Libros y Familia, literally meaning, books and family, is an event across schools that the BECA teachers put on for the entire school every year to promote literacy. That is a pretty large task if you think about it.
There are about 14 of us teachers at SJBS (San Jeronimo Bilingual School) planning an event for all of the students and parents of the entire school. No problem. From what I hear from the returning teachers, last year the planning was much easier, as an author of bilingual children’s books actually came to our schools and did activities with the children and parents. His publisher even sent enough books so each student could have one. Now that is quite the standard to follow. We had a high bar set for us.
Although we could not give away brand new books and did not have a famous author up our sleeve this year, what we did have was a team of creative teachers ready to go. We thought about ways we could make literacy fun and enjoyable. We thought about what we could do with both kids and adults. After some brainstorming, planning, creating, crafting, and printing, we designed all of our supplies for the big day--we knew it would be a hit.
We had a great turnout for the big day. It was late on a Sunday morning. While families were trickling in, we had them enjoy some opening stations. They could sign their students up for SJBS’s summer camp, color some awesome bookmarks, designed by a 9th grader, take library tours (in order to learn more about our library system), help fix books (we always say to treat books like babies, but when students don’t, teachers have to fix them…this way parents got to see the process and maybe the books will receive better home lives!), peruse the refreshment table, or take photos at the Dr. Seuss themed photo booth.
After our opening stations, as if the fun was not already happening, Ms. Raven, Ms. Jenna, and I hit the stage where we acted our fool hearts out with no shame. I have to admit, my part had some pretty corny jokes written in, which got some audible laughs. Our extremely talented acting debut was a skit about the importance of literacy and how it can sometimes solve problems. Let me assure you, we were fabulous. This, along with some other opening words, paved the way for our main event. Since we had no books to give away, we decided the kids would make books with their parents. The grades split into three groups: kinder through first grade, second through fifth, and sixth through ninth grade. All of the teachers went with their grade level group and we created masterpieces.
In the kinder through first grade group, the students and their parents created a bilingual book that was all about them, which they then got to take home. In the second through fifth grade group, the students, alongside their parents, created a silly book with no pictures, which was also bilingual. The oldest grade, once again did a bilingual activity with their parents where they wrote about a shared memory in both languages and drew a picture.
The best part about these activities was seeing the kids have so much fun creating their masterpiece with their parents. Their parents were so invested in helping the kids brainstorm, and therefore, the children were invested in showing they had wonderful ideas. Furthermore, it was amazing to see all the little bilingual prodigies we had before us. I would see parents asking if a kid knew how to say a certain word in English and the kid would quickly write it down to show their ability. What smarty pants. To see the pride in the parents was amazing, and it was great to witness the kids seeing that pride in their parents.
We concluded with some ending words and a raffle, where we did give away some new books. Everyone was jubilated as they cheered for those who won the books. Regardless of whether or not they won a new book or not, parents and children alike clutched their works of art that they would be bringing home while they listened to the closing speeches. It was a brand new work of art from a family of co-authors, and that is worth a lot.