Spanish Is the Language of My Family

By Michael Genhart
Illustrators Illustrated by John Parra Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher Holiday House Imprint Neal Porter Books ISBN


Spanish Is the Language of My Family

In stock


Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

An intergenerational story of family ties, cultural pride, and spelling bee victory following a young boy who bonds with his beloved abuela over a love of Spanish.

As a boy prepares for his school’s Spanish spelling bee, he asks his grandmother for help with some of the words he doesn’t know how to spell yet. When she studies with him, she tells him how different things were back when she was a girl, when she was only allowed to speak English in school. This only inspires him to study even harder and make his family proud.

Based on stories author Michael Genhart heard from his mother as a child, Spanish is the Language of My Family is about the joy of sharing cultural heritage with our families, inspired by the generations of Latino people were punished for speaking Spanish and the many ways new generations are rejuvenating the language.

Michael Genhart’s text is as touching as it is poignant, and it’s paired with the striking artwork of multiple Pura Belpre Award-Winning Illustrator John Parra. Extensive material at the back of the book includes essays from the author about the history of Spanish suppression in U.S. schools and information about the Spanish alphabet.

Author’s note, with photograph. Selected references. Spanish alphabet. Full-color illustrations were created using acrylic paint and digital media. 
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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—A powerful picture book that accessibly educates readers about linguistic discrimination and cultural resistance. The story is told from the perspective of a child entering his school's annual Spanish spelling bee. While helping him practice, his grandma shares stories of how speaking Spanish in school was not only disdained when she was his age but also grounds for physical punishment. The child proudly celebrates his family's language in the competition, spelling words like "poderoso/powerful" and "respeto/respect." The text is primarily in English with a sprinkling of translated and untranslated Spanish words and phrases. Untranslated Spanish will not impede understanding for non-Spanish speakers. Short, simple, and powerful sentences make the text perfect for reading aloud or independently. Parra's distinctive style shines in the illustrations with many thoughtful details that will keep readers engaged. Back matter about the author's personal connection to the story and the history of language and education in the United States will answer readers' questions and prompt new ones. VERDICT An eye-opening and uplifting first purchase for children's collections.—Maria Bohan

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