As a bilingual educator and Ph.D. student in bilingual education, I know first hand that there is an increasing demand for bilingual education books and authentic resources for teachers that are developed and originally written (not translated!) in the languages of their diverse student populations.
As a children’s author, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and connect with other talented children’s book authors who have brought beautifully written stories to life. However, many of those authors don’t have a background in education and are unaware of what is needed in schools or how they can align their published books to those needs.
Writing and publishing a children’s book is one thing. Marketing that book to the right audience is another thing entirely. Authors, particularly those who are self-published, often struggle to find an audience in a saturated market. There is a market in schools, however. The increasing number of bilingual and dual language programs, for example, has created a significant need for resources that will help teachers integrate language, literacy and content in their instruction. Bilingual resources are needed to model rich vocabulary to students. Multicultural texts are needed to increase representation and depict stories from various cultural perspectives.
My books, Mi prima islena y yo/ My Island Cousin and I & Somos gemelas pero no somos identicas / We Are Twins but We Are Not Identical! are just two examples of bilingual children’s books published in the last year. Both of my books were published during the summer of 2021 and highlight the themes of multicultural identity and pride. Mi prima islena y yo juxtaposes the experience of two Puerto Rican cousins: one who lives in the island and one who lives in New York City. The first cousin has the privilege of being immersed in the language and culture of the island on a daily basis. The other cousin lives in a city surrounded by all of the world’s cultures, yet remains closely connected to her island heritage. Somos gemelas y yo juxtaposes the experience of two family members as well, but this time compares the experience of twin sisters of multicultural backgrounds. The twins’ Italian ancestry is more dominant with one twin whereas their father’s Guatemalan ancestry is more evident in the other. The themes of personal and cultural identity are important to highlight with young children who are learning about their connections to their families, their cultures and the world.
I am working on publishing a teacher’s guide for these books, which will be published at the end of 2022. I will post updates on my progress as well as information regarding the launch of the guide.
I also recently had the pleasure of creating a teacher’s guide for author Naibe Reynoso, based on her collection of bilingual biographies including Be Bold! Be Brave!, Fearless Trailblazers & Courageous History Makers.
My experiences working on Naibe’s teacher’s guide as well as my own has inspired me to share important considerations for aspiring children’s authors who are looking to expand their work to a wider audience or hope to align their stories to topics students learn at school:
Familiarize Yourself with the Content
If you’re thinking of writing a teacher’s guide, it is important to ask yourself who the guide is for. Is it for elementary school? Middle school? High school? Will your teacher’s guide be focused on one subject area or will it be multidisciplinary? Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the content area topics that may be covered for your target grade level(s). If you’re doing a teacher’s guide for social studies, for example, you want to make sure that the topics that are covered are appropriate for your grade level audience.
Does your children’s book align with a particular subject? If not, is there a prominent theme you can extract from your book that can help drive the focus of your teacher’s guide? Maybe your children’s book touches on the development of social-emotional skills or executive functioning skills. The content of a teacher’s guide doesn’t only have to be linked to Language Arts, Math, Science, etc.
Get to Know the Standards
If you’re trying to break into the educational market, it’s important to consider that teachers follow standards when planning for instruction. There are different standards, depending on the course subject, but a great starting point would be to check out the Common Core Standards. These standards are organized by grade level and you can familiarize yourself with the skills students are expected to develop in both English Language Arts and Math. If you’re working on a bilingual teacher’s guide, like me, it’s helpful to also consider the Spanish Common Core Standards.
Make it Engaging, yet Rigorous!
As someone who was in the classroom for fifteen years, I can tell you that I have tried pretty much everything to “entertain” my students. Yes, school should be about learning and not entertaining, but let’s be real. It is much easier to get children to do what they’re “supposed to do” if they are highly motivated and engaged.
That is why it is very important to make sure that the activities and lessons included in your teacher’s guide are fun, as well as highly educational. Your teacher’s guide should have more than simple worksheets and fill-in-the-blank activities. If possible, make sure to include 21st-century activities and skills like digital literacy and environmental stewardship.
Teachers are busy, busy people. They are highly appreciative of resources that will make their busy lives easier and will save them time. If a teacher can find a resource that is well aligned to the content and the standards they teach AND will make their kids happy because they’re engaged and having fun, you have a winner!
These are just some preliminary considerations for anyone interested in creating a teacher’s guide. I will continue to share my progress in the coming weeks and months as well as some sample lessons and activities.
If writing a teacher’s guide seems too overwhelming and you’d much rather delegate the task, I’d be happy to help! Please reach out to me by completing this contact form so we can set up a time and date to meet to discuss your teacher guide or children’s book’s authorship vision!