Finding My Heroes – a guest post

Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).

Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on Latinaish.com and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.

Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.

Rene_Colato_Lainez

Finding My Heroes

by René Colato Laínez

I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.

When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.

One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”

I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”

I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.

My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.

To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!

______________________________________________________________________________________

Dear readers:

When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.

Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.

I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

En español:

Querido lectores,

Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.

¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.

Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

René Colato Laínez is a Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books, including Playing Lotería, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René lives in Los Angeles and  he is a teacher in an elementary school, where he is known as “the teacher full of stories.” Visit him at renecolatolainez.com.

The Giveaway

L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.

To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

10 Vídeos Inspiradores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

inspiration2

Ya saben que me encanta buscar vídeos interesantes y divertidos en YouTube, pero aquí hay unos vídeos que encontré recientemente que me inspiran y quiero compartir los con ustedes. Hay algo para todos. Disfruten!

You guys already know that I love finding interesting and amusing videos on YouTube, but here are some videos I found recently that inspire me and that I want to share with you. There’s something for everyone. Enjoy!

#1. Este video se llama “Neymar humillado por peruano” pero no creo que fue humillado Neymar. Es sólo diversión amigable, y “el peruano” es muy talentoso.

This video is called “Neymar humiliated by a Peruvian” but I don’t think he was humiliated. It’s all in good fun, and “the Peruvian” is very talented.

#2. “A Shop in El Salvador Feb. 2013″ – Qué lindo el sonido de estas flautas, tocadas por un tendero en El Salvador.

How beautiful the sound of these flutes, played by a shopkeeper in El Salvador.

#3. “El tortillero de San Marcos, El Salvador” – Me encanta esta video de un tortillero en El Salvador. (¡Sí! Un hombre que puede hacer tortillas – su historia es muy interesante.)

I love this video of a male tortilla maker in El Salvador. (Yes! A man who can make tortillas – his story is really interesting.)

#4. “The Two Sides of Playa El Tunco, El Salvador” – Este video muestra los dos lados de la Playa El Tunco – la vida de turistas que disfrutan de la playa y la vida de la gente humilde que vive allá.

This video shows the two sides of Playa El Tunco – the lives of tourists who enjoy the beach and the the lives of the humble people who live there.

#5. “Calle 13 – La Vuelta al Mundo” – Super linda canción, linda letra, lindo vídeo y lindo el mensaje. Me encanta Calle 13.

Super nice song, nice lyrics, nice video, nice message. I love Calle 13.

#6. “Niña de 6 años cocinando – Ana Victoria” – Me encanta que puede cocinar este niñita y que está practicando su español con su mami. (Gracias a Trisha Ruth por compartir el vídeo conmigo.)

I love that this little girl can cook and is practicing her Spanish with her mother. (Thanks to Trisha Ruth for sharing this video with me.)

#7. “Lazaro Arbos Auditions – American Idol Season 12″ – Este muchacho se llama Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro es un inmigrante Cubano y a pesar de que tiene un tartamudeo, no afecta su capacidad de cantar en American Idol.

This young man is named Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro is a Cuban immigrant and despite having a stutter, it does not affect his ability to sing on American Idol.

#8. “Corto Niños Vallenatos” – ¡Talentosos esos niños que tocan música en Colombia!

These kids who play music in Colombia are so talented!

#9. “El Cajero de la felicidad” – A veces las empresas grandes pueden tener un gran impacto en una forma significativa.

Sometimes big companies can make a big impact in a meaningful way.

#10. “Cumpleaños de una habitante de la calle en el centro de Bogotá” – La señora vive en la calle, pero no importa – es su cumpleaños y un joven insiste que lo celebre.

The woman lives on the street, but it doesn’t matter – it’s her birthday and a young man insists that she celebrates.

¿Cuál vídeo te gusto más? Por qué? … Which video did you like most? Why?

Los 3 Agradecimientos

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Kate Ware

Image source: Kate Ware

Vi un programa con Carlos que se llamaba “The Happiness Advantage” [La Ventaja de la Felicidad] y aprendimos algunos “tips” para ser más feliz. Uno de los consejos se llama “Los 3 Agradecimientos” y es muy fácil de hacer. Cada día, (no importa cuándo), debes pensar en tres cosas por que tienes gratitud. Tienen que ser tres cosas diferentes cada día sin repetir. Este método está científicamente demostrado que ayuda a aumentar la felicidad. Si deseas mejorar la felicidad de tu matrimonio, puedes hacerlo en pareja cuando se acuestan a dormir por la noche.

Quieres hacerlo conmigo? Voy a comenzar.

1. Estoy agradecida por queso. Lo amo. (Es que tengo hambre ahorita y estoy pensando en pizza.)

2. Estoy agradecida por mi trabajo. Me encanta escribir – y más, me encanta escribir desde mi casa.

3. Estoy agradecida por la hamaca que pedí ayer, y la esperanza de días soleados pronto por venir.

Ahora, deja tus tres agradecimientos en los comentarios!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Carlos and I saw a program that was called “The Happiness Advantage” and we learned some tips to be happier. One of the tips is called “The 3 Gratitudes” and it’s very easy to do. Every day (it doesn’t matter when) – you should take note of three things that you’re grateful for. They have to be three different things every day without repeating. This method is scientifically proven to increase happiness. If you want to improve the happiness of your marriage, it can be done as a couple, sharing your “3 Gratitudes” at night before you fall asleep.

Want to do it with me? I’ll start.

1. I am thankful for cheese. I love it. (I’m hungry right now and thinking about pizza.)

2. I am thankful for my job. I love to write – and I love writing from my house.

3. I am grateful for the hammock I ordered yesterday, and the hope of sunny days soon to come.

Now, leave your “3 Gratitudes” in the comments!

El paisaje celeste de los días de enero

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

januarysky

Hoy me desperté y mi primer pensamiento fue, “El sol! El cielo celeste!” Me sentí que había salido de la cárcel despues de una sentencía de viente años y que yo estaba viendo de nuevo la luz del día por primera vez. Es que toda la semana pasada los días fuerón iguales.

Por una semana entera no ví el sol y el cielo de color gris estaba sin nubes – o una gran nube que cubria todo – no estoy segura. Los días no parecian días … más como otro tipo de noche, una noche un poco menos oscura. Como escribio Junot Díaz, los días eran “el color de palomas de castilla.”

Por eso me hizo sonreír de felicidad ver el cielo celeste y a mi amigo, el sol, esta mañana. En ese momento, un poema por salvadoreño Roque Dalton me vino a la mente. El poema se llama, “Como tú” y decidí leerlo para ustedes – espero que les guste.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today I woke up and my first thought was, “The sun! The blue sky!” I felt like I had just left prison after a twenty year sentence and that I was seeing daylight again for the first time. It’s that this past week, all the days passed the same.

For a whole week I didn’t see the sun and the grey-colored sky was without clouds – or a great cloud covered everything – I’m not sure. The days didn’t look like days… more like another type of night, a night that is a little less dark. As Junot Díaz wrote, the days were “the color of pigeons.”

That’s why I smiled out of happiness to see the blue sky and my friend, the sun, this morning. In that moment, a poem by Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton came to mind. The poem is called “Like you” and I decided to read it for you today – I hope you like it.

En Transición

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Amir Kuckovic

Image source: Amir Kuckovic

¿Qué significa “transición”?

Según dictionary.com, “transición” se define como “movimiento, pasaje, o el cambio de una posición” – también, “el período de tiempo durante que algo cambia de un estado o etapa a otra.”

O sea, “transición” es una buenísima palabra por describir el estado en que me encuentro.

Todavia no sé exactamente cuales cambios busco, y cuales van a suceder, pero yo sé que necesito menos tiempo en frente de esta pantalla, menos tiempo sentada, menos tiempo gastado en cosas que no valen.

Yo sé que necesito mucho tiempo por pensar, escribir, mover, estar con mi familia, observando personas reales y las maravillas del mundo natural. Necesito comer comida sana, beber más agua, dormir más, leer los libros que están acumulando polvo iguál que mi.

Estas no son resoluciones del Año Nuevo, son necesidades – cosas que mi alma me estaba pidiendo hace mucho tiempo.

Un cambio que ya hice fue a la página “about” aquí en Latinaish.com. Espero que les guste.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

What does “transition” mean?

According to dictionary.com, “transition” is defined as “movement, passage, or a change of position” – also, “the period of time during which something changes from one state or stage to another.”

In other words, “transition” is a very good word to describe the state in which I find myself.

I still do not know exactly what I’m looking to change, and what will happen, but I know I need less time in front of this screen, less time sitting, less time spent on things that are not worth it.

I know I need a lot of time to think, write, move, be with my family, watching real people and the wonders of the natural world. I need to eat healthy food, drink more water, sleep more, read books that are gathering dust like me.

These are not New Year’s resolutions – these are needs – things that my soul has been asking me for for a long time.

One change I’ve already made is to the “about” page here on Latinaish. I hope you like it.

Bilingual Parenting Takes Commitment… and Re-commitment

Sometimes I think I have the bilingual parenting thing down. We get into a groove and I’m speaking Spanish to my kids and they, more and more, are responding to me in Spanish – but it’s inevitable that just when we’ve hit our stride and are on the road to fluency, we will have a setback.

One big problem for me is that I don’t speak Spanish when I’m stressed or tired or very busy. The other day I woke up and realized, “My God, I’ve been stressed and tired and very busy the past few weeks! I’ve had so much on my mind and so many deadlines. I’ve barely spoken Spanish to my kids at all!”

This is when I kick myself in the nalgas and promise to start all over again.

Yesterday morning before my younger son left for school, I warned him not to run to the bus as he usually does, because a slick layer of frost covered the ground.

“Cuando venga el bus, no vayas corriendo, okay? El suelo está bien liso, entiendes?”

My son tilted his head not unlike a dog when you speak to it. I could almost see the words enter his ear, twist themselves inside his brain and translate one-by-one into English. He spoke aloud as he decoded the message.

“When the bus comes… don’t run… because…the ground is slippery?”

He still understands me, but there is more lag time. Then when he speaks, he doesn’t even realize he’s mixing English and Spanish in ways I’ve never even heard before.

After school he asked me what day we’re going to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.

“El viente dos,” I said.
“Oh, el twenty dos,” he answered.

There’s no point in lamenting wasted time and stalled progress. I’m human, I was tired, I spent weeks speaking very little Spanish to my kids who I desperately want to be fully bilingual. It happens. Seguimos adelante.

____

Related: SpanglishBaby: Raising a Bilingual Child is Always a Work in Progress

Keep Calm & Respetense Uno al Otro

If you’re a fútbol fan, chances are you know a big game is on tonight. El Salvador vs. Mexico. (The U.S. vs. Guatemala also!)

If you’re Salvadoran or Mexican, you know that games between the two tend to stir up some animosity. Even though a lot of people tell me I’m naive to think I can make a difference, each time Mexico and El Salvador play each other, I tend to make a public appeal that the teams, as well as the fans, respect each other and the game. Carlos has told me before that I’m wasting my time and that the two will always be bitter rivals. There’s no problem with a little rivalry, but I still think we can be respectful rivals.

If I keep even one Salvadoran from throwing things at Chicharito, or encourage even one fan of El Tri to rethink and ultimately decide not to make an ignorant comment about Salvadorans, then I’ll be happy.

Here are two graphics I made which I encourage you to share around social media. Help me spread the word. Keep Calm and Respect Each Other. Mantengan la Calma y Respetense Uno al Otro.

Click for larger version.

Click for larger version.

While I was creating these graphics, I stumbled upon a photo of President Obama holding a blue T-shirt. I couldn’t help but do a little photoshopping.

Looks like Pres. Obama is a reluctant fan of La Selecta. I think his facial expression reflects what a lot of us are feeling about tonight’s game. We’ll put on the azul, but maybe we’re not feeling all that hopeful.

Either way, buena suerte to both teams. Win or lose, I hope they give us a good game.

Stories from el Corazón

On SpanglishBaby I talked about a non-profit organization called Story Corps which records people’s true stories to create a sort of archive of American history for future generations. Some of these stories have been animated, and I shared a really hilarious yet heartwarming video from the Story Corps collection called Facundo the Great – (go check it out on SpanglishBaby!)

While I clicked around on the Story Corps website, I found several other animated stories I loved just as much as Facundo the Great. Here are two more, and if you love them mucho, check out Story Corps for más.

Secando al Sol

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is below!

“Mamá, la secadora no está secando,” dijo mi hijo mayor. Fui a ver que pasó y tenia razón – la secadora no queria ni encender. Me dejó escapar algunas malas palabras y luego hice lo que tenía que hacer. Saqué la ropa mojada y salí a la yarda, buscando una cuerda para tender la ropa a secar en el sol.

Resultó que no tuvimos suficiente dinero en nuestra cuenta por comprar una nueva secadora ni arreglar la que tenemos. Tuvimos que esperar una semana antes que pudieramos hacer cualquier cosa.

El primer día no estuve feliz y mi actitud era algo negativa. Traté de recordar que hay gente en el mundo que no sólo secan la ropa sin máquina cada día pero, mucho más fatigoso y difícil, lavan la ropa a mano también.

El segundo día mi actitud estaba un poco mejor pero algo chistosa. Empeze a imaginar que yo estaba practicando una habilidad de supervivencia y que mi familia estaba dependiendo de mí. “No estás orgulloso de mi?” pregunté a Carlos mientras doblé unas toallas rígidos pero secas.

“Orgulloso?” me preguntó.
“Sí, orgulloso que tu esposa todavia puede lavar tu ropa sin las conveniencias modernas!” dije.
“Oh…claro,” dijó Carlos en una manera poca convincente. (Y con razón, porque secando ropa al sol es algo común en El Salvador.)

En el momento que pudieramos llamar a alguien por arreglar la secadora, ya había empezado a gustarme secar la ropa a “la manera antigua”. Cada día esperaba tomar un descanso de la computadora, respirar el aire fresco, sentir la brisa y el calor del sol, escuchar los pájaros. Tener que colgar la ropa a secar me obligaba a salir afuera – algo que por lo general evito, pero sé que desesperadamente necesito hacer más a menudo.

Al final, tener la secadora quebrada fue una cosa positiva porque me recordó la importancia de vivir cada día – realmente vivir lo – no sólo dejarlo pasar.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

“Mommy, the dryer isn’t drying!” said my older son. I went to see what happened and he was right – the dryer didn’t even want to turn on. I let out some bad words and then did what I had to do. I took the wet clothes and went out into the yard, looking for a rope to hang the clothes to dry in the sun.

It turned out we didn’t have enough money in our account to buy a new dryer or to even fix the one we have. We had to wait a week before we could do anything.

The first day I was not happy and my attitude was somewhat negative. I tried to remember that there are people in the world that not only dry the clothes without a machine every day, but even more tiresome and difficult, they wash the clothes by hand too.

The second day my attitude was a little better but funny, too. I started to imagine that I was practicing a survival skill and that my family was depending on me. “Are you proud of me?” I asked Carlos as I folded stiff but dry towels.

“Proud?” he asked.
“Yes, proud that your wife can still wash your clothes without modern conveniences!” I said.
“Oh … sure,” Carlos said in a way that wasn’t very convincing. (And rightly so, because sun-drying laundry is common in El Salvador.)

By the time we could call someone to fix the dryer, I had begun to like drying clothes “the old fashioned way.” Every day I looked forward to taking a break from the computer, breathing fresh air, feeling the breeze and the warm sun, listening to the birds. Having to hang clothes to dry forced me to go outside – something I generally avoid, but I know I desperately need to do more often.

In the end, having broken the dryer was a positive thing because it reminded me the importance of living every day – really live it – not just letting it pass by.

Comedy + Undocumented Immigration: Do they mix?

Scene from film short, La Línea

When I received an E-mail from a man named Evan about a film described as “An indie feature comedy about undocumented immigration” – I was intrigued but also wary. “How can undocumented immigration be funny?” I asked myself.

I continued to read Evan’s E-mail, giving him the benefit of the doubt and followed the link he gave me to a Kickstarter campaign where I could find out more. (Kickstarter is a website where one is able to raise funds for projects.) The project, Sun Belt Express, is a film he wants to produce – and, well, I’ll let him tell you about it.

Even after viewing this video and sensing real sincerity from this guy, I was still a little skeptical. Mixing comedy with such a sensitive topic wouldn’t be easy, and if done without care, could do a lot of harm. I didn’t want to endorse something I wasn’t totally certain about so I asked if I could see the full length version of the film short, La Línea, to get a sense of what he’s up to. After watching it, I was sold. I can see why La Línea received the recognition that it did at film festivals and I can’t wait to see more from Evan and his team. What they’re working on is something special – something that deserves to be made.

The more I think about it, what could be more representative of Latinos than the ability to find humor in even the most difficult of situations? It’s one of the things I identify with and admire most about the culture.

I started to think about Carlos’s journey to the United States and some of the stories he’s told me – and yes, there are some funny ones – Maybe I’ll share them here one day, but for now, if you want to know more about Sun Belt Express, click over to their Kickstarter campaign, support them with a donation, and spread the word so they can get funded before the fast approaching deadline.