The children I work with are from a low-income neighborhood in historic South Central, Los Angeles. They are a creative, hopeful generation of Mexican or Central-American immigrants, full of love and kindness. Although most of them are bilingual, few are bi-literate. They read in English, and their families read in Spanish.
My students need the opportunity to read and discuss texts with their parents and, for many of them, this is only possible through bilingual books.
These resilient, independent, loving, and creative young people are striving to build futures full of hope, as they become global citizens in a multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual world. As an educator, I owe them the opportunity to grow as bi-literate citizens who celebrate their cultural heritage with equal ease in both languages.
It is a privilege to be able to spend a year teaching and learning from them.
Although more than 94% of my students are Hispanic and bilingual, few of them are bi-literate. Many of their parents only speak and read in Spanish, but my students' abilities to interpret printed text are limited to English. This realization led me to wonder how I could help families create a culture of print literacy. The obvious answer is to provide a bilingual lending library! Dual-language texts will afford my students and their families the opportunity to read and discuss books together. If my students trail their fingers under the words as they read in English, and parents do the same in Spanish, then the experience will help their family grow as bi-literate readers.
Given our current political climate, I believe that it is imperative to offer families a message of kindness and inclusivity through culturally relevant, supportive, and productive literacy experiences; and bilingual books are beneficial for everyone!
My goal is to order 49 bilingual books from AKJ Education. I will combine these with the 25 bilingual narrative and informational texts that I've already purchased. For each book, I will create a packet that contains discussion starters, retelling rubrics, and follow-up activities for each text.
This project will benefit my students because they will gain the understanding that being bilingual and bi-literate increases the depth of their insight and ability to make meaning in both languages. They will also realize that their cultural heritage is valued, respected, and part of the rich diversity that exists throughout America.
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