Bilingual is Better
Feb
12
2009

Award-Winning Bilingual Books

Posted by:  |  Category: Daily Blog

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Photo by lorigreig

Photo by Lori Greig

One of our favorites places to go to – especially nowadays – is our local biblioteca or “tubuleca” like my daughter calls it! For starters, it’s free! And, the children’s section is lots of fun with toddler books easily accessible to her in big, wooden boxes at the right height. The only bad thing is their lack of books in Spanish. What I hadn’t realized until recently though, is the option of checking out bilingual books. In other words, books that are written both in English and Spanish.

This would not have even been an option if I hadn’t heard about the Youth Media Awards of the American Library Association (ALA). Aware of my love affair with books, a kind friend send me a link to this year’s recently-announced winners and after looking it over, I am happy to report it includes the following bilingual books:

  1. Just in Case by Yuyi Morales
  2. Papá and Me by Arthur Dorros
  3. The Storyteller’s Candle/La Velita de los Cuentos written by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre.

And so began my search for these award-winning books. Although I kind of knew what the answer was going to be, I decided to first look in our local library – the one that doesn’t have that many books in Spanish. Lo and behold, I found one of them and was not only surprised, but happy, because it was the one I was most interested in finding, Lucía González’ “The Storyteller’s Candle” which was the recipient of the the Pura Belpré Author and Illustrator Honor Award. According to the ALA, the award is given every other year to a Latino writer and illustrator “whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.”

You will like it, too!


The Storyteller’s Candle” is a book about New York City’s first Latina librarian, a puertorrican named Pura Belpré, who was a gifted storyteller back in the late 1920s. Belpré’s story is told through the eyes of two cousins, Hildamar and Santiago, who recently moved from Puerto Rico to NYC and are wondering how they’re going to celebrate El Día de los Reyes or Three Kings’ Day now that they live so far away from the island. In comes Belpré, who pays Hildamar’s class a visit, and tells the children about the public library and how it belongs to everyone – no matter what language they speak. And, best of all, she let’s them know about the library’s Three Kings Day celebration!

Here’s what I like about the book…First, it’s perfectly written in both languages. In other words, there are no awkward or forced translations that don’t make any sense. (I’m sure you’ve seen your share of those. I h-a-t-e them!) Second, I love that it tells the story of a Latina role model, someone to make us proud of our heritage. We need as many of these as possible and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I knew nothing about Pura Belpré. Finally, the author, Lucía González, is donating her royalties from this book to the Pura Belpré Award endowment.

Although, it’s not really a book for toddlers-the recommended ages are 4 to 8-which means Vanessa won’t really understand it just yet, I can’t wait to be able to share it with her in the near future. I hope you can do the same with your kids!

You can find this, and other Spanish and bilingual books in La Tiendita.

Do you have any bilingual books you like to read with your children that you can recommend to all of us? What do you think about bilingual books?

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