Why This Venezuelan-American Mom Started A Bilingual Children’s Book Series
Growing up, Susie Jaramillo remembers singing “Los Pollitos,” a bedtime song about a hen taking care of her hatchlings that is as popular in Latin America as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is in the US. Now a mom, the Venezuelan-American hoped to pass down these popular children’s stories to her own kids, except, when she went to the library or bookstore, Spanish-language tales weren’t in sight. That’s when she decided to create her own.
Starting in 2016, Canticos is a series of bilingual books, companion apps and singalong videos for little ones aimed at expanding inclusion and creating cultural pride among youth.
“If you’re Latino living in the United States, sometimes you have this feeling of otherness, and what I want to make clear to my children is that their language and their culture is a part of the American tapestry,” Jaramillo, a mother of two, told NBC News.
According to the news outlet, the US has more than 41 million Spanish-speakers, but less than 1 percent of all American books are in Spanish. Canticos is trying to fill the void. With seven picture books, telling the stories of Los Pollitos, Los Ratoncitos, Las Mañanitas and more, Jaramillo is sharing the rhymes she learned as a kid with children growing up in the US
“When I had my first child, I went online and thought: Where are all the board books of these songs that I grew up with” Jaramillo, a former co-founder of a Latino-focused New York advertising agency, told the Associated Press. “We’re always singing the American songs in Spanish, and our songs are great. Why aren’t people singing them in English?”
Catincos, which Jaramillo says is in high demand, is using hard books, apps and now a digital series through a partnership with Nickelodeon, which will soon begin selling Catincos toys, clothing and decor, is giving families who want to raise bilingual children more opportunities to do so.
For the children, it’s a fun way to stay or become connected to a culture that feels at once close yet distant.
“I like the songs, because some of them are really catchy,” a child told NBC News. “It teaches you that’s it’s important to learn more than one language,” another youth added about Catincos.
Canticos books are available at Target, Walmart, buybuy Baby and Barnes & Noble as well as online.