Latin American Children’s Books
in 1989 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recommended safeguarding what they called “intangible cultural heritage.” recognizing oral tradition forms as part of the world’s cultural patrimony. “Oralidad” ‘For the Rescue of the Oral Tradition of Latin America and the Caribbean’.
The indigenous people who lived in Latin America before the Spanish conquest had a storytelling tradition they used to pass down family values and knowledge that was even recorded in codices on Amaranth paper centuries ago.
After the Spanish conquest, Christian missionaries used storytelling in form of “Gregorian Chants”, the recitation of Psalms, poems, songs, and theatrical plays such as “La Pastorela” [Nativity Play] as a medium to convert the indigenous people to the Catholic religion.
I am familiar with both these traditions because my grandmother used to tell me “dichos”[sayings], and “consejos” [advice] on a daily basis, and sometimes I sound like her. I grew up listening to tongue twisters, inside jokes, rhymes, the family stories , myths, superstitions, and my favorite: folktales. There is a vast collection of children songs, and play songs, that are fun, clever and poetic that are shared by all the Spanish speaking world.
In retrospect, that oral tradition is exactly what has created a bond among three generations of my family, sharing our cultural values, and identity. We sing the same songs, repeat the same saying, laugh at the same jokes, and know all the family stories of both sides of the family.
In Mexico, you can still attend performances of “Pastorelas” Nativity plays during Christmas, and “Las Posadas” This too has been part of my children and grandchildren’s traditions. As an immigrant living in the United States, Christmas was that essential anchor that helped me hold on to my family values and identity.
Unfortunately, only a few of this vast treasure of legends and myths of Latin America have been written as children’s books, and less than that in English.
Latin American Sayings
Más vale maña que fuerza.-
Better skill than strength.
Mucho ruido y pocas nueces. –
Much to do about Nothing
In Nahuatl:[Ma’alob tsolxikine’ mina’an u tojol]
El buen consejo no tiene precio, –
Good advice has no price
Mas Vale Pájaro en Mano Que Cien Volando –
A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush
Latin American Books for Children