Sunday, May 5, 2024

Cinco de Mayo - Family Storytime

Cinco de Mayo storytime, Latino Book Month storytime

I take a break from storytimes in May to clean, organize, and get ready for summer, so I try to make the last one a little special. Last year I did a Kentucky Derby theme, complete with hats and horses, and wanted to do something different this year. I decided to go with a Cinco de Mayo theme to celebrate Mexican-American culture and Latino books month. While I've done this theme before as a virtual program at a previous library, this was this first time I've done it as an in-person program.

I started out by greeting everyone and reminding them this would be the last storytime until the first week of June, and briefly explaining today's storytime was inspired by a special day coming up that some people celebrate called Cinco de Mayo. Then we sang our "Hello" song, followed by our warm-up song for the month, "The Wheels On the Bus".

Next I used a non-fiction book, Cinco de Mayo, by Sharon Katz Cooper to help explain what the Cinco de Mayo holiday is and how it is celebrated. I really would rather have had a book written by someone of Mexican heritage, but I wasn't able to find one (hello, series non-fiction about getting some own-voices authors???). I didn't read from the book, but showed pictures in the book as I explained that "cinco de Mayo" means "5th of May" and that while many people mistakenly believe the holiday celebrates Mexican independence, it actually celebrates a victorious battle against the French in the town of Puebla, Mexico on that date in 1862.

I further explained that in Mexico, it is a minor holiday focused on that battle, but in the United States it has become a much larger celebration of Mexican and Mexican-American heritage and culture, featuring parades and festivals with dancing, music, art, and lots of yummy foods. Since I had planned a piñata craft, but the book didn't show one, I printed out a picture of a traditional one to show them. I told them that in that vein, our stories and activities would be inspired by aspects of Mexican culture and feature Latin authors.

Our first story wasn't necessarily related to Cinco de Mayo or celebrations, but featured something uniquely Mexican, the dramatic performance wrestling knows as the lucha libre! In Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza and Alyssa Bermudez, the main character loves playing superhero, but becomes upset when the boys say that girls can't be superheroes. Her abuela comes to the rescue with a story about the luchadores of lucha libre and a shiny, silvery cape and mask.

This is a fun read aloud with lots of action, that also provides an important message that girls can also be superheroes, luchadoras, or whatever they want, and they don't have to just be "sugar and spice, and everything nice" all the time. It also shows that you don't have to hide your skills and accomplishments, and that by "removing your mask" you can help inspire and encourage others.

After that we practiced counting in Spanish, and learned the Spanish words for "friend" and "I have" with a simple counting song:

Tengo Diez Amigos
("I Have 10 Friends")

Uno, dos, tres amigos;
(One, two, three friends)

Cuatro, cinco, seis amigos;
(Four, five , six friends)

Siete, ocho, nueve amigos:
(Seven, eight, nine friends)

Tengo diez amigos!
(I have ten friends!)

For our second story I selected Paletero Man! by Lucky Diaz and Micha Player, which is based on the author's song of the same name. Diaz is not only an author, but also a popular Latin Grammy-winning "kindie" musician from the Los Angeles area. This was also a really fun read aloud, with a nice rhythm, repeating elements, and a sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases throughout, which I translated as I read. The story is about a boy who thinks an icy cold paleta (Mexican ice pop) would be the perfect treat on a hot day in Los Angeles.

As he races through the barrio looking for the vendor, Paletero José, he greets several of his neighbors and friends. However, after finally finding the paletero man and ordering his favorite flavor, piña (pineapple), the boy discovers he has lost his money. However, all ends well as the neighbors he passed on his way picked up his dropped money and have brought it to him. Paletero 
José is so touched by their kindness, he declares free paletas for all!  (See trailer below):

After that it was time for our craft, and a special treat - paletas!


We made simple piñatas out of paper bags and crepe streamers. Though it would be more traditional to completely cover the piñata with fringed crepe paper, I knew that would require more time and patience than my group typically has, so I made an example that just had 3-4 rows of fringed paper around the bottom of the bag, and used markers to decorate the top. I showed them the quickest way to fringe the streamers was to cut or tear a piece of the roll, fold it half several times, and then cut about 2/3 across through several layers. On the back side of my example, I showed an even faster and easier method of decorating by just attaching long strips hanging down.

Paper bag piñatas

I gave them the bags, several different colors of crepe streamers, markers, glue, tape, and scissors and let them get to work. Once they were finished, I instructed them to put their bags on a side table, opened, to dry. While the bags were drying, they got to have a special treat and try paletas! I had assorted flavors: mango, lime, coconut, strawberry, and strawberries & cream. I also gave them paper plates to catch drips and have a place to set them down if needed. Most kids chose by color rather than flavor, and almost all seemed happy with their choices; however, one child was not happy with her lime paleta at all and gave it to her dad and chose a less adventurous strawberries & cream one instead.

While they were enjoying their paletas, I filled their piñatas with goodies (fruit gummies, alphabet cookies, slap bracelets, bubbles, squishies, and plastic animals) and closed them up. I instructed them to take the piñatas home and let them dry thoroughly, and break them open later (when their grownups said it was ok) for a special surprise!

How It Went 
This was a super fun storytime for all of us, so much better in person as opposed to the previous virtual version I did a few years ago! I really had fun with the stories and getting to use a little Spanish, which I studied in high school and college, but have mostly forgotten due to not having opportunities to use it early on. I was pleasantly surprised that most, maybe all, of the kids already knew how to count to ten in Spanish, and knew that "amigo" meant friends.

They also surprised me by how well they listened, considering both stories were on the longer side. However, they each were great read-alouds and very relatable. What kid hasn't played superheroes, or enjoyed a refreshing popsicle on a hot day? They really enjoyed getting creative with their piñatas and getting to try the paletas. I envied them, as it was very warm in the program room and I would have loved a cold treat, but alas, I am diabetic and could not indulge.

There was one really funny moment during the reading of Lucía the Luchadora. When I read the the part where the boys tell her that girls can't be superheroes, the little girl that happened to be sitting directly in front of me made a face of pure outrage and disgust that was so dramatic it made me crack up. Such a strong reaction!

For a bonus feature, I found a video of the author of The Paletero Man and his daughter making homemade paletas: