If you’ve been reading us for a while, you know that every so often I like to rave about my kids’ Spanish-speaking playgroup here in Denver. We’ve been a part of it since it began and although we don’t get to go to the meetups on a regular basis like we did at the beginning, the friendships both my kids and I have made are strong enough to survive our absences. Plus, as is the case of Vanessa, many of the kids have already started school, leaving them with little time to socialize during the week. Since several of them are a bit older, some of the moms – including myself – have felt the need to give our kids something more than just the opportunity to get together and “play” in Spanish.
We’ve been toying around with the idea of doing something more structured like a Saturday heritage language school or a Spanish book club, but because everyone’s lives can be so busy, we’ve never gotten around to actually organizing either one of them. Until now. On Saturday, I took Vanessa to the first meeting of our newly inaugurated Club Leo, our Spanish book club open to those 4 and older who are already bilingual. I am ecstatic to report that it was ¡un éxito total!
First of all, I have to thank my friend Sisi – who worked 16 years as a bilingual kindergarten teacher and is one of the original members of our Spanish playgroup – for taking the lead, offering her house, choosing a great book (La Gallinita Roja) with a bunch of awesome activities to go with it (including delicious bread for snack!) and for the cute Club Leo bags and reading passports she made for the kids. ¡Te pasaste, amiga!
Six kids attended, three boys and three girls. The majority of them have known each other since our Spanish-speaking playgroup got started, which I think made the meeting much more comfortable and relaxed. Everyone was pretty much at ease and I was pretty surprised with how attentive they all were. But, then again, Sisi is obviously an expert. She engaged them by asking them the kind of questions that had them all wanting to answer. She prepared activities that had them all eager to participate in and there was a lot of learning going on while they were having fun – the best way to learn.
Sisi has committed to doing this herself once a month for which I am incredibly grateful because, while I love the idea, I truly don’t have the patience nor the know-how to make this happen so successfully. Vanessa came home with a copy of the book and a reading passport which will get stamped every time she finishes a book through Club Leo. Once the passport is all full, Sisi told the kids we would have our first Club Leo party. They were thrilled!
TIPS FOR SPANISH BOOK CLUBS:
- If you already belong to a Spanish playgroup, I bet one of the moms in there has Sisi’s talent and can organize something similar the kids in the group.
- An important point to keep in mind is that a Spanish book club should be for kids that are a bit older and are already fluent in Spanish for all to take advantage of it. The idea is that everyone pretty much understands the book being read and can participate in a discussion about it and the activities around the book’s theme
- You can alternate who’ll be hosting the club every month to make it easier on everyone
- It shouldn’t last more than 1 1/2 hours, including snack time and an activity that includes movement
- I highly recommend the idea of keeping track of the books the kids are reading through a passport like ours or something to the effect. Kids really enjoy the challenge of filling it up with stamps.
- Make sure the books you choose lend themselves to fun activities.
Do your kids belong to a Spanish book club? Do you have any more tips? Share your experiences, we’d love to hear them!