Part One: An Interview with the Creators of ¡Leámoslo otra vez!
At HighScope Educational Research Foundation, equity has been at the core of our mission since our founding in 1970. In our curriculum materials, assessment tools, and professional development offerings, we strive to provide high-quality classroom experiences from which all children can learn. This month, we officially launched the Spanish Read-Alouds, or ¡Leámoslo otra vez!—an entirely Spanish-language companion to our bestselling literacy tool, Let’s Read It Again! Interactive Read-Alouds.
The Spanish Read-Alouds include a teacher’s guide, five high-quality Spanish-language children’s books, and lesson plans for multiple readings of the books with scaffolding strategies for vocabulary, comprehension, and other critical literary skills. This product was developed for use in both dual-language programs and Spanish-speaking classrooms; all materials included are written entirely in Spanish.
The interview below, the first of a two-part series, was conducted with Graciela Borja of HighScope Mexico, the translator and chief creator of the Spanish Read-Alouds. Click here to read the interview with Amy Vandament, President of The Book Vine for Children, who selected the books that are included in the Spanish Read-Alouds.
These responses have been lightly edited for space and clarity.
What was the translation and development process like for the Spanish Read-Alouds? Walk us through your workflow and how we got to the finished product.
In April 2021, I had translated to Spanish the teacher’s guide of the Let’s Read It Again! Interactive Read-Alouds and had read some of the 20 booklets that accompany this guide in the English kit.
That was my “first” translation. I call it this because I had to revisit it many times. In each occasion I polished it and obtained a better understanding of its contents. HighScope Trainer Karen Murillo’s input was very helpful and I am glad that we were co-partners in the adaptation of these first five storybooks.
I consider the whole English set a valuable resource for both Spanish-speaking teachers and Spanish-speaking adults living or working in the United States. As HighScope President Alejandra Barraza has stressed, this is a very useful tool and Spanish-speaking parents and teachers should have access to it. This is one of the main goals for this publication.
At first, I wanted to offer a set of around 10, if not of 20 storybooks in Spanish. This was not possible for some reasons: namely, the lack of enough Spanish printed storybooks in the market in order to complement the booklets.
When reading the guide and English set, I had the opportunity to exchange messages with Suzanne Gainsley, one of the developers of the Teacher’s Guide and Interactive Read-Alouds Contents. The contact with Suzanne allowed me to strengthen my understanding of the literacy curriculum. So, once again, as it happened in 2003 when I worked on my ToT (Trainer of Trainers certification), I had an enjoyable learning experience thanks to Sue’s kind and knowledgeable support.
Amy E. Vandament, President of The Book Vine for Children, kindly helped us to get 250 samples of the five titles that we are offering in this first set; Editor Sealtiel Alatriste helped us to obtain some more samples in Barcelona of 3 titles needed to complement our adaptations. Institute HighScope México was able to provide us with one storybook found in México City.
It took us a long time to search and find the 300 copies that we are offering to the Spanish speaking trainers and teachers.
Finally, on December 2021, we were very happy to have in our hands the very first collection of Leámoslo otra vez.
What do you think of the new books? What are the aspects of the story or teacher’s guide that fit particularly well within a HighScope classroom?
I think they offer great support to dual language Spanish teachers and adults who apply the curriculum not only in a classroom but also in the day-to-day life at home. Let me tell you of my initial experience with the books: I was able to read them to my grandchildren and after having read the storybooks, all of a sudden they were using the new vocabulary, predicting what could happen next, and applying many of HighScope key literacy components. I find these adaptations effective; children interact with adults adding personal experiences to the storybooks, they are able to make connections between written words and their sounds; they show phonological awareness, play with rhymes, alliterations and sentence’s rhythms.
The Read-Alouds interactive booklets offer a great support for HighScope teachers during their read-aloud daily routine times. They provide teachers with an efficient and friendly methodology which can be applied from the very first reading and will be equally useful and amusing on each further reading.
Moreover, they instill and encourage the joy of reading.
HighScope teachers will give the correct space and importance to the read-aloud time by looking for cozy environments in small groups and avoiding reading books to children while they passively listen (i.e. lunch time, or while “quietly” doing other activities).
How do you think the Spanish Read-Alouds will affect Spanish-speaking children’s experience of literacy and learning?
Spanish Read-Alouds will help Spanish-speaking children’s experience of literacy and learning by offering them a context or a framework through images that will connect well with Spanish words. Young children will identify situations and objects names, with the help of illustrations; they will listen to their peers and teachers’ pronunciation; families will be able to receive their children’s support and vice versa in English and Spanish words. All this will set new channels of communication, new bridges of understanding and life sharing in their communities. The use of synonyms included on the “suggested vocabulary” (a key literacy component) will provide teachers with a useful tool and support strategy.
By “teacher planning,” and “getting ready” techniques as well as “after reading the books,” Spanish-speaking young children will feel confident to talk with peers and adults, and join in conversations. We should remember that conversation is an important literacy tool. These five Spanish booklets suggest some focus points and some places to introduce conversation, rich “pauses,” and an invitation to all teachers and readers to consider that if these adaptations provide examples of a first, second and so on readings, there are many more possible readings that a story book (fiction, nonfiction or poetry book) can have.