Señor Pancho Had a Rancho…cha-cha-cha-cha-cha!


On my last post I joked that I was René Colato Laínez’s groupie.  I am a huge fan of his picture books and use them in my classroom.  Most recently, Señor Pancho Had a Rancho, has been our latest class book/class pet.  I tell my students, “We might not have a class pet, but we have a class book!” Every night a different student takes the book home and reads it with their family. Then, they write and draw about it in the shared class journal.

The story premise is quite universal. There is an English speaking farmer and his neighbor is a Spanish speaking farmer.  The farm animals make different noises – even though they are the same.  This language barrier keeps the farm animals separate until the cows or vacas, both say, Moo! and ¡Muu! 

senor pancho startBecause most of my first graders are native Spanish speakers, they were familiar with the Spanish animal sounds in the story.  Here’s a brief and sweet clip of them singing their hearts out…cha-cha-cha-cha-cha!

At the end, all of the farm animals begin to dance – a universal pass time that brings much joy and happiness to people around the world. My first graders were quick to point out that even though we might look different on the outside, or speak different languages, we are all the same inside; a truth that should be embraced and celebrated.

senor pancho. cows

This book is great fun, with a catchy tune that just makes you want to get up and dance…


REFORMA National Conference 2015: A peek into the library services for Latinos & Spanish speaking

reforma banner 2015

REFORMA is the National Association of Librarians to promote library and information services to Latinos and the Spanish speaking. It is an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA). They develop library collections to include Spanish language, bilingual and bicultural books as well as other materials to meet the needs of the Latino community. REFORMA’S fifth national conference (April 1-4) was held in San Diego at the Omni Hotel. The theme was “Libraries Without Borders: Creating our future / Bibliotecas sin fronteras: creando nuestro futuro”. 

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak on an author panelInsights from Award Winning Children’s & Young Adult Book Authors. I was joined by Marie Elena Cortes, René Colato Laínez and the moderator, Maritere Rodriguez Bellas. We discussed bilingual books and bilingual education trends, writing tips to stay inspired, illustrations and the many writing processes used to make a picture book. An audience member shared she lays out visual images on the floor when she writes. It took me a while to figure out who she was and then I realized, “Oh my stars – it’s Mara Price, the author of Grandma’s Chocolate!” It took all of me not to run and hug her. I was also super excited to spend some time with one of my favorite children’s author, René Colato Laínez. I teased him I was a groupie because his book, Señor Pancho Had a Rancho, is our current “class book/class pet”. But more on that later…

Reforma 2015: Author Panel

Reforma 2015: Author Panel

After the author panel, I went to the book exhibit hall and perused the myriad of books for adults and children. Books are my dear friends and I felt so giddy to be in their company.  I got to chat with librarians from Oakland, Portland, Santa Barbara and Texas. After sharing a few laughs with a lively librarian from Ponderosa Library (shout out to Ponderosa!), I even thought to myself, “I think I might really like being a librarian.” It was clear by their enthusiasm that they truly love being librarians and the service they provide their communities.  The REFORMA conference was pretty big and while I didn’t get the opportunity to attend the entire conference, the little bit I did see was impressive.

Later that Friday evening I walked around San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.  It was a delight to stroll and take in the beauty of the buildings, restaurants, shops and Petco Park.  After my stroll, I made my way to the San Diego Central Library to attend the event, Noche de Cuentos.

noche de cuentos.reforma 2015

Firstly, let me say that this library is stunning. I couldn’t get over the views, the size and grandeur of it. Since the event was on the 9th floor, I felt as if I were flying over the city.

San Diego Central Library - 9th floor

San Diego Central Library – 9th floor

I found a spot next to this window and enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie of the group.  The beats of Danza Mexi’cayotl were palpable. This scene reminded me of my college days long ago, as I learned with earnest about my Latino and Indigenous roots through literature, oral story telling and dance.

I would also like to highlight REFORMA’S International Book Share: Children in crisis project and Baja California libraries. Please consider donating new or gently used books or money to help refugee children. Books provide much healing, insight and companionship. Books also provide hope and we could all benefit from a bit of hope for a better tomorrow. For more information please visit:!about_us/csgz

CBSIWvsU0AICMAULastly, as I saw the many librarians carefully looking at books, I thought of Mrs. Maria Fernandez, Felton School’s librarian. We’re lucky to have her. Librarians are the gatekeepers of books and hope, because it is through their work that our children and communities continue to thrive.

I’m of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.

– Barbara Kingsolver