Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Niko's PICKS: 31 usos para mamá

31 usos para mamá, by Harriet Ziefert, Illustrations by Rebecca Douoghty

This short picturebook is PERFECT for beginning, FLES and immersion classes. On each page we see a separate illustration and a numbered "use" for moms in a single word or phrase. For example, some of the cutest uses are: taxista (Mom driving with her child in the back seat), doctora (Mom putting a bandage on a crying child's knee), batidora (Mom mixing batter for chocolate chip cookies). There are also more complicated and compound terms like recogepelotas, abrelatas, and paseamascotas. Kids will love the illustrations and easily recognize the many jobs that moms do. An excellent book for a unit on family... have students add their own "uses" to the list!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Riqui, Riqui, Riqui, Ran

Riqui, Riqui, Riqui, Ran: Canciones Para Jugar y Bailar (Collección Clave De Sol), by David Marquez

This wonderful collection of 32 popular songs from Venezuela and around the Spanish-speaking world is a great addition to any Spanish classroom. It comes with a CD for students to listen to and contains beautiful illustrations and lyrics. This is another book from the excellent Venezuelan publisher, Ediciones Ekare.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Tortillitas para Mamá

Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhymes, by Margot C. Griego, Betsy L. Bucks, Sharon S. Gilbert, and Laurel H. Kimbal, Illustrations by Barbara Cooney

This great collection of nursery rhymes from Latin America in Spanish and English. The text is simple and it includes instructions for finger play and movements to go with some of the rhymes. As is often the case with oral tradition rhymes that have been around for a long time, some of the rhymes include lines that will seem inappropriate or outdated (i.e., "... if I get my dress dirty, Mother will beat me.") If using the book with middle or high school students, this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about the meaning of the rhymes in a social/generational context. When using the rhymes with elementary-aged students, it might be best to avoid the more controversial ones. Still, an excellent addition to your classroom library!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!

Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! America's Sproutings, by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This fun volume of poems in Spanish and English includes tributes to 14 different foods that are native to the Americas. Foods include: blueberries, chili, papaya, vanilla, pumpkin and prickly pear. There is also good information and facts about the background of each food. The lyrical language of the poems is simple enough to use with beginners and FLES/immersion students. This is a great resource for a thematic unit about food, the Americas and Columbus, or poetry. The beautiful illustrations can also be used for pair work descriptions. Have students write their own tributes to their favorite foods! Niko dice: "Me encanta este libro!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Yo sé que el río me ama

Yo sé que el río me ama/I Know the River Loves Me, by Maya Christina Gonzalez

This beautifully illustrated book is great to use for a thematic unit on water rights, the environment, or nature. It would be a great to accompany La mujer que brillaba más que el sol (which we reviewed here). The text is presented in English and Spanish. The language is simple and can be used with beginners and FLES students (though some more poetic or expressive words might need to be pre-taught). This is another book from Children's Book Press - check them out. They are a non-profit business that consistently publishes interesting books with diverse characters, and environmental and social themes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lori's PICKS: Dreaming in Hindi

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, by Katherine Russell Rich
Today I will make a recommendation for adults/teachers! The author of this book started studying Hindi in New York and then decided to move to Udaipur, India for one year to study the language intensively. The book is part travel memoir, part synthesis of second language aquisition research! As the author goes through many different phases in aquiring greater and greater proficiency in her new language, she wrestles with what is happening to her - the silent period, the peaks and valleys of vocabulary acquisition, cultural learning, and the ups and downs of her emotions as well. What a wonderful book for anyone interesting in teaching or learning languages!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Dos libros sobre Martin Luther King, Jr.

Un Libro Ilustrado Sobre Martin Luther King, Hijo, by David A. Alder, illustrations by Robert Casilla

Feliz Cumpleanos, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, illustrations by J. Brian Pinkney

Both books about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. are aimed at students grades 1-3 (native speakers of Spanish), though they would work well with beginning or intermediate students of Spanish as a second language. I love the illustrations by Brian Pinkney in the Feliz Cumpleanos book, though both sets of illustrations are nice and offer many different scenes that students could use to describe in pairs or in small groups. An excellent set of books for teaching about this important man!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Niko's PICKS: El mundo de los deportes

"El mundo de los deportes" SERIES: Deportes de invierno, Deportes de verano, by Isidro Sánchez and Carme Peris

These two fun books are perfect for elementary and level 1 Spanish (Deportes de Primavera and Deportes de Otoño don't seem to exist - anyone know why?) The illustrations are fun and very kid-friendly, and can be used as the basis for description activities and a seasons unit. Most of the text is simple, though some vocabulary might need tweaking and/or pre-teaching for beginning proficiency students. For example: "Siguiendo las instrucciones de monitor, no es difícil aprender a coger los bastones y a situar bien los esquíes." A lovely series published by Barron's.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Niko's PICKS: El bosque de mi abecedario

El bosque de mi abecedario, by Pedro Villar, Illustrations by Miguel Calatayud
Filled with fanciful poems and delightful illustrations, this book would be a nice addition to a unit on poetry and imagery. Despite the reference to the alphabet, the text is a bit too advanced for FLES or elementary-aged students - it is better suited for an intermediate or advanced student.

Last spring I was fortunate enough to attend a wonderful talk presented by the illustrator, Mr. Miguel Calatayud, at the Instituto Cervantes in New York. After the fascinating talk, he was kind enough to sign our books. So great!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Celebra la Navidad y el Dia de los Reyes Magos

Celebra la Navidad y el Dia de los Reyes Magos, by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

If you are planning a Three Kings Day celebration with your students, Santillana has the book for you! In the fiction portion of the book, Carlitos writes a letter to the Three Kings and asks for many gifts. Then he writes another letter asking for a present for his brother instead, since his brother helped him to ride a bike. In the non-fiction section, we learn how el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos is celebrated in different countries around the world. There is an excellent online resource guide available for free download. This book comes from a series entitled Cuentos para celebrar that covers many different holidays. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Quinito, día y noche

Quinito, día y noche/Quinito, Day and Night
by Ina Cumpiano, Illustrations by José Ramírez

This lovely bilingual Spanish/English picturebook comes from another one of my all-time favorite publishers, the nonprofit Children's Book Press. The story follows young Quinito, his younger sister Clara and his older brother Juan through their daily activities. Throughout the day they encounter opposites like temprano/tarde, bajo/alto, triste/feliz and arriba/abajo. The text is very simple, yet playful and nicely contextualized and it provides excellent vocabulary practice for beginning students - perfect for FLES, immersion, and Checkpoint A/level 1 students of Spanish. Just don't forget to cover up the English text on each page! ¡Fantástico!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Frida

Frida, by Jonah Winter, Illustrations by Jeanette Winter

A great companion book to yesterday's review of Diego, comes Frida - another book written by the mother-son team of  Jeanette Winter and Jonah Winter. This is the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and all her many trials and tribulations. Through Winter's colorful and whimsical art and eloquent text, we learn about Frida's tragic childhood, her struggles and her triumphs in art, and more! The story really highlights Frida's tenacity and strength in the face of adversity - a nice lesson to share with students. The text in Spanish can be challenging, though - this book would best be used with intermediate or advanced students.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Diego

Diego, by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Jeanette Winter

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I love Jeanette Winter's images so much that I will buy practically any book that she illustrates. Diego just happens to be one that I can also use for teaching! Son Jonah wrote a simple text (the text is bilingual Spanish and English) that describes Diego's early life and career as a painter and muralist. Though simple language, the Spanish text might be best suited for intermediate/advanced students. Each beautiful illustration is chock full of iconography and surrounded in a folk art style colorful border. The book would make an excellent addition to a thematic unit about Mexican art - especially when coupled with Frida - also by Jonah and Jeanetter Winter (to be reviewed tomorrow - stay tuned!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Niko's PICKS: Hombre de color

Hombre de color, by Jerome Ruiller

This short book is an excellent way to talk to children about race and identity. In the story, the main character - a young black boy - talks about being called "a person of color," but then describes how white people "change color":

"Yo, hombre de color, cuando nací era negro. Crecí siendo negro. Si tomo el sol o tengo miedo, o enfermo, sigo siendo negro. Mientras que tú hombre blanco, naciste sonrosado, si tomas el sol enrojeces y si tienes frío te vuelves azul. ¿Y tú me llamas a mí hombre de color?"

Great for learning color words in Spanish - and also available in French.