Part of my re-vamped bilingual storytime plan included monthly visits to read bilingual stories at one of our elementary schools. This school has the highest number of Hispanic kids and ELL families, and the school librarian agreed to let me come read to every single K, 1, and 2 class during library time the last week of each month. I love reading to older kids, and I was super excited to share stories in Spanish, highlight Hispanic authors and illustrators, and make some more connections with the kids.
I figured I could probably bank on at least one kid in each class knowing who I am, and fortunately I was right (although some just remembered me as “the lady who wore the costume“). Most classes had at least one kid who knew a little Spanish, and my favorite part was watching their eyes light up when I spoke to them in Spanish and seeing the pride on their faces as they told me that they/their dad/grandma/mom/uncle speaks Spanish too!
So here’s what we’ve done so far:
Estamos en un libro by Mo Willems (translation of We are in a book!)
The first month I cheated, but really, how else can I be guaranteed to win the affection of 180 squirrelly kids in 10 minutes? I had to go with Elephant & Piggie. Highlights included:
Kid asking, “How do you know Spanish?” (suspiciously)
Me, after the book ended: How do you say banana in Spanish?
Me: Ha ha, I made you say it!***
Niño wrestles the world by Yuyi Morales
They next month we moved on to a Mexican author. After replaying my banana/plátano joke from the Elephant & Piggie book (seriously, never gets old), we talked about how Yuyi Morales is an author from Mexico who writes books that are in English AND Spanish and how we have lots of books like that at the library.
One kid shouted, “I’m Mexican!” and was so excited and all the other kids were really impressed. Lots told me they speak Spanish and showed off, from an actual conversation with a bilingual kid to someone studiously counting to ten and saying hola. It was great.
One kid’s eyes grew wide and asked, “have you met her?” I said yes (which isn’t really true; I heard her speak last year and it was phenomenal, but I gave the kid the abridged version) and they were quite impressed.
Then, I read the book. I LOVE this book, and the kids did too, and took delight in guessing the surprise ending.
When I read the page about La Llorona I usually stuck pretty close to just the text and didn’t go into too much detail about the legend. Lots of the Mexican kids had at least heard of La Llorona and recognized her, but unfortunately one decided to fill in the gaps for me. She explained to the entire class that La Llorona steals kids at night when they are sleeping, and two other girls started crying from fear. Ooops. Not my best moment.
Finally, one little boy who only spoke to me in Spanish the entire time asked me if I was going back to the library, if the library would be open after school, and informed me that he would be in that night to get some books. I call that a win.
***for you non-children’s librarian readers, the characters make the reader say the word banana. It’s hilarious. You know what? Just check out the book and read it.