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Photographed by Perla Farias

Mi Casa Is My Home: A New Kids’ Book That Embraces Spanglish

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photographed by Perla Farias

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! Which means there’s no better time than now to scoop up a children’s book that explores one of the many rich facets of Latinx culture—whether it’s a story about an inspiring real-life boundary-breaker or a playful fiction tale spotlighting Hispanic characters and culture.

If you’re looking for a fresh option in the latter category, be sure to check out Laurenne Sala’s new book, Mi Casa Is My Home, illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang. The colorful book introduces us to main character Lucía, who then takes the reins and introduces us to her expanded familia and the favorite aspects of su casa.

The story intentionally zig-zags between English and Spanish, as so-called Spanglish is actually the author’s language of choice.

“I’m on a constant quest to perfect my Spanish, since my Spanish/Puerto Rican dad decided it wasn’t important to teach me,” the L.A.-based mother of three—including 7-month-old twins and an older daughter—explains. “I spent a long time being ashamed of my less than perfect Spanish and Hispanic roots that had been boiled down in America’s melting pot. After trying to be perfectly fluent and failing so often, I realized Spanglish is my favorite language and began to write how I think and speak.”

With this duality in mind, the vibrant text incorporates both languages, which will ring familiar to other Spanglish speakers. Meanwhile, it’ll offer new vocabulary opportunities for young bilingual learners.

Esta es la peurta,” the story begins. “It’s where Abuela like to stand and wave to the neighbors. It’s where the mail carrier leaves packages from mis tías en Peurto Rico o mi familia en España filled with turrones or dulces or gifts for our cumples.”

The Spanglish angle was also close to the heart of illustrator Zara Gonzalez Hoang, a mother of two who also grew up with a Puerto Rican father and in a multi-ethnic household. “I felt like Laurenne wrote this book for ME!” enthuses Zara, who filled the book with a range of beautifully diverse characters, as well as numerous interior details that are revealed with each read.

To see the gorgeous new title for yourself, be sure to scoop up Mi Casa Is My Home at BookshopAmazon, or your favorite local bookstore. You can also follow Laurenne @salisima and Zara at @zarprey on Instagram.

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