As our world becomes more and more diverse, children are more likely to be born in families where various cultures are represented. Children may have a parent who is Latinx while the other parent African-American parent, for example. In some cases, children may have parents that are both Latinx and Spanish speaking, but one parent may be from one country (i.e. Mexico) while the other parent is from another country (i.e. Cuba).
In our culturally diverse world, many people grow up being surrounded by multiple languages, multiple cultures and multiple belief systems. Therefore, it is important that we have conversations with our children about identity at an early age, so they learn to identify and explore issues of cultural intersectionality and possible instances of cultural privilege or hegemony.
My children are being raised by Latinx, Spanish speaking parents. Some of the other children in my family are raised by one Latinx parent and others are being exposed to other cultures. There are a variety of situations present in our family and I can imagine that the complexities extend beyond our circle.
Even though my children are being raised to speak Spanish, one issue that has presented itself that I’ve often wondered about is whether or not they will “internalize” all of the cultures in the same way? Will their Spanish sound more Mexican, for example? Will they prefer arroz con habichuelas and arepas over tacos?
My experiences as a parent raising children exposed to different Latinx cultures inspired me to write two children’s books. The overall idea behind these books is to explore how cultural identities develop and what societal factors impact stronger development of one culture over another.
The first book, titled Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I tells the story of two cousins from Puerto Rico: One who lives on the island and has had the opportunity to be completely immersed in the island’s culture and the Spanish language, whilst the other cousin is Puerto Rican as well, but lives in the United States with her family. The book explores the sense of cultural pride expressed by both girls and touches on the development of diverging cultural identities between them.
The second book, titled Somos gemelas pero no somos identicas! / We Are Twins but We Are Not Identical! is a story inspired by my very own fraternal twins. This story is for twin parents who have been repeatedly asked the question: “Are they twins?” The book tells a whimsical story of twin girls who despite sharing the same parents and living in the same home, are also developing diverging identities.
Anyone who is raising multilingual or multicultural children should be prepared for the possibility that not all cultures or languages may develop at the same pace. There are various factors that impact cultural identity and these two books are an example of how diverging identities are being formed in my family.
Both books will be available for pre-order on Amazon on Saturday June 12th. They will be available in hardcover, paperback and e-book versions.