Luisito’s Island: A Bilingual Kid Book about Puerto Rico
I got the chance to review the bilingual book, Luisito’s Island/ La Isla de Luisito by my friend the author and bilingual education advocate Maritere Rodriguez Bellas. My son loved it too! He learned about Puerto Rico last year so this was perfect book to continue the conversation.
Luisito’s Island is about a little boy who has suffered through Hurricane Maria and has been displaced. He is far away from his island, his home and misses it dearly.
Luisito’s friends ask him about Puerto Rico, so he talks about what he loves about Puerto Rico. This is a perfect book to teach kids about the beauty of Puerto Rican culture. He talks about the coqui, and piragüas, and special places on the island (I don’t want to give it away, so you can read for yourself!)
The book is a partnership with Read Conmigo, a program which provides free bilingual books and activities for children.
Q&A with Maritere Bellas, the author of Luisito’s Island!
I asked Maritere some questions about how she got the great idea for this book. Check out my interview with her below:
How did you get the idea for Luisito’s Island?
The folks for ReadConmigo had asked me to write a book for them a few years ago. At the time, I was involved with other projects and had not been able to. They approached me again a few months after the hurricane. They wanted a book about Puerto Rico. When I sat down to write it, I just knew it had to be about a boy that had to leave the island because of what had happened. He had a story to tell.
What do you hope children will take away from Luisito’s Island?
For children that experienced having to leave the island because their homes were damaged, I hope it makes them smile at their own memories and feel the pride, and, that it gives them hope that one day they will return.
For children that don’t know Puerto Rico, it was my intent that they get a glimpse of the beautiful things my little island has to offer.
Can you tell us a little bit about your partnership with Read Conmigo?
ReadConmigo is an initiative sponsored by Infinity Insurance that promotes bilingual literacy at home and it provides parents and teachers unique tools including bilingual children’s books that help families strengthen their children’s bilingual skills.
Read Conmigo is a free subscription and I love that. I got to write a book that will be given away to all children whose families are subscribed to the program, families that go to book festivals, or book fairs and other family events. How amazing is that?
For parents who are raising bilingual kids who are starting to read, can you give us some advice on how to get them to love to read in Spanish?
Ideally, we should start exposing children to books since they are babies, in any language! It then becomes a natural progression, when they are learning the language. They grow up knowing that they read in Spanish (or the desire language) with mom and dad and they don’t see it as something different or as a chore. It becomes part of their daily lives, like brushing their teeth two or three times a day. In my house, we had Spanish reading three times a week and English reading three times a week and on Sundays we took a break. That way, we gave both languages the same importance.
Maritere, given the political climate, what would do you think is the future of bilingual education in the USA?
My wish would be that schools across the USA would offer bilingual education at all levels! If we took all the research about the benefits and the advantages of being fluent in two or more languages seriously, we would have children able to communicate in several languages, just like they do in Europe. How wonderful for the future generations would that be?
Maritere, thank you for writing this book! Do you have other books in the works?
Thank you for this opportunity! I love your work as an activist and as a mom! You are the perfect example of how we can raise multicultural children!
My next project is a series of bilingual children’s books, Yunito’s Adventures. It is my intention that the first book of the series will be published next year! Fingers crossed!