Independent Publishers Feature Bilingual Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last week I discussed how several small, independent presses are publishing bilingual children’s books, often at the request of teachers and librarians within their communities who want to provide books in the languages that their children speak. These smaller companies have found an important economic niche in publishing multicultural books, particularly bilingual books, since the audience for these books is too small for the large conglomerate publishing houses to make publishing these books economically feasible (although more of them are discovering the market for books in Spanish). The smaller companies also have the advantage of being able to work closely with authors and illustrators to ensure that a book is culturally authentic, since they often find authors and illustrators from within their own communities, and can utilize their local resources to ensure that the language and culture portrayed in their books is authentic. For this reason, teachers and librarians can be assured that books published by these smaller companies are culturally authentic. I’d like to look at some of these smaller companies located in the greater Southwest and at some of the outstanding books they are producing.

Probably one of the most well-known independent presses that publishes multicultural and bilingual children’s books is Continue reading

Publishing Bilingual Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last month, Janine Schall interviewed children’s book writer and illustrator Xavier Garza, who publishes his books in English and in Spanish because he thinks children should be exposed to their first language or to a language other than their own. More and more publishing companies, particularly smaller, independent publishers, are publishing dual language books. This week, I’d like to examine bilingual books and the role they can play in the classroom. Next week, I’ll focus on some of the outstanding bilingual books that are being published by independent publishers.

For my doctoral dissertation, I interviewed people from five publishing companies (Cinco Puntos Press, Luna Rising, Salina Bookshelf, Piñata Books, Children’s Book Press, and the University of New Mexico Press) to learn why they were publishing multicultural children’s books generally and bilingual books specifically. I found that most of them considered these books to be a niche market, because the big conglomerate publishing companies, whose interest is mainly in how many books they can sell, weren’t interested in books that had such a small buying audience from the outset. Interestingly enough, several national companies, such as Scholastic, have decided that there is a big enough market for Spanish language books (see Scholastic en Español), but the smaller companies also publish books in Native American and Asian languages as well as other languages from around the world.
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Children Respond to Xavier Garza's Books

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan America, Edinburg, TX

In previous posts I talked with author Xavier Garza about his books for children. I’d like to share more children’s responses to Xavier’s work in this bonus post. I’d also like to ask other teachers and librarians to share by commenting here how they have used multicultural literature with their students. How do students respond to multicultural literature? How do teachers and librarians facilitate this response?

Angie Hilton read Zulema and the Witch Owl with her fourth grade students in Alamo, Texas. Her students then created an artistic response. I’ve included some of their work in this slide show:

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"Is the Chupacabras Real?" Xavier Garza Answers Questions from Children

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

On this fifth Monday of November, we continue our focus on children’s author Xavier Garza. In this post, Xavier answers questions from 2nd and 3rd grade students at Ynes B. Escobar Elementary in Roma, Texas. Student questions were video taped and transcribed. Xavier’s responses follow the transcription.

Mr. Xavier Garza, what gave you the idea to write the storyJuan and the Chupacabra? Like were you looking around and something gave you the idea?

Xavier: The idea came to me from my childhood memories. When I was little my cousins and I would pretend to hunt for monsters in the fields found in the back of our grandfather’s house. We would hunt for everything from La Llorona to the Chupacabras, but we never did catch any of them.
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 4

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

This is the last of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

The luchador "El Toro" from Lucha Libre-The Man in the Silver Mask

The luchador "El Toro" from Lucha Libre-The Man in the Silver Mask

Janine: The illustrations in your books are striking and attractive to kids. Juan and the Chupacabras was illustrated by someone else. Was that a publisher’s decision? Were you able to collaborate with April Ward or was she given your text to work with on her own?

Xavier:That was strictly the publisher’s decision. At the time that I got the contract for Juan and the Chupacabras, my book Lucha Libre still hadn’t come out. I was viewed as not having any experience in the field of children’s book illustrations, which I have to admit is very different from just being able to draw and paint. A lot of work goes into producing these illustrations, and you have to learn to work with art editors. Making illustrations for a book isn’t a one person show. After Lucha Libre came out and received very favorable reviews for the art as well as the story, it opened the door for me to ask to illustrate all of my own books. Zulema and the Witch Owl was also done with Arte Público, and featured my own illustrations. I love my book Juan and the Chupacabras, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t wish that I had done the illustrations myself. I however must say that April Ward did a wonderful job working on the book. Her art alongside the sketches done by Felipe Davalos who was the original illustrator of the book, but who had to drop out of the project due to scheduling complications, were truly beautiful. I have never met April Ward, and this isn’t uncommon when it comes to an author and an illustrator working on a book. They are often kept apart so as to give the illustrator more freedom to turn the writer’s vision into his or her own.
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 3

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

This is the third of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

Janine: All of your picture books are English/Spanish bilingual. What made you decide to write bilingual books?

Xavier: I am a firm believer in the advantages that come from being able to speak more that one language. While I agree that everyone should learn English, I see no reason to give up the tongue of your ancestors. I disagree with those who spout an English only point of view. I find it silly that they would seek to portray an individual’s ability to be bilingual as being something bad. They forget that America isn’t composed of just one culture; she is a varied and diverse nation that is made up of many, many different tongues, traditions and ideas. She is forever changing, never staying constant for too long.

Janine: It’s lovely to hear such a strong defense of bilingualism — even here in the Valley I sometimes hear teachers denigrating Spanish. I imagine that growing up in Rio Grande City it would be difficult not to be bilingual, but was that something that your family and/or schools supported? I noticed that you don’t do your own translations for your books. Why is that?
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 2

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

La Lechuza comes after naughty children, illustrated by Garza

La Lechuza comes after naughty children, illustrated by Garza

This is the second of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

Janine: A number of your books deal with traditional, folkloric aspects of Hispanic culture such as the Chupacabras and La Lechuza. Why do these characters keep recurring in your writing? Why do you think children enjoy these figures so much?

Xavier: We love our Cucuys. We love to be scared. Continue reading

Interview with Author Xavier Garza

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan Amercian, Edinburg, TX

This is the first of a four part interview with Xavier Garza, author of several children’s books, including Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book. Xavier was born and raised in Rio Grande City, a small town on the Texas/Mexico border. His work draws upon the cultural and linguistic influences of life in the Rio Grande Valley. Xavier now lives in San Antonio with his wife and son. This interview was conducted electronically.

Janine: Thank you for taking the time to discuss your work. The teachers I work with were very excited when I told them that I would be interviewing you. Living in the Rio Grande Valley, your books resonate with them. You grew up in the border town of Rio Grande City. How does the place and culture of your childhood affect your writing?
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Immigration Literature: Bridging Global Cultures for Classroom Communities

by Andrea Baily, April Sanders, Patricia Sosa-Sanchez, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

When incorporating varied literature into school curriculum and/or the classroom, those choices should logically reflect many stories that eventually are woven into a mosaic of understanding, but are students getting this international perspective from the literature found in their classrooms and libraries?

Understanding the authentic immigrant experience necessitates exposure to international literature. Reading about such experiences gives a peek into the hearts and minds of people whom we may not fully understand. The reader is able to experience the struggles and triumphs of these characters; thus, we get a tiny glimpse of the world through the eyes of a person who has arrived at America’s doorstep. This glimpse is where we as readers learn empathy and acceptance for other cultures that face the task of maintaining their own heritage while living in a new country with possibly vastly different rules and structures. Without the authenticity provided by the immigrant voice, the reader may begin to form false ideas about a culture or simply form no ideas and be completely void of knowledge of their new fellow country mates.
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After the Journey: Immigrants in a New Country

By Ragina Shearer & Mary Amanda Stewart, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Once an immigrant arrives in the destination country, there is yet another journey that begins. Often, this journey is overlooked because it takes place in the heart, mind, and inner being of the recent immigrant. Many of our students are greatly affected by these issues which include language challenges, family separation, missing the home country, and negotiating two cultures.
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