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Raising a Bilingual Kid & Reading Culturally Significant Books – ‘Caramelo’

Raising a Bilingual Kid Reading Culturally Significant Books Caramelo juanofwords

One of my favorite reads.

Shut up stupid!  That was the line that got Edgar cracking up last night while we were reading Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros.  This is my second time reading the book.  His first.  After that, it took me all of five minutes to get him to stop laughing en carcajadas so we could continue reading.

Okay… so the truth is I didn’t really try.

It was rather rewarding just to listen to him instead.

You see, we had just finished reading the story of Oliver Twist together a couple of days ago, and all of a sudden I thought What if I read Caramelo to him?  Would he enjoy it?  That was it.  My mind was made up, and our next read together would be sort of an experiment.  I guess you could say a blind experiment on one side.

An experiment in what? – you might ask.  In his bilingual and bicultural integration, I guess.  I’d like to tell you there was a very well thought out reason for wanting to test him on this, pero, well you all know me better than that.  I’m not that sophisticated.  I just want to see if he can relate to her story, and by how much.

Edgar has only been to Mexico when he was too young to remember.  Unlike me, his summers haven’t been spent running up and down the arroyos of a rancho, exploring the wonders of a foreign but familiar land, entertaining family with his English and pochismos.  Making everybody laugh when he can’t get more than a couple of sentences out in Spanish before blabbering a bunch of incomprehensible vocabulary in Spanglish.  He doesn’t know what it means to have to wait for running water.  To boil dirty green water from the local pond to take a bath instead.  To buy galletas by the pound.  To ride in the back of a pick up on the way to town.  To see a young kid his age hustling for the first time.  To feel guilty for having better things than everybody else.  And then having to experience the heartbreak of saying hasta pronto.

He doesn’t know, but I wondered if he would understand it.

At first, I think he was confused.  Now, I think he gets it.  How do I know?  By the smile on his face.  The giggling after certain paragraphs.  The way he just lays next to me mentally creating a picture of the words being read.  It’s something neither Anjelica or I ever had at his age.  To be able to see so much of ourselves, our culture, our families, in one book.  It’s making the second read of Caramelo, for me, very rewarding and satisfying on a whole new level.

Bedtime Stories for Bilingual Kids: Book Review & Giveaway

I know the author!  It’s always fun to be able to say that.  Even more thrilling when it is someone who has always been nothing but compassionate and supportive to all writers they come across.  Rosalinda Vargas, my friend and author of this new bilingual book, Sometimes I Don’t Want to Sleep, is definitely a woman who fits the bill!  Rosalinda has always encouraged my own writing, so of course, it is a real pleasure to now be able to introduce this, her latest book, to all of you!

Sometimes I Don't Want To Sleep by Rosalinda Vargas

Dancing instead of sleeping.

First off, I have to say that the illustrations by Deborah Eve Alastra are gorgeous!  Their deep and vibrant colors are so culturally significant that they evoke a sentiment of familiarity to the reader.  I feel like I could have grown up in any of these images.

Sometimes I Don't Want To Sleep by Rosalinda Vargas

Working instead of sleeping.

The story itself deals with the all-too-familiar excuses of why the purposely-unnamed main character – the author allows the reader to be a part of the story by choosing not to make the book about any particular character – does not want to go to sleep yet.  She wants to see, hear, and live life.  Not go to bed!

Sometimes I Don't Want To Sleep by Rosalinda Vargas

Finally sleeping.

Finally, she can’t help herself anymore and has to go to sleep, reminding the reader that tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to continue exploring the world.  Sometimes I Don’t Want to Sleep is completely bilingual and includes a list of Spanish words to explore and learn at the end of the story.  Definitely a great resource for parents and educators working with children on their bilingual fluency.

Sometimes I Don't Want To Sleep by Rosalinda Vargas

Sometimes I Don't Want To Sleep by Rosalinda Vargas

As part of this book review, I am also giving away one copy of Sometimes I Don’t Want to Sleep.  If you would like to enter for a chance to win this book please leave a comment on this post with your email address (don’t worry it won’t be published anywhere) by no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 12, 2012.  The winner will be announced on this blog post by the end of next week.

You can also purchase a copy of Sometimes I Don’t Want to Sleep by visiting Rosalinda’s Book Shelf.

Rosalinda Vargas

Rosalinda Vargas

About the Author: Born and raised in Texas, Rosalinda Vargas is a new up and coming bilingual author. She writes children’s picture books and has started a new English/Spanish poetry collection for YA and Adults. Her poems are deep. They are written from childhood memories.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the author as part of a book tour. Juan of Words was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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