Tag Archives: Spanish

Lord of Books

24 Apr

Can you imagine not having access to a library? José Alberto Gutierrez of Columbia can. So he’s doing something about it.

José is know as the Lord of Books in his poor Colombian neighborhood of Bogotá.

He started picking books out of the garbage 20 years ago. On his rounds as a trash collector in the wealthy neighborhoods of Bogotá, José noticed books in good condition being discarded on a daily basis. His first rescue was a copy of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. He began bringing home 50 to 60 books a day. Now his home houses upwards of thirty thousand books reaching up to the ceiling!

José learned to read on his mother’s lap. She could only afford to allow him to go to school up to the second grade. The rest of José education came from her. His mother, and later his father, read to him every night, instilling a love for stories in a largely illiterate environment.

Columbia’s capital of over 13 million citizens, has only 19 libraries. Most of them are in the wealthier neighborhoods, leaving the poor neighborhoods without service and the people who need it most, without.

15 years ago, José opened his home library to his friends and neighbors. He calls his library The Strength of Words. His community library is now open every weekend to the citizens of southern Bogota. His neighbors come with bags to collect books to take home with them. Each bag, each book, each word, is strength for a population of people hungry for stories, news, education. As he is fond of saying, “reading is a tool for life”.

Now, José and his brother-in-law drive around town with boxes of books to distribute to the people of Bogotá who cannot come to him. This modern day bookmobile provides access to literature for hundreds of people per trip.

There are many videos on YouTube about José Gutierrez. Here is one of the most recent ones.


904b3364f397a7670b02538fe5c794ccv1_max_755x566_b3535db83dc50e27c1bb1392364c95a2“Books are one of humanity’s greatest inventions.” -José Alberto Gutierrez

Hispanic Heritage Month

4 Oct

Thirty days between September 15th and October 15 are dedicated as National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States and are observed in North and South America. It was first established as a one week period by President Lyndon Johnson and later expanded to a one month period by President Ronald Reagan.

Follow this link to a Calendar of Events for 2016.

“September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.”

The celebrations began with a recital played on a spanish guitar commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote.

So I thought it was only fitting that I share some of my favorite recently published picture books celebrating hispanic heritage. Pick up a few to share with your favorite niños.


MARTA BIG AND SMALL (Roaring Brook Press, 2016) Jen Arena and Angela Dominguez seamlessly name animals and their characteristics in both english and spanish as Marta compares herself to the jungle animals.

OLINGUITO, DE LA A A LA Z, FROM A TO Z! (Children’s Book Press, 2016) Lulu Delacre speaks first in spanish then in english as she takes the reader in search of the newest mammal discovered in the Andes rainforest, the olinguito.

FLUTTER AND HUM (Henry Holt and Company, 2015) Julie Paschkis delights us with her art and poetry. Enjoy this collection of animal poems in both english and spanish.

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME (Candlewick, 2015) Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez tell a lovely story about the relationship between Mia and her abuela who learn to speak each other’s language.

MAYA’S BLANKET  (Children’s Book Press, 2015) Monica Brown and David Diaz wrap you up in the magical blanket Maya’s abuelita made for her when she was a baby. As she grows the blanket frays and becomes different articles of clothing until the last remaining piece is the story.






Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

30 Apr

12629258Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios (2011)

Marisol McDonald doesn’t match for several reasons. As you can tell from her name, one is Peruvian the other Scottish. Her skin is brown and her hair is orange. Her pants don’t match her shirt. Her favorite lunch is peanut butter and jelly burritos. Her drawings of pink polk-a-dotted elephants are unusual. Marisol McDonald wouldn’t have it any other way. She likes her unique combinations. But on the advice of a friend, Marisol McDonald tries to match. It was not a great success. She found matching clothes hard to find, matching sandwiches mushy, and matching pictures boring. Luckily for Marisol, her art teacher noticed her change and with a simple note signed ‘Ms. Jamiko Apple’ convinced Marisol that she was ‘simply marvelous’ just the way she was! The next day, Marisol put on her mismatched outfit and went to the pound to get a puppy. Of course, a regular dog just wouldn’t do and Marisol chose the one with one floppy ear and one pointed one, one brown eye and one blue eye. The perfect puppy for Marisol was mismatched and marvelous… she named him Kitty!

Monica Brown is a children’s author of multiracial heritage just like Marisol McDonald. She is Peruvian and Spanish mixed with Scottish, Italian, Jewish, Nicaraguan, Mexican, Chilean, and African… and everyone in her family share one thing – freckles. She is American, and she embraces all citizens of the world. She is the author of award winning bilingual books for children. Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match is written in both English and Spanish text, one on either side of a page spread.

Sara Palacios divides her life and time between Mexico City where she was born and San Francisco where she studies and works. Her illustrations are natural and authentic. Hidden in each one is text that appears to come from Spanish-speaking newsprint. The artwork is colorful and draws the reader into the story.

This is the first book I have read by Monica Brown, but it certainly won’t be my last. I am completely won over by her style and universal themes. And, like Marisol McDonald, Monica Brown, and Sara Palacios, I too have a multicultural heritage which doesn’t match, but is nonetheless a perfect combination! I look forward to reading more of her work.

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