If you follow us on Instagram or use our Accelerate program, it’s no surprise to you that here at Calico we’re huge fans of multilingual and multicultural children’s literature.  We love bilingual children’s books, and we love them even more when they’re all in Spanish, and we love them even more when they’re culturally authentic.

Drum roll, please: we’re giving away a title that fits the bill all three ways.

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Meet Alma

For our giveaway, Candlewick Press has graciously provided copies of both the Spanish version and the English version of a new children’s book, Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre (Alma and How She Got Her Name) by Juana Martinez-Neal.  Here’s how Candlewick describes it:

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

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Teaching Ideas

This book is available on Amazon in English and in Spanish.  It really is a sweet, sweet story, and it has the stamp of approval from my children.  Let’s look at some ways you could use these books in children’s Spanish journey:
  • Read the English version with children in conjunction with our Stories Online Level B Culture Capsule “Families: Two Surnames?”
  • Adapt the Spanish version to comprehensible, repetitive language for your early language class.  The story lends itself to this very well.  For example, in the section about her great-grandmother:
    Papá dijo –Esperanza era tu bisabuela, Alma. Quería viajar por el mundo.
    Alma dijo –¡El mundo es muy grande! Yo quiero viajar por el mundo. Yo soy Esperanza.
    Then, in the next section,
    Papá dijo –José era tu abuelo, Alma. Era un artista. Quería pintar a nuestra gente.
    Alma dijo –¡Yo soy artista! ¡Quiero pintarlo todo! Yo soy José.
    I think you can see how this would lend itself to a beautiful reflection project on personal identity.  Even if they could only do this for one person in their family – wow!
  • Use the information about Alma’s familia to draw a family tree and identify who each person is to her.
  • Make a list of the actions Alma wants/likes to do (viajar, pintar, leer, buscar flores).  Then, compare and contrast which of your learners also like to do these things.
  • Explore the concept of what talismán a family might choose if they believed like Pura that nuestros ancestros estaban siempre a nuestro lado.
  • Explore the signs defending las causas justas like Candela did, and ask learners what they would write on a sign, and for what causa justa.
  • Read the Spanish version with an AP Spanish class and ask them to do interpersonal speaking and presentational tasks on the question “¿Cómo obtuviste tu nombre?” in the AP theme of Personal and Public Identities.

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How to Win Alma (x2!)

We’ll give away these books on Friday, May 18.  How can you win?  Just comment (and then watch for your notifications!) – tell us here on the blog, on our Instagram, on Twitter, or on Facebook:
How did you get your name?
SinceI have to answer this question all the time, I’ll start.
Sara significa <<princesa>>.  Yo tengo cuatro hermanos.  Soy la menor y la única chica.  Yo soy la princesa.  Soy Sara.
My parents had four boys before they “finally” got a girl- me! Consequently, they couldn’t pin down just two girl names so I have three.  My mom “won” with Sara first, my father with Elizabeth after, and then I have a middle name too.  Little-known fact: Sara-Elizabeth is actually my first name.  It’s a pain with computer systems that restrict names to 12 characters, that’s for sure!
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell is the mom of 3 bilingual children, a Spanish teacher, and the chief storyteller at Calico Spanish.

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