Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The 2020 Pura Belpre Award Winners

Aaannnd... they're out! This past Monday, the Pura Belpré Award winners were announced. If you are on the hunt for amazing books about the Latino experience and written or illustrated by Latinos, this is the list of the year that you don't want to miss.

I've listed them below with descriptions and age ranges. Click on the titles to see their Amazon page.

Congratulations to all the talented winners!

This post contains affiliate links.

2020 Author Award Winner  

by Carlos Hernandez

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal's office for the third time in three days, and it's still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany's locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.
Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he's capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken--including his dead mother--and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There's only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
Ages 8 - 12

2020 Illustrator Award Winner

 illustrated by Rafael López
written by Margarita Engle

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?
Ages 4 - 8

2020 Author Honor Books

by Angela Cervantes

Lety Muñoz's first language is Spanish, and she likes to take her time putting her words together. She loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don't care if she can't always find the right word.

When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles -- so now they have to work as a team. Hunter's not much of a team player, though. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. Whoever helps get their animals adopted the fastest wins. The loser scoops dog food.

Lety reluctantly agrees, but she's worried that if the shelter finds out about the contest, they'll kick her out of the volunteer program. Then she'll never be able to adopt Spike, her favorite dog at the shelter!
Ages 8 - 12

by Rebecca Balcárcel

One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana's Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn't know more about her family's heritage.

One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she's found true friends. But she can't help the growing feelings she has for Jayden.

One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what's going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother.
Ages 10 - 14

by Anika Aldamuy Denise 
illustrated by Paola Escobar

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.
Ages 4 - 8

written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.
Ages 6 - 8

2020 Illustrator Honor Books

illustrated and written by Carlos Aponte

Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.
Ages 3 - 7

illustrated by Zeke Peña
written by Isabel Quintero

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she's always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.
Ages 4 - 8

illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez

Bilingual in a new way, this paper over board book teaches readers simple words in Spanish as they experience the bustling life of a border town. Follow Little Lobo and his dog Bernabe as they deliver supplies to a variety of vendors, selling everything from sweets to sombreros, portraits to piñatas, carved masks to comic books!
Ages 4 - 7

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Art for Tweens & Teens: Inky Art School

Homeschoolers! Do you have a budding artist in your home? Are you looking for a short series of fun lessons for them to do (preferably taught by someone else, perhaps online)? Oh, and for FREE?

Let me tell you about my latest obsession.

Have you heard of Johanna Basford? She's the Scottish artist who essentially created the adult coloring book craze. And she's also created Inky Art School.

I stumbled upon her by chance and am now completely obsessed - not with her coloring books, but her online 10-day art class based on her latest book, How to Draw Inky Wonderlands (aff link). The book basically teaches you how to draw many of the images in her books. But you don't HAVE to have the book to follow along. She provides free downloads if you want them. Or you can just DRAW.

I'm currently on Day 6 of Inky Art School, and I love the techniques she teaches. I've often struggled to find the right illustrations or graphics for my printables and books. A few times, I've created my own, but I agonized over them. After watching this and just trying the techniques, I think I finally have the confidence to do more of them.

Johanna is a fun and easy teacher. She actively shows you how to create images and encourages you to be creative and expand upon what she's taught.

You can find all of the episodes, downloads, materials and more here on her website. Don't worry! You don't have to go and buy a lot of stuff! The main things you need are paper, pencil, eraser, and a felt-tipped pen. I went ahead and bought the Layout Paper that she recommends and I LOVE it way better than the tracing paper I was using. (I didn't even know it existed and am so happy with it!)

So if you have a young artist looking to gain confidence and learn new techniques, this is a must-do. Each episode is around one hour long. And you can pause it as often as you want, rewind it, or whatever while you practice and draw along with her.

Watch the trailer for Inky Art School...

If you're looking for more art resources, check out these on MommyMaestra:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Goya's Culinary Arts Scholarships

Heads up! Do you know a college freshman majoring in Culinary Arts or Food Sciences?

If so, make sure they know about Goya's Culinary Arts Scholarships! The annual (and renewable!) scholarships are for full-time study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university of the student’s choice.

Each year, students are awarded $5,000 and may be renewed three more times for a total of $20,000!

But you need to act fast because the application deadline is February 17, 2020.

To be eligible to apply for the scholarship, you must meet the follow criteria:

  • Be a United States citizen, a legal permanent resident, or a student granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • U.S. citizens must provide a copy of their birth certificate, U.S. passport, certificate of citizenship or naturalization certificate.
  • Permanent residents must provide a copy of their current permanent resident card or a current passport stamped I-551.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) must provide a copy of their DACA approval letter.
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or its equivalent.
  • Candidates must be obtaining their first undergraduate degree.
  • Must be willing to complete 10 hours per month of community service.
  • Must be entering an accredited two-year or four-year institution as freshmen and majoring in a full-time Culinary Arts or Food Sciences program for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Applicants may also be children of a Goya employee, broker, or independent driver provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Biblioburro: Lesson Plans, Videos, Books & More

Biblioburro Lesson Plans, Videos, Books

Do you know about Luis Soriano? Are you looking for resources to teach about this remarkable man who travels far and wide the mountains of Colombia on his little burro to deliver books to children in remote villages?

His story came across my desk once more this morning and I started thinking that I should share some resources for his inspirational story. So here you go!

This post contains book affiliate links.

Printable Activities & Lesson Plans:




Below are the two children's books that I love. I'm starting with Monica Brown's "Story Behind the Story," in which she shares how she was inspired to write Waiting for the Biblioburro (aff link). This post was originally published first on the Latin Baby Book Club, which is no longer available online.

By Monica Brown
Illustrated by John Parra

The Story Behind the Story
by Monica Brown

I love librarians.  Like me, (and I’ll bet you too if you are reading this), librarians are book people. Book people find joy between the pages of a book, but their passion doesn’t stop there. True book people must share books with others. They believe that placing books in young hands and sharing stories with young minds is meaningful. Luis Soriano is a book person. Luis first came to my attention when I read the New York Times article, “Acclaimed Colombian Institution has 4,800 books and 10 legs” by Simon Romero. Fascinated, I did some research and came across Valentina Canavesio’s short film Biblioburro—The Donkey Library. The story filled me with joy and not a little pride in the resourcefulness and passion of the Latino culture that Luis and I share. Growing up, Luis Soriano did not have the benefit of extensive formal studies and unlimited financial resources. What he did have was vision—and two donkeys named Alfa and Beto. For years, Maestro Soriano has delivered books in rural Colombia to children who don’t have access to libraries. Some don’t even have teachers or schools. But Luis, who received his school degree at 16, and then became a teacher and librarian, has made it his life’s work to change that.

When I wrote Waiting for the Biblioburro, I didn’t want to presume to tell Luis’s story for him, so I created a fictional story inspired by his, from the perspective of a little girl whose life he changes. I contacted Mr. Romero, the writer, and Ms Canavesio, the filmmaker, and through them, reached Luis himself. I knew as I was writing this book that I wanted Luis’s blessing 
— I was lucky enough to get it, and to get to know Luis over the phone and through emails. I also wanted to make sure that his foundation shared in the profits from this work, which my publisher made happen. When I first spoke to Luis over the phone and across thousands of miles, I was felt that I was in the presence of greatness—he is great man with a great heart. Luis shared with me his wish to sow the seeds of creativity and to cultivate dreams in the minds of children.

After talking with Luis, I felt inspired to write an imaginative rendering of Luis’s legacy — a legacy not only of literacy, but of sharing one’s own stories with the world. My story is about a creative little girl named Ana who loves books and reading, but who doesn’t have access to a library, books, or even a teacher.  It’s her story of waiting, discovery, and finding a voice.

I hope that Ana’s story, like Luis Soriano’s vision, will inspire us all to be literacy workers and activist librarians, teachers, parents, and friends. What would you do to bring books to children?  Would you ride a donkey for miles, risking attack and robbery? Would you build a library with your own hands? Luis Soriano did. And we can too. 

Watch the book trailer:

OR you can watch the book being read aloud by Brightly Storytime:

Be sure to visit Monica at

** MommyMaestra note: If you visit Monica's website you can download a curriculum guide for her book for free!

by Jeanette Winter

What a treasure this little book is! Biblioburro is based on the true story of Luis Soriano, a bibliophile and school teacher, whose desire to share the beauty of words with others takes him on a selfless mission throughout the isolated villages of northern Colombia. In 2000, Luis began carrying books to the people in remote areas of his country. His initial collection of 70 books has grown to over 4,800!

Winter tells the joyful story of how Luis began his work and some of his experiences as the mobile "librarian" who delivers books with the help of his burros, Alfa and Beto.

Winter's folk-like artwork is - as usual - a visual treat for children, and captures the tropical setting beautifully. My own children enjoyed drawing scenes and characters from this book after reading it.

Other Posts You May Enjoy Reading

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Encouragement for Parents with Children Reluctant to Learn Spanish

© Can Stock Photo - creatista

My oldest son ended our fall semester at our homeschool co-op with a C in Spanish... and that's only because he participated in class and that was factored into the grading!

I'm telling you this because the truth is for some of us, it's hard passing on our heritage language. Even though Spanish was my first language and was spoken most of the time at home, once I started going to all-English schools and - most significantly - once my great-grandmother passed away, Spanish wasn't spoken all that often. And I was certainly never formally taught it. 

So although I understand it perfectly and can speak it well enough (I do make a lot of mistakes at times), Spanish hasn't been something that I easily passed on to my kids. 

Maybe you feel the same way?

When my kids were little, we did a lot of Spanish. I have bookshelves bulging with Spanish-language and bilingual books. I read to them in Spanish all the time because I wanted their ears to hear the nuances of the language and my daughter had excellent pronunciation (and still does). She currently takes Spanish in high school at a private school and is getting A's. We're planning on her going to Spain this summer to stay with my family, which should be a really great experience for her and help her to improve her Spanish.

But that middle kid has resisted me the whole long way. 

We've tried so many homeschool Spanish curricula and classes. And I thought, well, maybe he just doesn't want to learn it from ME. So I signed him up for Spanish in our new homeschool co-op that we attend each week. Pero nada. His teacher says he's a great kid, but he totally bombed the tests. And I would beat my head against the wall every week helping him with his Spanish homework. 

So this semester we are doing something different and so far, I'm hopeful. Now he is doing Duolingo on a daily basis. And I haven't had to help him once. And he doesn't resist when I ask him to get it done. He even does it on his own without me asking!

I'm hoping to mix in some Spanish for You! lessons as we go along this semester. I'll let you know how this goes.

But I wanted to share all this because so often people say, "Oh! You're MommyMaestra! You've raised bilingual kids! You know how to do it. Tell me how." Ummm, no. I've never claimed to be an expert on raising bilingual kids. I struggle with it just as so many of you do. But I am always happy to research your dilemmas and help you find answers so that we can all learn from them. 

And I wanted to tell you: Don't give up. 

Don't give up because your kid refuses to learn. Don't give up because they're "too old." Don't give up because it's so hard. 

Sometimes you just have to keep trying different ways until you stumble upon the best program or practice for your kid.

I hope I've finally stumbled upon the one that works for my middle kid.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Free Download: Spanish-Speaking Countries Word Search

It's a new year, a new decade, and a new opportunity to learn a new language. Will you be teaching your middle schooler a foreign language this year? Have you settled on Spanish? Are you looking for a great curriculum that teaches the language in manageable chunks? Maybe you are wanting a Spanish curriculum that helps with pronunciation because you aren't a Spanish-speaker yourself or your Spanish is a little rusty!

If any of the above sounds like you, then you must check out MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You! They've been supporting MommyMaestra for several years now and even if they didn't, I would be recommending them for your children because they have so many great lessons. 

I ALWAYS say that before you buy a curriculum, you should visit their website and look at or download their sample lessons. In the case of Spanish for You!, you can click on the link in the bottom paragraph and take a look at all the free samples they've shared with MommyMaestra readers over the year. When you fall in love with them, you can go buy their program, which is available in compact, affordable, themed packages. Just pick the one you want to try first and go!

This month's freebie is all about Spanish-speaking countries. The two-page file contains vocabulary in Spanish for the countries where the language is spoken. Your young Spanish learners can practice with the word search and simple worksheet that teaches phrases, countries and geographic regions. And, yes, an audio file is included to help you 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!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Printable Día de los Reyes Resources

Will your family be celebrating Día de los Reyes Magos on Monday? If so, be sure to check out my post that lists TONS of resources for exploring and celebrating the holiday. You'll find everything from books to music to videos.

I also have several printables, such as the one shown above of reading passages, coloring pages, and letter templates that you may enjoy, too. You can find them in my TpT store and my MommyMaestra online shop.

My favorite activity for the holiday is this Reyes Writing Activity. It is part of the decorations packet that you can use to decorate your house or classroom. Do you put your shoes at the end of your bed or do you set out a box of hay for the Magi's camel? If it is the latter, you'll enjoy the printable coloring sheets to use to decorate your box!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Free Printable Bilingual 2020 Resolution Worksheet for Kids


That's my word for 2020. A new year. A new decade. And I believe that anything is possible... especially in my own life. I simply have to believe it and so, for this coming year, I believe that what I want is possible. I can be productive, successful, and financially stable even with a 2-year-old in the house.

I have a billion ideas that are always blooming in my head. So many great ventures waiting for some attention. They just need some energy behind them.

There are other goals on my list for this year. I need to develop my time management skills. I want to work on my patience. I'd like to read this book. And I want to learn more about Latin American countries, their customs, traditions, and people.

My annual resolution charts have already been printed and are ready for my two older kids to fill out today. I don't really like the word resolution, though. Think of these more as goal worksheets. Resolutions, too often, are abandoned within a few weeks. We can't guarantee that everything no our worksheets will get done, but it certainly gives us something to work towards.

This year, I've decided to hang the worksheets in a place where we can see them throughout the year. I've always placed them in our homeschooling binders, but I've decided this isn't visible enough. I need to be reminded of my goals, and I think my kids do, too.

So if you'd like to use this printable with your own children, you can download it free below. The file contains both an English and a Spanish worksheet.

Happy New Year!