I went to the Nashville Public Library recently and I came across a category in the Children’s Section that left me utterly delighted. It was a whole row of shelves dedicated to bilingual books. The books were both translations of english books and imports from other countries. There were books representative of African cultures, Asian cultures, and Latino cultures. To anyone from the Nashville area, this may not be new information, but for me, there is nothing like this at the library back home. I would definitely have noticed. When I was younger my Grandma would pick me up after school and then we’d head to the library. She knew I loved reading, and enjoyed seeing me get so excited about new books. Grandma is from Nicaragua, and between my preference to speak english and her comfort in speaking spanish, there were times where that language barrier came between us. Our love for each other didn’t need words, but we never really read stories together or had an easy conversation about the books I was enjoying. I felt like we missed out on those small, but endearing moments. If there was a bilingual section at my library when I was younger, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to learn enough spanish eavesdrop on the adults’ conversations, but I know for sure I would have had wonderful story-time with Grandma. I still might when I tell her about this, she’s always telling me I need more practice!
I picked two books with spanish translations to breifly review that I think Abuelita and I would have enjoyed. The first La Abuela en la Ciudad is a translation of Nana in the City, a 2105 Caldecott Honor Book by Lauren Castillo. In this story a young boy goes to sleep over at his Grandma’s. He finds the city scary and noisy. When his Abuela gives him a red superhero cape she made, he feels braver and realizes that the city has beauty and music to it.
The second story is Mamá the Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Laura Lacámara. In this book, a young girl sees her mother’s Resident Alien card and believes her mother is from outer-space. It is a sweet story as the young girl tries to figure out what kind of alien her mom is and learns in the end what the card really meant and how proud her mom is to become a citizen. What was also great about this book was that it has the spanish text and the english text side by side. Laínez, purposely wrote it this way because he said he wanted it to help children learn both languages.
These are stories that I would have loved to have read with my Grandma and I am glad other kids now have that opportunity. There was a bit of empty space between the shelves and I hopefully look forward to a day where it is completely filled.