, Sara Palacios, does an incredible job with the art work. Not only is the text in Spanish and English, but the pictures include a sprinkle of Spanish notes taped to the refrigerator in Marisol's house, English labels on her food products, and cazuelas acting as "souvenirs" from Peru; it reminds me of our home!


Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combinais a great book for multi-cultural families, bilingual homes or for anyone who often feels a little unique. Diego and I recommend it wholeheartedly! Enjoy!

Disclosure: Amazon links are my Amazon affiliate links. 


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The #L4LL Día Blog Hop Starts TODAY

Joy of joys! Today marks the first day of the (Latinas4LatinoLiterature) #L4LL Día Blog Hop! 20 amazing Latino children's authors and illustrators paired with 20 Latina bloggers (yes, MommyMaestra is on the schedule!) for 20 days of celebrating Latino children's literature and literacy. There are two posts up over on the #L4LL site, so head on over to read them.

I've neglected MommyMaestra a bit the last week, mainly because I was so busy trying to make sure all the articles were in and to their bloguera partners. Phew! It was well worth the effort because you will NOT want to miss a single one! The articles are moving, inspiring, and joyful. I can't tell you how many times I started crying while reading one. Okay, a bit much, but it is really just so FANTASTIC to see such collaboration among people and the sincere love that these authors have for our children. If I could bottle all that up and give it to every single Latino child in this country, not a single one of them would struggle with literacy. Not one.

And for all you parents and teachers, there is an extra bonus. In addition to the amazing articles, there's also a major giveaway that you don't want to miss. 

Seriously, get over there and enter your school or local library.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tech Tuesday: A New Bilingual Wubbzy App


How many of your children have watched the show "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" on television? I haven't seen the show, but apparently they have a line of apps. And starting today, Wubbzy's Space Adventure will now be available in Spanish, too. Kids will have the option of choosing which language they want to hear or read. The app features three reading models: Three reading modes: Just a Book, Read to Me, and Read & Play.

Their other apps will soon be available in Spanish, too, including Wubbzy’s Pirate Treasure, Wubbzy’s Train Adventure and Wubbzy’s Dinosaur Adventure among others.

Here's a peek at the app (in Spanish):

Monday, April 8, 2013

The First Ever Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop

Just in case you missed the big announcement this weekend, I'm happy to share the news with you about the first Día Blog Hop. I am so excited to be a part of this extraordinary event! I hope you'll follow along every day, starting this Wednesday on the Latinas for Latino Literature website.

Día de los Niños Blog Hop

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Explore Immigration with My Diary from Here to There

The following was originally written on the Latin Baby Book Club. 

My Diary from Here to There 
by Amada Irma Pérez
illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez

With immigration reform such a hot topic nationally, I wanted to share this book with you. If you haven't read it, you should. It has personalized the issue for my children in a way that I'm not sure I could have done just by explaining what is being discussed on the news.

A Children's Picture Book on the Immigration Experience

My Diary from Here to There is actually based on the author's own true story. Pérez chronicles her own childhood experience of leaving her home in Ciudad Juárez after her father loses his job. To support the family, he decides to move them to California. But as he leaves to find work, Amada and her brothers and mother must stay with relatives. The book gives us an intimate look at Amada's thoughts and emotions, as she writes passages in her diary. It is immediately apparent that she enjoys a close and tender relationship with her father, who she thinks about daily, anxiously awaiting his letters while he is gone looking for work.

Gonzalez's illustrations are vibrant and active. You can see and feel the wind whipping Amada's hair back as they get in their car and drive away from home. And when she curls up under her blankets to write in her diary by flashlight, you can feel her soft socks and the warmth coming from her sleeping brother.

The book includes full text in both English and Spanish. It is best suited for children ages 4 and older.

I am really glad to see more and more Latino children's authors, sharing their own immigrations stories in books for children. What a valuable lesson they provide, helping to humanize an otherwise cold topic.

Parents and teachers, this is a great book to read when studying immigration, family relationships, leaving home, family responsibility, and more.

Purchase your copy here:


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