bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Archive for September, 2009

New book at bububooks: Luna Needs a Miracle!/¡Luna Necesita un Milagro!

Posted by bububooks on September 29, 2009

Book cover

Book cover

We at bububooks are excited to announce our newest book, Luna Needs a Miracle!/¡Luna Necesita un Milagro!, written by celebrity Chef Paul Luna.  Now you must be thinking this book is about food, but it’s not!  Luna explores the themes of love, fear, family and friendship in this bilingual—Spanish/English—children’s book.  The main character, whose name is also Luna and does not speak or understand English, faces his fears as he prepares for his first day at a new school in a new country in this colorfully illustrated hardcover.

Luna prays for the school to be closed and, as a result, no longer worries about his first day in a new situation.  Yet as he walks closer and closer to school that morning, Luna discovers the school is still open, but finds his prayer answered in another, more universal way. (We won’t want to spoil it!)

“Experiencing something radically different from what you know can be frightening, but can also create a window of opportunity upon which you can take action with clarity and confidence,” said author Luna.  He continues, “writing this book was a way for me to break past my own fears of doing something new and unknown, while also sharing an important lesson that we are all the same.  We all have fears, challenges and successes in our lives.”

Laura, founder of bububooks, got to personally meet Luna and his fiancée, Cynthia.  “Our missions are quite the same. We understand and appreciate the value of languages and of reading.  It was never any question to him—the book had to be bilingual.  I am inspired by his passion and am proud that we are carrying their book. We look forward to reading more from him!”

Get the book in hardcover version at www.bububooks.com for $24.99.

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An Inspiring Story for Reading

Posted by bububooks on September 25, 2009

Donors ChooseWe decided to post this thank you letter not to boast, but because the author, a teacher in a public school, offers a first-hand view of what we at bububooks strongly believe.  We like to say, “L is for literacy, not language.”  This is why we advocate for English Language Learner programs in our schools.  Please read this teacher’s note below for a perspective on what non-native English speakers face while trying to grow up.

This thank you letter comes from Donorschoose.org.  This website connects teachers in public schools who need funding for specific projects and willing donors.  Check it out at www.donorschoose.org!

Dear Laura,

Thank you so much for your generous donations. Reading is so important, and is essential in becoming successful in today’s society. Many of my English language learners are not thought of as the bright kids that they truly are because they struggle with reading. I have learned through my classes that most of my students can read and write in Spanish (their native language). The importance of reading–in any language–is immeasurable!

With the ability to read (in any language) comes vocabulary development; fluency; comprehension; and critical thinking skills, such as, prediction and sequencing. Reading in Spanish will help students transfer their knowledge, and learn more readily in English. Research has shown that students who continue to read and write in their native language, will find it much easier to learn to read and write in a new language.

These bilingual books will help my students this year–and in coming years–by allowing them to continue to read and learn in their native language, while acquiring new English skills. The books will also allow parents who feel “left out” the opportunity to engage in their children’s’ education and help them to develop a love of learning.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and compassion towards my students and me!

With gratitude,
Ms. R.

Thanks for reading.  To see the specific project, visit http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=314515&pmaId=409319&pmaHash=-973939887&utm_source=dc&utm_campaign=ity&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Project#bus

Have a great weekend and feel free to share projects you’ve donated to on DonorsChoose.org!

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Book Review: Prisoner in Alcatraz by Theresa Breslin

Posted by bububooks on September 21, 2009

prisoner in alcatrazTheresa Breslin wrote this book based on real experiences from when a group of prisoners attempted to break out of Alcatraz in the late 1940s. The story is told from the point of view of Marty King, a young, simple man who wants to grow tomatoes in the warm sun of Mexico and somehow manages to get into bad situations that ultimately land him in Alcatraz. Because he is small, some other prisoners convince him (as if he really had a choice) to help prepare for a break out by crawling through an air vent and making an imprint of a key on a bar of soap. Without ruining the story, Marty shares his insights into the legendary prisoners at Alcatraz and his own life.

The first element that stuck out to me was Breslin’s use of structure in this story. We first meet Marty after he’s in Alcatraz and subsequently learn how he grew up with his Ma in Chicago and, in between, how he gets bullied into the escape party and how he got into Alcatraz to begin with. The next element Breslin exceeds it that her use of voice. We can picture Marty as he speaks, through the way he speaks, as well as Marty’s cohorts and fellow prisoners. We sense who they are simply through their dialogue. Because of these two elements, Breslin presents an entertaining and highly impactful story in slightly more than 80 pages.

Now this book is not bilingual and we do not carry it at bububooks (yet). However, we wanted to share it with you because not only is Theresa Breslin an amazing author, but also because the publisher of this particular book is special to us. They are known as Barrington Stoke and are located in Great Britain. Barrington Stoke uses its own font and paper that are designed to help dyslexic people read. The font, with its “a”s and “g”s shaped more like how we write them rather than type them, is also useful to English Language Learners who may need to reconcile the difference between handwritten English letters and typed English letters. Further, Barrington Stoke uses readers as consultants on titles before they’re published. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant, email them at info@barringtonstoke.co.uk or visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

For more information on Theresa Breslin and her work, please visit: http://www.theresabreslin.co.uk/

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept 15-Oct 15

Posted by bububooks on September 17, 2009

iStock_000006456892SmallHispanic Heritage Month began this week.  It originally began as a week long celebration in 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim it.  During this month, we celebrate the cultures and traditions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South Americas and the Caribbean.  Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept 15 because five Latin American countries gained independence from Spain on this day: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Also, Mexico celebrates its independence day on Sept. 16th, while Chile celebrates its on the 18th.

National Activities
You can use this month to celebrate Hispanic culture in America and to learn more about it.  There is so much to do!  For a list of events throughout the nation, be sure to check out http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.net/calendar.html.

Children’s Activities
colorin coloradoOf course, with us being a children’s bookstore, we need to focus on activities for the kids!  For that, we turn to our all-time favorite, ¡Colorín colorado! On this page, you can find fun activities for your kids, including word searches and crossword puzzles as well as other activity sheets focusing on words and language.  Also, ¡Colorín colorado! has set up a link where you can send e-cards to your friends and families!  Now, for the adults, this awesome website offers information, history, teaching materials, classroom activities, lesson plans and other resources and links for you to use.  Be sure to bookmark that page!

Children’s Reading List
We at bububooks have also created a book list to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your children.

Celebrations / Celebraciones: Holidays of the United States of America and Mexico / Dias feriados de los Estados Unidos y Mexico

Celebrations

Explore the ways Mexicans and Americans observe holidays throughout the year and learn how the common values and beliefs these countries share are reflected in their special days.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Somo un arco iris / We are a Rainbow

Rainbow “Are we as different as we might think? I say sol. You say sun. No matter how we say it, it is the same one.” Nancy Maria Grande Tabor, via a simple text and vivid art, establishes that children of two entirely different cultures are really quite similar. We Are a Rainbow helps young readers begin building the cultural bridges of common human understanding through simple comparisons of culture from breakfast foods to legends. Colorful cut-paper art and gentle language deliver this universal message eloquently.

Purchase this bilingual book

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El gusto del mercado Mexicano / A Taste of the Mexican Market

Mexican Market

Let’s visit a Mexican market!

Along the way you can compare, weigh, count, and learn about culture and customs. From bunches of hanging bananas and braids of garlic to pyramids of melon and baskets of sweet cheese, this Mexican market is full of fun and surprises.

Colorful cut-paper art sets the scene for a creative way to build new vocabulary for beginning readers of Spanish or English.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/ Jitomatesrisueños y otros poemas de primavera

Laughing TomatoesFrom the imagination of poet Francisco X. Alarcón comes this playful and moving collection of twenty poems about spring in English and Spanish. Tomatoes laugh, chiles explode, and tortillas applaud the sun! With joy and tenderness, delight and sadness, Francisco’s poems honor the wonders of life and nature: welcoming the morning sun, remembering his grandmother’s songs, paying tribute to children working in the fields, and sharing his dream of a world filled with gardens. Artist Maya Christina Gonzalez invites us to experience the poems with her lively cast of characters—including a spirited grandmother, four vivacious children, and playful pets who tease and delight. Follow them from page to page as they bring the spring season to colorful life.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Ve lo que dices / See What You Say

See what you say

In this entertaining, bilingual exploration of language, children are introduced to a second language and get a glimpse of another culture. Ve lo que dices/See What You Say explores the ways two different cultures view their own languages through familiar idioms. Sometimes the words we use have a different meaning from what we say. For instance, if a person becomes hasty and does things out of order, in English we say he has put the cart before the horse. In Spanish he is starting to build the house at the roof. Although they mean the same thing, the literal sense of these phrases is quite different. In Ve lo que dices/See What You Say, these contrasting expressions become charming and vivid vignettes.

Nancy María Grande Tabor’s signature cut paper illustrations are remarkable in their three-dimensional quality and light-hearted presentation of some very off-the-wall phrases. Children and adults alike will have a great time guessing what idiom each illustration represents.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Where Fireflies Dance / Ahí donde bailan las luciérnagas

where fireflies danceIn her first book for children, award-winning author Lucha Corpi remembers her childhood growing up in Jáltipan, Mexico, where the moon hung low and the fireflies flickered in the night air. In vivid and poetic detail, she recalls exploring with her brother the old haunted house of the legendary revolutionary Juan Sebastián, discovering the music that came from the jukebox at the local cantina, and getting caught by their mother for their mischievous adventures. Most of all, she remembers the ballads her father sang and the stories her grandmother told. In her stories, her grandmother passes on an important message about growing up—each person, like the revolutionary Juan Sebastián, has a destiny to follow.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Flag Quiz
Click here to test your knowledge of flags throughout Latin America, provided by WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee, Fla. Bet you’ll beat Laura!

Fun Facts
For some interesting statistics on the Hispanic population in America, click here.  Test your knowledge and learn more too!

Activities in Chicago
For events occurring throughout Hispanic Heritage Month in Chicago, check out ABC 7 Chicago’s The Ñ Beat with Theresa Gutierrez. Click here for more information.

Activities in South Georgia
Valdosta State University will host several events throughout month.  See the list here–hope to see you there!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this posting and are excited as we are to check out some of these events.  Feel free to share more!

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Tips for teachers of English language learners

Posted by bububooks on September 13, 2009

As teachers get ready for school to start in the fall, they might consider a few tips on making students welcome who don’t speak English as a native language. More students speak Spanish as their first language than any other group in the U.S., but there are over a hundred other mother tongues spoken by kids from kindergarten to twelfth grade around this country. No one teacher can possibly know all of these. So, what’s a teacher to do? Two websites offer some practical advice:

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3747021&FullBreadCrumb=%3Ca+href%3D%22http%3A%2F

and http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/reachingout/welcoming

There is plenty of research demonstrating that English language learners (or ELLs for short) learn best by drawing on what they already know. That means, they learn best when they start with the language they already speak, their native language (or L1). Children are not blank states when starting kindergarten. This tends to be an unpopular notion in many places, as it was in the Word Geek’s childhood. The idea back in the Olden Days was to punish a child for speaking anything but the “best” meaning the textbook or Standard version of English. The result was, predictably, that kids who didn’t already speak a pretty standard version quit talking altogether in school and made very little progress, then stopped going to school as soon as they could get away with it. This tended to be around the fourth grade (age 8 or 9). Or, because these children struggle to learn math and science in their L2, they get placed in special education classes in which they become bored and disgruntled. This pattern is NOT recommended!

Instead of following this mournful and unsuccessful pattern, consider the tips described by David and Yvonne Freeman at the first site above:

1. Pair a newcomer (an ELL with little or no English) with a partner who speaks his or her L1 as well as some English. Make sure the partner knows this buddy position is a prestigious job and you are very impressed at how well he or she carries it off. The buddy’s job description should include making sure the newcomer knows the class rules, gets the class assignments, and, hopefully, this buddy does some translating.

2. Invite a parent volunteer into the classroom to read aloud to the class in the L1 of the newcomer(s). If this involves showing lots of pictures, even the English speakers should get something out of it. Plus, they’ll get some idea of what it’s like to be unable to understand every word of what’s going on – empathy, in other words. Not a bad idea!

3. Let the kids speak in their L1. The Word Geek wishes to put this one up in lights, so she will repeat it in capital letters and add an exclamation mark: LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1! Maybe she should throw some firecrackers in to get some people’s attention here, adding extra exclamation marks for more emphasis. LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1!!!

4. Build a class library in the students’ L1s. It’s especially helpful if some of these books are what we once called “ponies,” in the Olden Days. That means, there is the L1 on one page. On the facing page, the same text is in English. This way, a student sees that his or her native language is respected and supported, and the child can go from the known (L1) to the unknown (L2), with a lot less pain and hassle. The Word Geek was once very fond of such ponies and still has a few in her possession.

5. Organize bilingual tutoring, for example by partnering with a teacher of a class a year or two older than your own, in which there are students who speak the same L1 as your students. These older kids who presumably also speak a little more English can help tutor your students, do a little translating. It’s good for their education and self-esteem as well as helping your students along. A person never learns better than when helping someone else learn.

6. Provide students pen pals, whether in their L1 or L2, and whether through e-mail or by means of old-fashioned pen and paper. Go to the first website above to find a couple of online sites to locate e-mail pen pals. This type of writing is a lot more interesting than writing boring sentences in response to even duller reading exercises.

7. Encourage writing in a journal, whether in the L1 or L2. Sometimes, writing about the acquisition of L2 (namely English) in the L1 is one of the best ways to get a student to think about it after school.

8. Create books of students’ own writings. That is to say, with the computer it is relatively easy to type up things that students write, duplicate them, print them out, and even bind them in inexpensive ways. These can be done in the L1 or L2. “Ponies” created in this way can be distributed to the entire class, giving a newcomer a new feeling of being part of a class, not an outsider. Many of the fonts required to print, say, Vietnamese or Arabic or whatever are already available on the internet for free – or relatively cheaply.

9. Use L1 storytellers to support the ELLs language and culture and share with the rest of the class. The teacher can help bring in the rest of the class by teaching a story ahead of time, or having the class read the story or act it out, if they are too young to read it yet. That way, no one need feel left out when the storyteller comes and speaks another language.

10. Put up the signs that are displayed in the classroom in both English and any L1s spoken by students. This shows that the L1 is valued and, therefore, the student who speaks it is also valued.

Time for an object lesson:  When the Word Geek took an introductory linguistics class in college, years ago, the professor told of taking a rabbit in a cage to a first grade classroom. The children in the classroom seemed inordinately quiet and the regular teacher agreed, saying that the kiddies were all “culturally deprived” (using the parlance of the times).

The linguistics professor said that she had a cure for that dread condition. The rabbit was part of it. She put the cage on the teacher’s desk and told the silent students that she and the other teacher had to leave the classroom for a moment. “But I need you kids to help me out,” she told them. “Mr. Bunny will get very, very sick if I go away and nobody talks to him. So, while we’re gone, you need to talk to him and keep talking until I get back. Will you do that for me?” 

The kids silently nodded.

The professor and the teacher silently left the classroom. The kids did not see, but the professor had silently started a tape recorder behind the desk.

When the professor got back, as soon as she opened the door of the classroom, the kids were quiet, so she had no idea if her plan had worked. But later, when she played the tape for the teacher, the two adults heard a great cacophony of noise. The whole time the grownups had been out of the room, all the children had been talking to that rabbit, calling him “Mr. Bunny,” telling him not to be scared, letting him know he would be all right. They did not speak perfect Standard English. But they could speak all right and their meaning was clear enough.

Why wouldn’t they talk when their teacher was there? As the professor pointed out to us, when someone gets onto you every time you open your mouth, you stop opening your mouth. So, at the risk of beating a dead horse, LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1. They’ll eventually get to L2 that way. But if they stop talking altogether, they’ll never get anywhere.

This article was written by Diana Gainer, the Word Geek Examiner, on http://www.examiner.com.  Laura Renner added some of her own thoughts as well.

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