It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
It will be 2020 in a few days’ time. Hence, we thought today will be perfect to launch our overarching theme for the coming year: Year Of International Literature or #ReadIntl2020. My reading goal for the year is to read and feature books coming from at least 30 countries.
Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:
Books that have been translated into English from their original languages.
Books published in English but written or illustrated by non-native English speakers.
Books written or illustrated by People of Colour
We will still be having our usual quarterly reading themes which I will announce as well this week. For those who have been our blogging friends for awhile now, you would know that we also try to offer a measure of flexibility in terms of our themes, to provide us with access to a wider variety of reading materials. What can we do? There are simply books that manage to find us at the perfect moment, and we just have to share them with you all! Hence, there may be times when the books fit our quarterly reading theme, but may not necessarily fit our #ReadIntl2020. Alternatively, we may sometimes feature international titles that only fit very loosely to our quarterly themes. This gives us opportunity to maneouvre around our reading spaces, as it should be.
This week, I am happy to share these two bilingual titles that made me joyful. I hope they make you smile as well.
Salsa Lullaby [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Jen Arena Illustrated by Erika Meza
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (2019)
ISBN: 0525579737 (ISBN13: 9780525579731). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.
This is a book best read with a great deal of music and movement. In fact, I think it will also work well as a board book since it has very few words – most are deliciously bilingual – with the art taking center stage.
In this story, we see a young family joyfully coming together in dance and song. I also especially liked how the father was reading to their child above, with the mother initiating the salsa, providing a delightful distraction from the quiet reading time.
Quite a number of Spanish words have made it into the Filipino lexicon – product of over 300 years of colonization. Hence, I know exactly what canta and bailar mean. I like how there is so much energy in this book that gradually dissolves into a gentle, soothing, lilting tone as the baby tires and sleeps:
This is a beautifully illustrated book filled with love and light. We need more of these in our lives.
My Papi Has A Motorcycle [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Isabel Quintero Illustrated by Zeke Peña
Published by Kokila (2019)
ISBN: 052555341X (ISBN13: 9780525553410). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.
I have been seeing this book featured by our blogging friends over the past several months, and was thrilled to see it available on Overdrive.
This book resonated with me a great deal mainly because my boyfriend (now my husband) used to drive me around a motorcycle, so I know exactly the vrooooom sensation depicted below, and hanging on tight for dear life.
Similar to the picturebook above, there is a great deal of movement here – and understated love that is powerful, primarily because it is so subtle and real. There is also a very clear sense of place: This is the United States of America, and it is peopled with brown-skinned immigrants who have established their homes and identities in the country that supposedly is built on the hands and hard work of people who came from somewhere else.
There is also a clear sense of history that is strategically positioned in the narrative. And there are telling details: roughened hands of the father, lemon trees in Abuela’s home, shops that are closing down, this boy who calls out to our young female protagonist suggesting a small town where everybody knows everybody else – that demonstrate masterful storytelling.
The Author’s Note is also rich with a firm awareness of identity that is beautiful to read. I am fully expecting this book to win all the awards this year. Find it if you haven’t already!
#ReadIntl2020 Update: 2 of 30 (country) | Language: Spanish (bilingual)
Jen Arena is from the USA and Erika Meza is based in the United Kingdom.
Both Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena are from the USA.