Bilingual Author Francisco Alarcon

By readingintheborderlands

I woke to news of the death of Francisco Alarcón, a Chicano poet and author of several bilingual children’s books. I’ve used his bilingual poetry with children and students in children’s literature courses many times; there’s just nothing like pulling out a bilingual picture book and seeing a group of kids go from disengaged to wide-eyed and enthusiastic when they see and hear words in Spanish. I applaud Francisco Alarcón for showing our Spanish-speaking students that their language and lives are valued enough to put in a book. How sad that we won’t see anything else from this fantastic author.51vbhf5eT4L._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_


American Library Association Youth Media Awards

By Readingintheborderlands

Big congratulations to Matt de la Peña for winning the Newbery Medal for Last Stop on Market Street! This book also won a Caldecott Honor award.

And of note for Rio Grande Valley readers: The Smoking Mirror by David Bowles won a Pura Belpre Author Honor award. David Bowles is from the Rio Grande Valley and has written a number of books that focus on life in the borderlands.

The entire list of awards can be found here.

The House that Reading Built

Posted by Readingintheborderlands

Donalyn Miller wrote an excellent post about the power of literacy and access to books:

Reversing the lack of accurate, inclusive, affirming portrayals of diversity in children’s literature is long overdue, but writing and publishing more diverse authors and stories only takes us so far if children never see these books. As a global community, we cannot continue to accept or perpetuate inequities limiting children’s open access to books.

Back from hiatus…..

By readingintheborderlands

It’s been a while! This blog went on hiatus when work got overwhelming. The consolidation of my university with another has been….interesting, to say the least. Positive, yes! But lots and lots and lots of work. We are now three whole months into the new institution and it’s time to get back to other parts of my life.

The blog has a new look, but I’ll probably be playing around with it for a bit trying out different colors and graphics.

L4LL Blog Hop

By Readingintheborderlands

The Latinas for Latino Lit blog has organized a blog hop for the month of April in honor of Día de los Libros:

This year, we are happy to announce that we have increased the number to two dozen Latino authors/illustrators paired with top Latina bloggers in comparison with last year’s 20! Starting here on our site on April 6th, a different author/illustrator will appear on a different blog, writing an original short article or creating an original illustration in support of Latino children’s literacy. The Día Blog Hop concludes on April 30th here on L4LL, culminating with a special announcement.

Lots of wonderful authors and illustrators! See the schedule here.

Literature in Kindergarten….Is It Possible?

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Norma Perez


Yes, it is possible even though many young children that are ready to attend school are not aware that their learning environment will be an inspiring and rewarding one.  As an early childhood teacher, I have encountered many young children who have not been exposed to literacy through the use of literature.

poorIt is sad to say that many of our young children today have little or no exposure to literature due to different reasons.  In some instances, they haven’t been exposed to literature of any kind.  I have had some young children come to school without ever being read to; because they either live with parents or guardians who can’t read to them, or simply because of a low social economic status environment.  Some parents do not have the resources to expose their children to literature.


booksThere are ways to expose young children to literature.  As a teacher, I believe that young children can experience literacy through children’s literature as a ‘read-aloud’.  At a very early age, young children have a playful imagination.  They are intrigued by stories that are entertaining whether it be make-believe or real.  Most often young children make personal connections about the character or the plot in the story.

Literature is the avenue for young children to be able to discover other places without ever leaving the proximity of their comfort zone; it also allows young children to learn about other cultures.  As we all know, it is important to expose our young generation to other ethical backgrounds.  Otherwise, our society will continue to stereotype people without even considering their ethics and morals.  For instance, this year I have a child in my classroom who is Asian.  It is obvious that her classmates noticed that she looked and spoke different.  So at the beginning of the school year, I read a children’s literature book titled Yoko by Rosemary Wells.  The story is about a character who takes lunch to school and her friends immediately noticed that the meal is not familiar…sushi.

sushiOf course, my students were curious about what sushi was except for my Asian student; she immediately made a personal connection and described to her classmates what sushi was and what it tasted like.  She also talked about how her mother prepared the tasty entrée, which was her most favorite dish.

Literature enhances one’s culture when it is about their own values and morals.  I truly believe that exposing young children to their own culture through literature will help them relate to the customs and traditions that occurs within their families.  When I was growing up, I knew my heritage and background but I seldomly made personal connections to the literature that was read to my classmates and me.  As a young child, I remember being exposed to stories about Dick and Jane by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp; do not me get wrong, I really enjoyed these stories, they are my old time favorites.  Not knowingly as child, I would draw my characters with blonde hair instead black or brown, and with fair skin color instead of brown.  As for me, that was normal, I never gave it much thought; but in all honesty, I was a young child who did not relate my pictures to my own identity; so what is the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that young children should be exposed to a variety of literature; especially about their culture.  It is about literature that not only takes them to places that they have never been to; but also, it is literature that will allow them to a make a connection from a personal experience as well.




Advantages of the Language Experience Approach

This summer, students in READ 6313 Literacy Development and Language Study were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Delma

I first read about the language experience approach (LEA) as an undergraduate in the education program. The foundation of the language experience approach is the students’ own experiences being written and read as dictated to the teacher verbatim, with no editing.  Then, the teacher and the students read the story aloud.  Through LEA, beginning readers can learn about the conventions of print, print directionality, basic punctuation and that what they say, that is, oral language, can be written and read. Other activities may include writing the story in their journal and illustrating it.

One of my class assignments was to design a lesson plan that implemented LEA during my field observations.  The students in the class I was assigned to were first grade emergent bilinguals.  They chose to dictate to me a five-sentence story about their favorite holiday, Christmas.  Below are examples of Kathleen’s and Raul’s copies of the story.

delma 1

delma 2

I realized, then, that students had authentic experiences that they were eager to share.  Seeing their own stories in print and reading them afterwards provided a rich learning experience for them while validating their experiences.   Just as they read what someone else has written in their textbooks and library books, their stories are meant to be written and read, too.

Now, as a graduate student, one of our assigned textbooks, From Phonics to Fluency by Timothy V. Rasinski and Nancy D. Padak, offers many more methods and techniques for implementing LEA.   As the students progress to higher-grade levels, teachers can continue to plan lessons using LEA.   These lessons can focus on a specific academic subject, with emphasis placed on the vocabulary, their prior knowledge of the topic, or their new understanding.  Teaching advanced grammar can be incorporated into any academic subject with LEA.  Indenting paragraphs, placing exclamation marks, colons, semicolons and commas in the appropriate places as the students dictate their experiences will provide them with an added learning experience.  Also, the use of conjunctions can be learned through LEA activities.

The language experience approach is a philosophy that has been studied and implemented for many years.  It has provided an advantage to students at all grade levels with their reading, writing and in the content areas.  Enriching students’ learning is important. LEA activities will provide this and, at the same time, it will encourage them to be a part of their own learning experience.