bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Archive for May, 2009

Be an advocate of your child

Posted by bububooks on May 29, 2009

A few weeks ago, I heard Dr. Pauline Clardy, coordinator of the Bilingual/Bicultural Program at Illinois State University, speak about bilingual education in elementary schools.  She started by telling the story of a family who came to Illinois when the two children were in elementary school.  The parents were advised to speak only English at home and the children, a son and a daughter, were placed into English-only classes.  The daughter, who picked her English name to be Sarah, was eventually placed into a special education program, even though she did not have a learning disability.  She simply was not yet strong enough in English to use it as a vehicle to learn the other subjects in school.  In high school, Sarah spent most of her free time watching television and working at a fast food restaurant.  She had no intention of attending college.  The son did not finish high school and joined a gang.  The two kids had also grown apart from their parents once their English skills began to surpass those of their mom and dad. 

I may not have recounted the story exactly as Dr. Clardy told it, but the message is clear.  Maintaining native language skills helps your child to learn at school and promotes a family connection and cultural identity at home.

Unfortunately, too many teachers still recommend to parents that they only speak English at home. Families are broken apart and cultural traditions are lost when children’s native language and culture are ignored.  Children are not blank states; they begin learning as soon as they are born.  The best thing to do is to continue to build on the foundation you’ve already established.

ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD!  Don’t let the school take your child out of the English Language Learners program too early.  Wait until they are ready.  Get involved with the school and your child’s class.  Volunteer, join the PTA and the Bilingual Parents Advisory Council (BPAC).  You are your child’s first teacher…always.  Maintain the connection with your child through the ways most comfortable to you so that you will have a long lasting relationship.

Every culture values and respects teachers in different ways.  Latino families show respect by giving distance to teachers.  They view the teacher as the professional who knows what they are doing; they don’t need interference from parents.  From the view of the teacher, this respect comes across as lack of involvement and, perhaps, lack of interest.  To further exacerbate the issue, many monolingual teachers do not understand the needs of bilingual students while bilingual teachers are hired only for their language skills and are otherwise unqualified to teach.  Don’t be afraid to say something!  No one will look out for your child like you do.

To get more involved, share your cultural traditions with your child’s first teacher.  Offer books and other materials at home in your language as well as English.  Look online (i.e. other posts from this blog) for ways to interact with your child that will promote their learning and language skills.  Together, let’s ensure your child the brightest future he or she can get!

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Read with your children in whatever language you are most comfortable

Posted by bububooks on May 25, 2009

As summer approaches, now is as good a time as any to learn effective ways to read to or with your child.  It is absolutely OK to read to your child in your native language.  Doing so will not affect their ability to learn English.  Indeed, this exposure will better prepare them for language proficiency and reading skills as well as to learn languages in the future. 

Below are some tips for reading with elementary school kids:

Encourage your child to read another one
Find ways to encourage your child to keep reading.  If he or she likes one book, find another book with a similar subject or by the same author.  Ask a librarian or teacher (or email us at bububooks) for book suggestions.  

Take turns reading
Once your child can read, have him or her read aloud to you every day.  You can take turns: you read one page and your child the next.

Make connections to your child’s life
Help your child make connections between what he or she reads in books and what happens in life.  If you’re reading a book about a family, for example, talk about how what happens in the story is the same or different from what happens in your family.

Give your child an incentive to read
At bedtime, encourage your child to read.  Offer a choice between reading and sleeping.  Most kids will choose to read, as long as you don’t offer something more tempting (like TV).

Try different types of books and magazines
Encourage your child to read different types of books, articles or stories.  Some kids, especially boys, prefer nonfiction books.  Others like children’s magazines.

Turn on the closed captioning on your television
When watching a television show with your child, try turning on the closed captioning channel.  This shows the words the characters are speaking on the television screen.  Some people find it’s a good way to learn English!  Indeed, Laura likes to watch Chinese television this way (with Chinese characters as the subtitles) to practice her Chinese. 

The information presented in this blog was adapted from Colorín Colorado.  Find more information at www.colorincolorado.org.  

For books–all bilingual!–to read with your child this summer, visit us at www.bububooks.com.  

Happy Memorial Day.  Remember our veterans who valiantly serve so that we may live freely.

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Success at WBDC’s Child Care Business Expo

Posted by bububooks on May 21, 2009

Laura and Kia represented bububooks Saturday, May 16, 2009, at the Women’s Business Development Center’s Child Care Business Expo in Chicago, Ill.  We enjoyed great success and met many fantastic and amazing women entrepreneurs.

WBDC is an organization that helps women entrepreneurs to launch and grow their business ventures.  bububooks exhibited at WBDC’s 11th Annual Child Care Business Expo.  This Expo serves as “an energizing day of reflection and action, providing access to creative solutions to today’s business issues and to a much-needed network of resources and support.”  Women who have already opened a childcare center or plan to—either an in home or stand alone facility—attended the Expo, which was offered in both English and Spanish.  We were excited to be a part of this event, one that is “aggressively addressing the critical lack of quality child care in Illinois and providing business support to this booming industry sector.”

Kia and Laura met so many women and thought it was great to see so much support for bububooks.  Many instantly appreciated our mission and how it complements theirs.  We certainly had a great time connecting and sharing our story and vision!  Even monolingual women or women whose children are mostly monolingual shared their appreciation for the cultural exposure these books offer.  We had a lot of fun, nearly cleaned out our inventory, learned a lot, and, hopefully, made an impact.

Thank you for your enduring support and encouragement.  We wish all the ladies tremendous success in their childcare ventures.

For more information on the Women’s Business Development Center, please visit: http://www.wbdc.org.

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Celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by bububooks on May 11, 2009

Every year since 1979, America has celebrated the contributions and achievements of Asian/Pacific Americans during the month of May.  At an estimated population of 15.2 million in July 2007, Asian/Pacific Americans comprise the fastest growing race group in the United States. 

Asia represents a diverse group of people and languages, ranging from countries as far away as India, traveling east to China and Japan and south down to Vietnam and Indonesia and then further east to Hawai’i and Samoa.  Asian/Pacific Americans have contributed to American culture and national well-being in a myriad of ways, too many to mention here.

bububooks currently offers Chinese/English bilingual storybooks that highlight Chinese culture through traditional stories as well as chengyu, or idioms.  Be sure to check out our website (www.bububooks.com) as you celebrate!  We plan to expand to include other Asian languages as we continue to grow.

For more information on the history of Asian/Pacific Americans as well as population statistics, please visit: www.infoplease.com/spot/asianhistory1.html

For information on events throughout the country celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Pacific_American_Heritage_Month

National events in Washington, D.C.: http://asianpacificheritage.gov/

Events in Chicago (bububooks’ headquarters): http://www.chipublib.org/eventsprog/programs/aphm_08.php

For general information on Asian/Pacific Americans and our heritage, visit: http://www.asian-nation.org/heritage.shtml

Finally, I’ve copied and pasted below a top-ten list of ways to celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month from Asian Nation’s website.  It’s tailored to Asian/Pacific Americans, but I think everyone could try these suggestions regardless of heritage or race. 

Thank you and Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month!  Please share with me how you have celebrated or plan to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

From http://www.asian-nation.org/heritage.shtml:
The following is written by Rodney Jay C. Salinas, formerly of the Rainmaker Political Group LLC, and he suggests different ways of celebrating APA Heritage Month.

As a federal law, APA Heritage Month is observed throughout the country. Many federal departments and agencies host official observances during the month of May. Such events host important speakers, cultural performances, traditional foods, etc. Across the nation, local Asian Pacific American organizations host their own events to celebrate the month. But the true celebration begins with the individual. Below are ten good things that all of us can do to learn more about ourselves and raise broad awareness of this special occasion.

10. Instead of just eating at an Asian restaurant, talk to the owners. Learn more about their stories, how they went about establishing their business, the obstacles they’ve faced, local issues that they care about as business-owners. It will give you a better sense of just how difficult it is to establish a business, especially if the owners are first-generation immigrants.

9. Attend an Asian Pacific American temple, mosque, or church, even if it’s not your own religion. There are thousands of religious establishments that were created by and for Asian Pacific Americans. By learning about a person’s religion or spiritual beliefs, you can get a better sense of his or her value system and motivation.

8. Get as many members of your family together in one place and just enjoy each other’s company. Put the mah jong tables away for one weekend. Talk about your family’s history. How did your family come to the United States? Where did they first settle? What kinds of hardships did they face?

7. Flip through any popular magazine and carefully look at how they portray Asian Pacific Americans. Are the portrayals negative? Positive? Are the women portrayed as “exotic, sex symbols?” What other kinds of stereotypes are depicted? What kind of message do you think this sends to other readers?

6. Spend a few hours and talk to a young person. Don’t talk about superficial garbage. Ask them tough, thought-provoking questions. Have you been asked to try drugs? Have you been pressured by your friends to have sex? Have you ever thought about suicide? Are you afraid of violence in your own school? Do you get picked on because you’re Asian Pacific American? Hopefully, they’ll give you honest, direct answers, and you’ll know just the kinds of pressures facing the youth of today.

5. Chances are, you might have a friend or know of someone who was adopted. Every year, more and more children from Asia are being adopted by non-Asian families in the United States. Ask your friend about his or her experiences growing up: was it difficult growing up as an Asian Pacific American with Caucasian or African American parents? Were you exposed to your Asian culture?

4. Visit the Census Bureau’s Web site, type in your city and state, and look up the most recent demographics of your area. This is an excellent way to survey your surroundings and understand how the population is shifting. In many cases, you’ll see a significant increase in the Asian Pacific American population.

3. Go to your local bookstore and pick up a book. The book doesn’t even need to be specifically about Asian Pacific Americans, as long as it’s written by one. Because each author writes through their unique “lens” and their perspective is reflected in their writing, the book could be about anything under the sun (i.e., popular culture, fiction, biography, etc.).

2. Do a little bit of personal reflection. Ask yourself some basic questions: Do I really identify as an Asian Pacific American? How much does my nationality or ethnic heritage affect my daily life? Do I think that members of my nationality or ethnic group are superior to others? The answers might enlighten (or scare) you.

1. Tell a non-Asian Pacific American that May is recognized as Asian Pacific American month! This is perhaps the simplest, yet most effective way to raise awareness. Tell him or her what it means to you, invite them to a local event, or share an historical fact with them.

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L is for Literacy, not Language

Posted by bububooks on May 4, 2009

I attended the Fourth Annual Statewide (Illinois) Summit for Bilingual Parents on Saturday, May 2nd.  Parents, teachers and administrators gathered to discuss needs and actions within the bilingual education system. 

One of the central themes that seem to run throughout the conference was the importance of literacy before language: 

You only learn to read once. 

When studying a foreign language, you are not learning to read, but instead are transferring your reading skills to the new language.  Think back to when you studied a foreign language in high school.  You didn’t have to learn to read again, only the language components. 

While possessing the ability to speak English is powerful, a good academic foundation is most important.  Realizing and accepting that literacy leads to better academic performance and success essentially closes a Pandora’s box of problems.  When a child is thrown into an English-only program, all of her learning, acquisition of material and grades suffer.  How can she learn math in a language she doesn’t yet know well enough?  Then she is often branded with a learning disability and placed in special education programs while her true ability remains hidden.   In unfortunately common situations like this, her chances of finishing high school are significantly lowered (2 or 3 times by some accounts).  Additionally, Latina girls in Illinois have the highest teenage pregnancy rate among all the groups.

But teaching a child in his native language can prevent this downward slide.  A child can learn mathematics, science and to read in his native language while attending English language classes.  He can excel academically, acquiring the key concepts and foundations for a successful life while learning English as a language at the same time.  As we all know, children pick up languages very quickly!

When children enroll in an American school–regardless of age, they are not blank slates.  We need to embrace and leverage the language skills and culture they have already garnered to ensure their success as American and global citizens.

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