By Naibe Reynoso
This month’s book of the month inspired us with its tenacious attitude towards motivating young learners on how they can succeed in the U.S. The author of the book, Naibe Reynoso, has been a bilingual journalist for over twenty years. She has worked for English and Spanish networks and media outlets. Some of the companies include Univision, CNN en Español, local CBS, Reelz, LA County Channel, and Fox News Latino. By some companies, she was asked to translate stories from English to Spanish, so her familiarity with both languages has always been strong. Born in Santa Monica, California, her family moved to Mexico when she was eight and lived there for a few years; she prides herself in being raised with full comprehension of both languages. Her first job in television was hosting and producing a bilingual children’s TV show in Los Angeles that was called Planeta Chiquitran, a Spanish educational show that taught young audiences about the environment, history, safety, and other important topics.
Her book Be Bold! Be Brave!: 11 Latinas Who Made U.S. History – ¡Sé audaz, sé valiente!: 11 latinas que hicieron historia en Estados Unidos is a bilingual rhyming biography book that features eleven contemporary Latinas who have made an impact in United States history. These Latinas excelled in medicine, science, sports, art, journalism, and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding women in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success. Women featured include Antonia Novello (first female surgeon general in the U.S.), Ellen Ochoa (first Latina to go to space), Sonia Sotomayor (first Latina Supreme Court Justice,) Rita Moreno, and Selena.
The mission is to inspire children, and especially communities of color. If they can see it, they can believe it. As a journalist, it has always been my passion to tell stories. I knew the stories of my community needed to be told to a younger audience, especially in these divisive times when our little ones are hearing so many negative things said about the Latino community. As a mother, I felt it was important to give my children a piece of media that provided a positive look at all of the important accomplishments Latinas have made to American society. Our community has been marginalized in many ways, including having a lack of representation of important Latina figures in children’s books. I needed to change that.
Inspired by the eleven women she writes about, as an independent publisher, she found it very challenging to market her book. She has utilized her experience in media to leverage her contacts and get some exposure. As a journalist, she immediately understood the importance of reflecting one’s community in a positive light, and that is exactly what Be Bold! Be Brave!: 11 Latinas Who Made U.S. History does.
I feel there are so many benefits to making our community more multilingual. What better way to connect with people from other cultures when you understand their language? It is a skill set that you can use later in life to create more career opportunities, like I did. Because I am fully bilingual, I have always been able to find work in media. I think languages are beautiful; they are like instruments, each with their own unique pronunciations and nuances. I’m hoping to learn a third or fourth language myself.
She believes that bilingual books are the way of the future, as they reinforce the use of a second language for children. She has visited many schools to read her book to classrooms and has seen first-hand how children become so engaged when they see themselves reflected in books. She believes it to be important, especially for communities of color, to see that other women that look like them have accomplished amazing feats.
Many of the women in my book came from humble beginnings (which I address in the book), yet they accomplished incredible things. That is the main message I want to convey to young children. That you should be proud of your culture and also see that your possibilities are limitless. Literature reinforces the use of the language and allows children to put their new language skills into practice by either listening and comprehending story time in the second language or by reading a book in that new language. It can create a sense of accomplishment for the child when they realize they can understand what is being read or that they themselves can read that. It can also motivate them to keep learning if they struggle with understanding the storyline.
She wants her young readers to understand that anything is possible. Each page of her book inspires children, but also instills pride in their community. In the book, Naibe writes: “Rita Moreno’s mom was a seamstress and her dad a farmer, but she always knew she wanted to be a performer” to show the importance of pride in your parents, but to provide an understanding that it is not reflective of what your possibilities can be.
I want children to see themselves, to not feel invisible, to feel they matter, because if they see it, they can believe it. The book which is in Spanish and English is also meant to instill pride in our language and to keep it alive. Spanish is such a beautiful language and we should be proud of speaking it and teach our children the language so they can then pass it on to their children.