March 7, 2015
By Jonathan Muñoz
Spanish is the most popular foreign language that American kids are learning in school these days, and one book store in Los Angeles is taking stock in this.
Studied by over 70% of foreign language students, two women in Southern California wanted to deal with a problem facing public schools trying to expand their dual-language programs: a lack of books beyond translations of popular English books. It’s also a challenge for some parents working to raise bilingual children.
That’s where the idea for La Librería comes in — a space dedicated to children’s literature in the Spanish language.
Co-founders Celene Navarrete and Chiara Arroyo couldn’t believe the local lack of good, Spanish-language literature for children.
“Especially in Los Angeles, it was shocking to see the books that I read in Mexico, in my hometown, many of them were not available here,” Navarrete told Southern California Public Radio.
This lead to Navarrete and Arroyo traveling to Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, and Spain to find authentic, Spanish-language children’s books.
In the store you can find a curated selection of titles from some of the best publishing houses in Latin American and Spain, including illustrated albums, chapter books, activity books, pop-up books, comics and graphic novels.
“We found the classics, we found the books that we read when we were little,” Navarrete told SCPR.
Original content for children to read in the U.S.
This offers children not just A Spanish language book, but Spanish culture books — not repurposed stories, but stories that were intended to be read in Spanish.
The majority of the Spanish-language books in the Scholastic catalog, a major publisher of children’s books, are translations of popular English language books– like “Clifford the Dog” and stories about Sophia, the Disney princess — with a few books written in Spanish.
This catalog from Spring 2012 includes Spanish versions of the popular English series “Captain Underpants,” while this one from November/December 2011 has a Spanish “Clifford” and Shrek’s “Puss N Boots” stories.
The books at La Libreria are organized by reading ability, considering the characteristics of Spanish speakers and Spanish learners in the United States.
Arroyo and Navarrete hope to eventually make it so that children can borrow their books for free, like a library.