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Archive for the ‘books’ tag

January 8th, 2013 at 5:01 am

A bilingual family’s New Year’s resolutions

It’s been six and a half years since I started raising bilingual children. I’m very happy with the results so far as my 6 1/2-year-old daughter is fluent in both English and Spanish and my 3-year-old son is well on his way. But there are some things I definitely want to change and since it’s the beginning of the year, I figured what better time to do so. I guess you could consider these my bilingual family’s New Year resolutions.

The first thing I want to change has to do with reading — one of the best ways to expose kids to the minority language. My daughter is an avid reader and can read in both languages better than I ever expected her to do so at her age. So I’m not worried about her.

The one I’m really concerned about is my boy. I hate having to admit that if I’ve read him half the books I read his sister by the time she was 3, I might be exaggerating. Life is so different when you have more than one child and it seems like by bedtime there’s never enough time to read. That’s why as of yesterday, I’ve started to read to him during the day. Way before bedtime. That way we’re not rushed and I can read him more than just one book.

The second thing I’m doing is going back to only allowing my kids to play apps in Spanish whenever I let them use my iPad or iPhone. I was pretty lax during the holidays and I let them play on these devices a lot more than usual. I’m cutting down on total use and so I’ve erased most of the apps that are not in Spanish.

Finally, I want to make sure I’m exposing them to as much music in Spanish as possible. My kids LOVE music and they both have CD players in their rooms, but most of their music is in English. Nothing wrong with that. I just plan on adding more Spanish options to the mix.

What are your family’s New Year’s resolutions?

Photo credit: dbrekke

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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October 24th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The Love of Reading


One of my most vivid memories from childhood is going to the local library with my dad, where I could choose as many books as I wanted for that week. Sometimes I would choose something new, such as a “how to draw” book, while other times I would want to re-read my favorite collections of Peanuts comics. It didn’t matter to Dad what I wanted to take home – as long as I was reading and enjoying it, it didn’t matter if I wanted to read a chapter book or a comic book.

To this day, I love to read and I want to pass that love along to my children. The library is the easiest way to do this – the books are free and I can check out as many as my children can read, or I can read to them, in 14-28 days.

This weekend, take a walk down to your local library and have everybody pick out a book they’d like to read (or have read to them). Your little one will love the children’s section, where books are stocked especially for them.  Remember, there is no such thing as “bad reading” – as long as your child is enjoying a book and getting a positive experience from it, it doesn’t matter what they read.  Help them find a book about something that interests them, whether it’s sports, animals or outer space. You might even help them choose a book with easy craft ideas or a children’s cookbook and do the activities with your child at home.

All you need to check out books is a library card. Don’t have one? Just go to the check-out desk to obtain one – they’re free! All you need is proof of residence in your county, so bring a piece of mail or something with your name and address on it.

But wait!  Libraries are no longer just buildings filled with books! Many now offer activities for young ones during the week. If you have a child who is a year or younger, you may be able to attend workshops designed to enhance your baby’s development with games, nursery rhymes and music.  If you have a slightly older toddler, take them to story hour. Not only will your little ones be exposed to language-building skills, you will be bonding with them as well. Have fun and happy reading!

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August 23rd, 2012 at 5:01 am

Bilingual Books for Back To School

It’s hard to believe, but the summer–or at least our children’s summer break–is about to come to an end. In fact, my children have been back in school since last week, but that’s because school starts in early August in my neck of the woods. In order to get my children back into the school routine and excited about a new school year, we started reading books about going back to school a couple of weeks before their first day back.

Let me share some of our favorite ones with you:

Spot va a la escuela by Eric Hill — Perfect for preschoolers. Like all other Spot books, this one includes simple text, colorful illustrations and flaps for children to lift to find out more information.

Cheech y su autobús escolar by Cheech Marin — This is one of my personal favorites, but that’s because I love Cheech Marin. This is a particularly great book if your children are taking the bus for the first time.

My School/Mi escuela by Ginger Foglesong Guy – A journey into everything that happens in one day of school. I think this one is great for children who are nervous about the typical things that go at school on any given day.

Rabbit and Turtle Go To School/Conejo y Tortuga van a la escuela by Lucy Floyd – Retells the old fable of the turtle and the rabbit but this time the race is on their way to school. The rabbit runs and the turtle takes the bus. Who will win this time?

Max va a la escuela by Adria F. Klein — Another exploration of what goes on in a typical day at school. This one is perfect for beginner readers like my daughter who likes to read it to her little brother.

Do your children have any favorites in English or Spanish that you’d like to share with us?

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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July 26th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Books About Summer For Bilingual Kids

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already more than a month into summer. My family and I are about to take a much needed and deserved summer vacation to the beach and so my kids and I have been reading a bunch of books about fun summer activities in preparation.

Here are some of the books we’ve been reading:

La lagartija y el sol/The Lizard and the Sun by Alma Flor Ada — I love legends and this one tells the story of a little lizard who does everything she can to bring back light and warmth to ancient Mexico after the sun disappears.

What can you do with a paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? Carmen Tafolla  — First of all, what Latino child hasn’t had a paleta (or popsicle) in the summer? This is the story of all the things children can do with a paleta which introduces readers to a Latino neighborhood and all its beauty and colorfulness.

Clifford y el verano caluroso by Norman Bridwell — My kids love Clifford so this book about the Big Red Dog dying of heat and trying to figure out how to cool off is a hit!

Un día en la playa/A Day at the Beach (Dora la Exploradora) by Lauryn Silverhart — Although I’m not the biggest Dora the Explorer fan, my kids like her and I like that this book in particular is about the beach because we’re about to go spend a few days by the ocean. So reading this book has opened up a world of conversations about the beach, the water, the waves, the seashells, etc.

What are your children’s favorite books about summer? 

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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June 28th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Bilingual Books to Celebrate Independence Day

I’ve always thought that those of us who are bilingual and bicultural have the best of both worlds. We are able to communicate with a lot more people than we would if we only spoke one language and we get to join the celebrations and holidays of both our cultures!

Although I was not born in the United States, my children and my husband were and so I’ve learned to celebrate the Fourth of July and enjoying going out to watch our town’s fireworks every year when this celebration comes around. As my children get older, I’m also trying to incorporate a little bit of the history behind this day and why it’s important we celebrate it.

As usual, I turn to my trusty books for help. Here are some of the ones we’ve been reading in our household lately:

Celebra el 4 de julio con Campeón, el glotón — Written by renown bilingual children’s authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, this one is about a family, their mischievous dog and a picnic at the park to celebrate the Fourth of July. Includes an informative section.

Yo también puedo ser presidente — Written by Yanitzia Canetti, this is a book full of hope for children of all races, backgrounds and cultures. Each page features a photograph of a child explaining why he or she could be president and they say things like because I take care of the planet or I love peace. Inspirational!

Fourth of July/Cuatro de Julio — This book belongs to a bilingual series about U.S. holidays and it introduces readers to this nation’s history. It also explains how the same holiday is observed by families and communities around the nation. I’m looking forward to checking out the other books in the series.

How do you teach your children about Independence Day? 

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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June 26th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Looking For a Good Summer Read? Check Out These Recommendation Sites

Read any good books lately? As a very busy mom, I long for time to get lost in a great read. Without that, if I’m going to risk sleep deprivation, I want whatever I choose to be so good that I’ll want to bring it with me everywhere, including the bathroom. Admit it, you’ve done that too.

There are lots of ways to choose what to read. Bestseller lists, friend recommendations, magazine reviews, kindle samples, and the book tables at Costco are just a few. And of course there are websites that can help. Here’s three that I find really useful.

Goodreads is a recommendation site that is really easy to use and fun. Pick the genres that you enjoy and the site gives you a list of the top books in each category. Rate the ones you’ve read and click on “want to read” for any on your list, and the page expands to list similar books as suggested next reads.

I had fun just going through the genres, rating and clicking. When you click on the recommendations link, you can continue to rate/want or you can simply choose “not interested”, and the results update accordingly. I could get so lost in this site.

The Staff Recommends is a site that keeps a simple approach. When you visit, there is a short list of current selections with reviews and a comments section. There’s also a list of past selections categorized by genre. So if you’re looking for a quick recommendation, without having to spend the time rating and browsing, this site fits the bill. And it’s not the regular list of bestsellers that you see in every other best reads list, so you might find some pleasant surprises.

I liked this site right away, because one of the current choices is a book that my good friend handed me a few weeks ago and said was a must read. I think it will be my next one.

The third site that piqued my interest is called Gnooks, which has a nifty feature called a literature map. Type in the name of an author and Gnooks will create a map of similar authors. The closer the author is to your original choice on the map, the higher the probability that you would also like him or her. Click on one of the other authors and a new map will be created.

Another feature uses three of your author choices to suggest additional ones. You can choose whether you like them, don’t like them or don’t know them. You are then presented with a list of Gnooks’ suggestions. This site is more about choosing writing styles than actual books. Clicking on an author will take you to discussions of threads. It also has a map feature for movies and music.

Gnook is based on the gnod search engine which uses artificial intelligence to provide suggestions based on what you and others like. It’s fun to watch the maps build and it’s intriguing how relevant the results are.

Happy reading! And please feel free to recommend a good one. I’m really enjoying Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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June 25th, 2012 at 12:01 am

Remember to Read this Summer

Summer is a great time to pick up a book…… while laying on the beach or at the pool, sitting at a picnic, or on a long road trip in the car. It is also a great time to get your kids to read and to read to them.

Have you checked out your local library for a summer reading program? My boys have loved to sign up for our library’s reading program. They get a fun checklist where they get a star each time they read a book for 20 minutes. Once they fill up 2 weeks of stars, they get a prize. We just collected our first prize and they were thrilled! It can be anything from free books, passes to kids events, or other local items.

I find bedtime during the summer is a little less structured and reading time sometimes gets forgotten. This is a great way to keep yourself in “check” to get some reading in during the summer days.

When I signed up the boys, they asked if I wanted to sign myself up for the adult program. I can read and win fun prizes all summer long too! Plus, it is great for the boys to see me reading as enjoyment.

Chuck E Cheese Summer Reading Program- Earn 10 free tokens

Scholastic Summer Reading Program - Log minutes to earn prizes

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Imagination’s Destination – Earn a free book by reading 8 books over the summer

Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge - Earn Free prizes by reading independently or together with a child

Soar with Reading - Log what you are reading, complete reading activities and check out what other kids around the United States are reading

PBS Kids Summer Reading Challenge – Win daily prizes with this FREE six week program

I’ve talked about our families love of reading before and some prizes just make it THAT much more fun to do! So, grab a book, sign up for a reading program and READ!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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June 14th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Bilingual Books to Celebrate Father’s Day

My husband is not huge on celebrations like his birthday or Father’s Day, but the kids are and so we’ll probably do something fun this Sunday. In preparation, I’ve been reading a few books to the kids related to dads and father’s day, which I’d like to share with you. But before I do that, I also wanted to share that a recent survey by Baby Center en Español found out that reading is not at the top of the list of things Latino dads like to do with their children. While I’m not surprised because this is true in my house, I am kind of sad.

I mean, I don’t remember being read to by my dad, but I will never forget he always had either a book or a newspaper in his hands. Always. The thing is that because most boys get read to by women — whether it be their mom, grandma, nanny, auntie or teacher — they eventually think it’s a girlie thing to do. And I don’t want that to happen in my household, so for Father’s Day, I’ll be asking my husband to read to our children more often. Maybe he’d like to read one of these books:

My Dad is the Best/El mejor es mi papá by Georgina Lázaro León — All kids think that and in this book, talented and well-known children’s author Georgina tells the story of a bunch of animals who are out to tell everybody why their dad is the best.

A gift from Papa Diego/Un regalo de papá Diego by Benjamin Alire Sáenz — A loving story about a boy who misses his grandfather who lives on the other side of the border and dreams with seeing him again. Fortunately, his dream comes true. ”A border is nothing for people who love,” the grandfather tells his grandson. Lots of lessons to be taught with this one.

The Perfect Bread/El Pan Perfecto by Adriana Pacheco — At home, we love any and all books by Heritage Language, a new bilingual publisher that has 5 English/Spanish books that include audio CDs. All books include the same characters and so this one is about the children’s grandfather and his hilarious attempts to make bread. Although it’s not about dads, it is about grandfathers and they are dads too!

What book do you like to read to your kids about Father’s Day?

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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May 10th, 2012 at 5:01 am

4 Bilingual Books to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner… In fact, if you’re Mexican, Salvadoran or Guatemalan, you’re actually celebrating Mother’s Day today! Yes, in case you didn’t know it, not every country in the world celebrated Mother’s Day the second Sunday in May. In Latin America, for example, this day is celebrated at the end of May, in September and even December!

Either way, I love reading books to my children that can help them better understand a celebration like this one or, better yet, the reason why we actually celebrate moms once a year. Here are some suggestions:

I’m Just Like My Mom; I’m Just Like my Dad by Jorge Ramos — Written by the well-known Univision journalist Jorge Ramos, this books is a true favorite at home. Although it’s not necessarily about Mother’s Day, it does tell a story of why children look and act like their parents.

Love to Mama: A Tribute to Mothers by Pat Mora — At home, we love prolific children’s author Pat Mora and this book is no exception! In it, you’ll find 13 poets writing about the awesome relationship between moms, grandmas and children. I love that the poets come from different Latin American countries! Yay for diversity!

Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio by Rigoberto Gonzalez — A bilingual book that explores the issue of non-traditional families. It tells the story of Antonio, a boy who loves words, but who’s having a hard time figuring out how to write a Mother’s Day card for his mom and her partner.

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos — Another favorite in my house because it beautifully tells the story that most children like to hear when they’re little. How was your life before they were born and you were preparing for their birth? An absolute must!

What are your suggestions?


Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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April 18th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

“Bilingual is Better:” A Book for Anyone Interested in Children and Bilingualism

In a bit of a departure from my usual posts, I’m here today tooting my own horn, but only for a very good cause. After spending the last few months of my life immersed in marathon writing and editing sessions, I think it’s only logical for me to share with all of you that my first book, Bilingual is Better, is now available for pre-order via Amazon and Barnes & Noble! I am elated beyond belief as this has been a labor of love for both me and my best friend and co-author with whom I started SpanglishBaby, our blog for parents raising bilingual and bicultural kids, a mere three years ago.

I say I’m sharing this with you for a good cause because the truth is that there’s not one thing about being bilingual that is not beneficial to everybody. Bilingualism opens all kinds of doors, from the professional to the cultural to the personal. My own life has been enriched by the fact that I speak two languages (actually three, if you count my French, in which I’m not as fluent, but I can still hold a full-fledged conversation with a French person). And now I’m making sure — against all odds — that I give my children the same gift I was given by my parents when I was younger.

Bilingual is Better is pretty much an extension of our blog and it’s a pretty personal book about how two Latina moms think the new bilingual parenting revolution is changing the face of America. Although it’s written by two bilingual and bicultural moms, we aimed to include something for everyone regardless of background, nationality or languages spoken. We’re extremely happy with the results and can’t wait to see what people think of our labor of love once they get their hands on it come September!

 What’s the one thing you’d like to know about bilingualism and children?

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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