Smart mamis, you know how much I love to share and support Latino children’s literature and authors. Once again, I am honored to collaborate with Latinas for Latino Lit for the 2015 L4LL Día Blog Hop! Twelve bloggers are celebrating the literacy-focused event El día de los niños, el día de los libros (also known as Día) by spotlighting 12 U.S. Hispanic authors and illustrators. I LOVE doing this because as much as I know you and I love fashion and beauty…I know that educating our children comes first and I vow to continue to help in any way that I can (here’s last year’s post!).
I was so happy to hear that I was paired up with author/illustrator Angela Dominguez because not too long ago, I discovered and fell in love with Santiago Stays. This year’s theme is “Immersion” and I can’t wait for you to read Angela’s guest blog post below. Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in Texas and now lives in Brooklyn. Her book, Maria Had A Little Llama received the Pura Belpré Illustration Honor from the American Library Association. To see the full schedule of this year’s Día participants, please click HERE. Enjoy!
When I was asked to write an article on immersion for “Dia Blog Hop,” it was easy for me find inspiration. Currently, I’m in the process of writing a longer format story that deals with that very topic. My protagonist Stella, who is very much a fictionalized version of me, writes,
“My home is a little different…. we speak two languages. Spanish and English. Honestly, I am not that great speaking either one of them, but I’m REALLY not great at speaking Spanish. I only speak a poco. That means little in English. It’s weird because I can understand what people says in Spanish, but I just can never put the words together. Every time I try, it’s a big mess. My face turns rojo or red, I sweat, and my throat gets dry. So when my family comes to visit from Mexico, I usually stay extra quiet and just draw for them.”
Like my protagonist, I was born in Mexico and immigrated to United States. As a young child, I struggled with a few speech problems and mild case of dyslexia. At that time, the perceived best way to nip any language problems was to focus on English only. Sadly, Spanish became a language that I wholeheartedly understood, but was reluctant to speak or only sprinkled in conversations.
While I’m making a conscious effort to speak and read more in Spanish now as an adult, I wish I had a time machine where I could transport myself back to my childhood and be an advocate for Spanish.
Speaking multiple languages fluently creates more opportunities, and more importantly, it’s a way to embrace your cultural heritage. That’s why, I’m so happy to be in a time period, where there is a real shift in children’s literature. People are advocating and promoting diversity with the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign and there are bilingual books for children. I’m happy to say, I’ve been privileged to work and create a few myself. Ultimately, my biggest hope is that this will create a world where the “Stellas” are immersed and no longer feel anxious or self‐conscious of speaking their native language. -Angela Dominguez