International Festival - A Cultural Learning Experience

During this past month, little one and I had the opportunity to visit for the first time Columbia's International Festival! We were exploring the world under one roof! The festival is a celebration of music, culture, and food from around the world; bringing different countries, and people together in one place. Every year the festival has a theme country, and this year it was Brazil! Perfect especially since the World Cup will be held in Brazil this year as well. 

Latinas for Latino Lit Día Blog Hop with René Colato Laínez

The L4LL Día Blog Hop
I am so excited to participate in the Latinas for Latino Lit 2nd Annual Latino Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop!

I am joining forces with 24 Latina bloggers to bring to you 24 Latino authors, and illustrators.

As a strong advocate of Latino children's book I am so honored to introduce to you René Colato Laínez one of our favorite Latino children's author in our home!


A few years ago, The Utah Humanities Book Festival asked me the following question: “What kind of idea are you?”

This was my response:

I am the idea of Go get it! It is right there waiting for me. I am not afraid. I know that I can do it. I walk towards that goal with a positive spirit. Sometimes it might be windy or freezing or the earth may shake. But my steps are sure and strong. If I fall down, I get up. If there is a rock blocking my way, I roll it down the hill. If there is a river, I cross it. No matter what, at the end of the journey my goal is there waiting for me. The immigrant child, who came from El Salvador to the USA with a backpack full of dreams, has accomplished all of them. Now he is a teacher, a teacher full of stories. He is also an award-winning author. That child is me, René Colato Laínez. So everyone, go get it!


When I was child, I had two dreams to become a teacher and to write a book. I wanted to be a teacher because I was always impressed to see how they could transform a child from a non-reader to an eager reader. Teachers had the magic to touch the future and I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to write a book because my mother’s uncle, Jorge Buenaventura Laínez-, was an author in El Salvador. He wrote on the last page of his family biography, Los Laínez de la Soledad: “This is not the end of the Laínez. I know that new generations will grow and I want one of those Laínez to continue the tradition of writing.” I read this when I was twelve years old and I felt that Tío Jorge was pointing at me to be the next writer in the family. So, I promised myself that one day, I would write a book.

But then, a civil war started in El Salvador and my family had to immigrate to the United States. I came with a backpack full of dreams, eager to convert those dreams into reality. In El Salvador, I was an excellent reader. I was great with numbers. But in my new school in the USA, I felt that I was a dumb student. Everything was upside down. Teachers were using letters instead of numbers to grade the students. Math was so confusing, I did not know that new way of multiplying and dividing numbers. Students wrote the date backward 5-12-1985. “Today in not December 5th,” I said. One of the students rolled his eyes as he said, “You don’t even know today’s date.” When I found the word “once” at the beginning of a book, I read it as the number eleven in Spanish and I was shocked to find out that it was not only eleven, it was also time. So, I sat on my desk very sad and asked myself, “Will my dreams become a reality in the United States?”

I believed in myself. I did my best and I did not give up. Soon, I was learning and in a few years I was graduating high school with honors! I was accepted to a four-year university. In 1993, eight years after I left El Salvador, I accomplished my first dream. I became a teacher.

Now I was ready for my second dream, to publish a book. It was the year 2000 when I submitted my first manuscript. The road to publication was not easy at all. I received tons of rejections letters. But I believed in my work. I did my best and I did not give up. I took a creative writing class and I did a MFA in Writing for Children for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2002, Arte Público Press gave me my big chance. I was so thrilled to receive a book contract for my picture book manuscript, Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá. The book was published on October 31st, 2004. Yes, I accomplished my second dream. I was an author!

This is my tenth year anniversary as a published author. It has been ten wonderful years of writing, visiting schools, doing reading all around the United States and even in my native country El Salvador. I have met and become friends with many authors and illustrators. I have published nine books. Two more are coming in 2015. I have participated in an anthology. I have published poems and stories in Iguana Magazine and in many educational reading programs.

Yes, I did it as an illegal immigrant child with no English at all at the beginning of my journey.  So now I say to all the children and adults, go get it! Go for your dreams. Believe in yourself. Do your best. Do not give up. I know that your dream is right there waiting for you.


René Colato Laínez

Raising a Biliterate Child {Teaching Him to Read and Write in the Minority Language}

It is very important to me that my son not only is bilingual but biliterate as well.  Being biliterate is just as important as being bilingual.  Therefore, I have put a lot of energy and time to make sure that my son learns how to read and write in Spanish.  When we started our Spanish immersion journey, I wasn't quite sure when to start teaching him to read in Spanish. 

However, when he started kindergarten he was learning to read in English using "sight" words. We don't really have Spanish "sight" words. So I turned to how Spanish is taught in Puerto Rico. Using the phonics booklet called La Cartilla Fonética  I started teaching him the basics with "a,e,i,o,u."

Once he learned his alphabet, and the vowels in Spanish I started breaking up the words in syllables.  We started playing games to develop his pre-reading skills

Cinco de Mayo A Celebration of Mexican Culture and Heritage

I am so honored to be a member of the Multicultural Kid Blogs, and to be writing for them on Cinco de Mayo Celebration and the Influence of Mexican Culture in the U.S.  

While researching I was blown away by the statistics, and how the Mexican population is growing by leaps and bounds in the U.S.A. So it comes to no surprise on why Cinco de Mayo is such a huge celebration in the U.S.   To read more about it click on the link below, and Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

Creative Kids Culture #15

Hi, and welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

This month's feature:

1.  True Aim's Geography fun!   I love her geography game to get the kids running, and moving! Perfect for my 5 yr. old. :)

A simple geography game that doesn't require any extra materials.  Our kids love it!

2.  Stacking Book's Review on Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters! 
I absolutely love this African folk tale about two sisters.  I will definitely be looking for this in our local library. It's a must read!

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

and our most viewed and clicked on post this past month was: ♫drum roll please♫:

Carrot Top x 3 Polar Regions Post!  Talk about being creative!!! My son wants me to do this for him.

VeggieTales Movie Premier Party

I had the opportunity to host a fun-filled party for 13 of my son's friends! Counting the adults we had 29 guests! We had a great turn-out!   

The Easter Story and Resurrection Eggs {Spanish Activity}

With Easter around the corner I planned a very special Spanish Activity with Resurrection eggs for my son's Spanish playgroup.  

Every other week we have a Spanish children's workshop, and I usually have a theme. This time it was Easter. I couldn't find a book in Spanish, but we did have at home the The Easter Story by Patricia A. Pingry.  It's a perfect book for little ones that explains the story of Easter without going into the specific details of Jesus' death, but it does explain that Jesus died, and resurrected on the third day. 

La Pequeña Arañita {The Itsy Bitsy Spider} in Spanish

Today's post on learning Spanish through music and play will be hosted at Toddling in the Fast Lane.

Kristen has many wonderful ideas on teaching her Chiquita Spanish so I'm excited to be (visiting her neck of the woods) with a post on the children's story book La Araña Muy Ocupada paired up with La Pequeña Araña song, and a spider craft.  You can check out the full post with song lyrics, and craft idea at Toddling in the Fast Lane.

For other fun ideas on teaching your child Spanish click here.

Remembering Puerto Rico and Reading "Caribbean Dream" by Rachel Isadora

It fills my heart with joy every time little one and I talk about Puerto Rico.  About it's white sandy beaches, the lizard peeking through the window, the blazing sun, the coquí that he heard for the first time, the outpouring of love from la familia,  and Abuela's rooster singing in the wee hours of the morning. These memories of life in The Enchanted Island of the Caribbean will forever live with him, and be part of who he is.  Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small compensation. 

Caribbean Dream  by Rachel Isadora is a beautiful multicultural book set in the Caribbean. It is an easy to read-aloud book with rhythmic structure. Perfect for my up-and-coming reader who is only 5 yrs. old.

I love this book, and how my son can relate to it, and identify with the children in the illustrations. He can see someone that looks like him, and how wonderful it is to live in the Caribbean.