“When we love someone, Papi tells me, we sing to them, we send our love through song.” Ernesto Javier Martinez
I have holes in my classroom library where beautiful stories are waiting to fill. I notice the holes each and every time I hear of a story just like the one I’m going to share today. This weekend I got the opportunity to enjoy a fabulous virtual conference NCTE20 Confluencia: Songs of Ourselves. It was at this conference where I learned about the HBO Latinx short film winner La Serenata during a Build Your Stack Session. Not only was I immediately interested in watching this short film I quickly learned that the short film was based on a picture book: When We Love Someone We Sing to Them: Cuando Amamos Cantamos by Ernesto Javier Martinez. As I listened to the first few pages of this bilingual lyrical text I knew it needed to be in my classroom waiting for hands to pick it up and read it. How did I not know about this book??? I kept questioning myself. The book is the winner of multiple awards including 2019 International Latino Book Award (Best Children’s Picture Book in English), 2019 International Latino Book Award (Best First Book-Children & Youth-Bilingual) and 2019 American Library Association “Rainbow Book”.
How did I not know about this book? Again, I have holes in my classroom library.
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them: Cuando Amamos Cantamos is a story of a young boy who learns about a Mexcian tradition from his father about the art of song and a serenata. The boy learns that his art of song to show your love is traditionally between a male and a female but he wonders why it can’t be between a boy and a boy because he wants to write one. This book, this story, this piece of art feels like its own serenata to our world. This own voices book is meant to be shared by all and cherished for the love it radiates. I will leave you with the author’s note that that called me to action. I need more books like this one in my classroom. I need to actively find ways to fill the holes that are waiting for stories experienced from the global majority…these are the stories that tell of our world and humanity.