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This Bilingual Children’s Book Will Teach Little Ones About The First Latina Who Went To Space

Instagram / @pattyrodriguez

The beloved bilingual children’s book series Lil’ Libros announced the subject of its latest storybook, and we’re probably (read: definitely!) more excited than the babies the series targets: It’s Dr. Ellen Ochoa.

A veteran astronaut, Ochoa was the first Latina to ever travel to space. In 1993, she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She’d journey beyond our planet four more times, including on the STS-66, STS-96 and STS-110. In total, the Mexican-American history-maker logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.

On Thursday, Patty Rodriguez, who co-founded Lil’ Libros five years ago with her best friend Ariana Stein, excitedly dropped the news on Instagram.

“‘The Solar System with/ El sistema solar con Ellen’ [is] a bilingual book that will celebrate the journey of a trailblazer. A book in English and Spanish that I hope inspires all our children to know that no dream is too big. Proof that we can touch the stars,” she wrote in a caption on a slideshow of Ochoa and of the cover of the book.

Rodriguez also noted how thrilled she was to have interviewed Ochoa, a fellow Latina from Los Angeles, for the book.

“My voice was shaking and my heart beating so fast,” she said of their encounter.

Rodriguez and Stein launched the Los Angeles-based publishing company in 2014. Since then, they have released more than 15 Spanish-English board books that teach numbers, letters, shapes and words in English and Spanish. One of its most popular sellers are its biographical installments, which include “The Life of Selena (La vida de Selena)” and “The Life of Celia” (La vida de Celia),” among others.

“At Lil’ Libros, the mission is … to elevate our stories and voices. And thanks to you we have been able to create beautiful books that celebrate who we are and our contributions,” Rodriguez added in the post.

The book, which does not have a release date yet, shows a youthful Ochoa proudly standing in her orange space suit, holding onto her helmet, among a starry night.

“This image of her brings me so much pride and joy. Dr. Ellen Ochoa, in her space suit and the American flag. Just wow,” ⁣Rodriguez said.

Ochoa, who was also the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center, and its first-ever Latinx leader, is a brilliant barrier-breaker, and soon the babies in our lives will learn about her life and legacy through the illustrated, bilingual book — that is, if we don’t keep it for ourselves.

Read: Selena’s Story Just Got Turned Into A Bilingual Children’s Book And We Are Pumped To Read It Because Anything For Salinas

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If You Want To Raise Your Child To Be Bilingual, Here Are Some Easy Tips To Make It Happen

Culture

If You Want To Raise Your Child To Be Bilingual, Here Are Some Easy Tips To Make It Happen

Charlein Gracia / Unsplash

One of the biggest challenges faced by migrant families is deciding how to better get their kids to speak both languages. In the case of the Latino population in the United States and other Anglo countries, these idiomas are Spanish and English. Parents face the life altering decision of either fully embracing English at home or keeping the mother tongue alive. The choice might seem easy, but it involves a variety of factors. You might want your kid to be fully fluent in Spanish but don’t want them to feel left out when they go to school and their English is not there yet. You might be alone in the country and want your kids to fully assimilate, even though you don’t want them to lose your language and eventually forget your heritage. They say language shapes worlds and that is totally right: we use words to make sense of reality, to explain who we are to ourselves and to others.

Good news is, kids are really como esponjas, todo lo absorben. Children have an amazing capacity to assimilate words and concepts, and can easily switch from one language to the other if you give them the time and space to learn the difference between the two. By the time they are 18 months old, kids start categorizing the world: that is when they learn shapes, simple concepts like open/close and in/out, and also when they can start differentiating between languages. Like anything when it comes to parenting, there are no cookie cutter solutions or formulas, but here are some tips that can help out. 

No baby talk, ever.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

It is tempting to do baby talk with your little one. But it does them no good. Babies need to hear clear words, and going goo goo ga ga is not helping them. A good technique is to describe your actions: “I am changing your nappy, I am throwing it to the trash can, I am wiping your butt”. Or, the alternative: “Te estoy cambiando el pañal, ahora lo voy a tirar a la basura y te voy a limpiar las pompas”. Even if you are not raising a bilingual kid, this is the first rule: just dump the baby talk, porfas

Be proud of your heritage.

Children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for. In the current political climate, it is easy to fall into the trap and feel like being bilingual is shameful rather than something to be extremely proud of. Give racist gringos the metaphorical finger, chin up, speak up and show pride. If you are afraid of speaking Spanish your kid will be too. It is easier said than done, but establishing the richness of multiculturalism is the only way to make society more inclusive, poquito a poco

One parent speaks English, the other speaks Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @duallanguagefamily

This is an approach that is easy to take if one of the parents is a gringo. Kids can quickly understand that a parent talks to them in Spanish and the other one in English, and as they are learning to talk and bulking up on their vocabulary, they can categorize words. This is much clearer than saying “agua, water” while pointing to glass, as it might be too much information that is not put into the Spanish or English mental drawers right away. Also, it creates a great sense of complicity between parent and chaparrito

Spanish only con los abuelitos.

Credit: Instagram. @spanish.mama

Another good strategy is to have the grandparents speak to the child in Spanish, which also creates a special bond with the child. If you are lucky enough to have your Spanish-speaking parents or in-laws in your city, program regular play dates slash Spanish lessons. This can also give you and your partner some time alone, or some relaxing me-time if you are a single parent. 

Language is fun, so don’t make it too serious.

Credit: Instagram. @maplebearglobal

Play games in your native language. For example, ‘I spy’, bingo or memory, key activities for incorporating new words into your little one’s vocabulary. You can also play a good old-fashioned LOTERIA. 

Turn life into a lively musical!

Credit: Instagram. @lumunariafunspanish

All kids love, love, love music. You can sing songs, dance and play music in Spanish. What about a daily dance session with La Sonora Santanera or Los Angeles Azules? Melody is a great way to help them remember things, as new information sticks to their tiny and amazing brains by repetition. You can also play English and Spanish versions of their favorite songs… Let it go, let it go…..! Libre soy, libre soy!

Never underestimate the importance of numbers.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

One of the first forms of abstraction that human beings learn is numbers. As your kids start counting, introduce both languages. There are some fun activities that you can do, such as taking them to the park and counting each push of the swing, first in English up to ten, luego hasta el diez. You can also get them to count characters or objects in books as you read to them at night. 

Teach them the Spanish version of key introductory phrases.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

“My name is…”, a key phrase that establishes a child’s individuality. There are such phrases that make social life possible. Teach your kids the Spanish formulation. 

Listen to the radio.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

Listen to radio programs in Spanish, including popular music programs and channels for kids. Thanks to services like Spotify it is easy now to listen to stations from all around the world. 

 Playtime!

Credit: Instagram. @language.trainers

Organize playtime with other children who speak Spanish. This will be key for building lifelong friendships. Parenting can sometimes be isolating, so this will also be beneficial for you, as you will be able to express yourself in your mother tongue, which sometimes makes for more intimate and lasting friendships 

No te rindas.

Credit: Instagram. @narrreyang

Like all things concerning parenting, raising a bilingual will involve plenty of patience on your part. Some days it might seem like your chiquito doesn’t want to say hola. However, just hearing you speak your native language will help your child learn it.

Yeah, sometimes your kids end up watching TV.

Credit: Giphy. @nickjr

But you can make the best of it in those times in which you feel you are the worst parent on Earth because you need to do the laundry or some work and your kids end up watching TV. Streaming services like Netflix provide the opportunity to change the language settings to Spanish, so the next time they watch PJ Masks or Paw Patrol they can actually learn some new words. Because dialogue in cartoons tends to be very descriptive, this will help them associate images and palabras

Attend cultural events in Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @ponlenhingles

Many communities in the United States organize events in Spanish, such as playtime, mother’s and father’s groups and concerts. Attend as many as possible, show your kid that your language is awesome, something that will open doors rather than close them. 

READ: This Bilingual Children’s Book Will Teach Little Ones About The First Latina Who Went To Space

This Author Is Writing Children’s Books For Central American Kids Explaining Deportations

Culture

This Author Is Writing Children’s Books For Central American Kids Explaining Deportations

randyertll / Instagram

Randy Jurado Ertll has been writing novels and children’s books for well over a decade, all with the mission to inspire his fellow Central Americans about the possibilities that abound for them in the U.S., and in the fields of public service and politics.

The author of multiple books and novels, including children’s illustrated book, “The Adventures of El Cipitio,” Randy Jurado Ertll has used literature as a means to help others stay woke.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“It’s important for us to be seen and heard through books that are bilingual. My goal is to make my literature accepted and to be recognized and valued because we haven’t been valued as a whole, a community,” Jurado Ertll says in an exclusive interview with mitú.  

Born in Los Angeles to a Salvadoran mother in the 1970s, Jurado Ertll is a product of what can be accomplished with absolute grit and determination, despite being part of a group that has been on the margins of society—the children of deported immigrants.

When he was just eight months old, his mother was deported back to El Salvador and Jurado Ertll went to live with her until the age of five.

“People think it only happens under Trump, but it’s been happening forever but people forget,” Jurado Ertll says about deportations.

After his mom’s deportation, he tried making the most of living in a foreign land and soaked up as much as he could about the culture.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“That helped me and gave me an opportunity to learn first—hand the history and culture [of El Salvador]. It shaped my world view,” Jurado Ertll says.

Once he returned home for elementary school, he had to completely relearn the English language and says it was “kind of like a rebirth experience.”

He grew up in South Central Los Angeles during a time when there were few Latinos in his neighborhood. He was a student of the Los Angeles Unified School District until he was accepted into a program to study at a high school in Minnesota.

After high school, he returned to California to study at Occidental College and obtained his master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University. He then went on to be a communications director in Washington, D.C. for a congressional member and also wrote numerous opinion columns for newspapers across the country including the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Jurado Ertll published his first book in 2009.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

His titles include “Hope in Times of Darkness” about his experience as a Salvadoran American, and a novel with surreal elements about a three-foot mythical creature titled “The Lives and Times of El Cipitio.”

“The Lives and Times of El Cipitio” is a surreal novel, I wanted to use lots of symbolism,” Jurado Ertll says. “I wanted to create an anti-hero that is evil but becomes good, a gangster that runs for mayor of LA then president, and the novel talks about how he evolves.”

When demand for his books increased, Jurado Ertll knew it was time to start bilingual books to inspire readers.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

He then created “The Adventures of El Cipitio.”

“The Adventures of El Cipitio” is more of a feel-good, illustrated book.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“Kids need to feel good and proud, and see themselves in words and illustrations they can see themselves in,” he says.

Although Jurado Ertll has written several books to put the stories of more Central Americans like him to diversify bookshelves and tell the stories of all types of Latinos, one story he hasn’t quite written about in depth is his own deportation story.

“[The] story hasn’t been explored or told as much because it’s traumatizing—it distorts your sense of safety and belonging, and you can make it positive or negative,” Jurado Ertll says.

“It made me into a resilient person. There are other kids who have suffered more than I have. I wanted to empower people. If you born here, you can come back [after being deported.] Lots of people do that, but their stories are not told,” he continues.

Jurado Ertll has certainly chosen to take his experiences and make it a positive one.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

Jurtado Ertll’s books are sold in Costco and Amazon, and he also continues to present his books at book fairs and events across the country.

READ: Elizabeth Acevedo Has Been Awarded The Carnegie Medal — The First Time A Writer Of Color Has Won In The Award’s History

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