The Heights

Desayuno Con Libros connects Latino families over books and breakfast

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Author Jonathan Rosales is 16 years old and has lived in The Heights area of Memphis for most of his life. He is a member of the Kingsbury High Flying Falcon student media team and is interested in a career in journalism. High Ground News is committed to community-centered reporting, which includes promoting the next generation of on-the-ground journalists whenever possible. High Ground is proud to host Rosales’ first professional article.

The Latino community is increasing in America and the children who arrive or are born in the United States are focused mainly on learning the most common language — English. Many children end up forgetting Spanish or never learn it, and this could be a problem since not everyone in their neighborhoods and families speak English.

Books in both Spanish and English line the tables at Desayuno Con Libros held monthly at Gaisman Community Center. (Jonathan Rosales)Desayuno Con Libros is an event that focuses on making sure families keep their Spanish language alive.

The event is held at Gaisman Community Center every fourth Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Organizers have seen as many as 180 people and as few as 50.

Breakfast with Books started a year ago, first in English. Lead by the Coalition for Concerned Citizens, it’s held the third Saturday of every month at the Westwood Community Center in South Memphis. Those organizers helped launch the Spanish language version, Desayuno Con Libros, in February.

Desayuno Con Libros is organized by a collaboration among Comunidad de Sonido de una Voz, Memphis Latino Cultural Center and Coalition of Concerned Citizens. The goal is to focus on getting parents to read books with their children in Spanish. Kids and parents could choose from a variety of books from children’s books to novels to historical books and even dictionaries, in both English and Spanish.

The organizers want to make sure that the kids can embrace their culture and practice their Spanish and the parents can spend time with their children reading, learning and even enjoying breakfast provided by the group.

“The idea of this event — which is Books and Breakfast — came out of the Black Panther’s idea back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when they use to host something similar,” said Ivan Flores, a founding organizer of Desayuno Con Libros.

The books were donated by people and collected from around the city for participants to choose from. Flores wants to make sure that the children and parents are encouraged to read in part because he’s concerned with the amount of time children spend watching television. Flores wants kids to communicate with others on what they’re reading and research any questions they might have.

Flores’ goal is to expand the event to different areas in the city for more parents and children to share a good time and a good book.

“My children collect books that they have already looked at and read. They brought seven books to share with the other families,” said Maria Sebastian, a mother of four. Sebastian and her children attended a Desayuno Con Libros event on November 24.

She likes having her children bring their old books that they’ve already read to share with other families because she wants her kids to make new friends for them to talk to and share their ideas and opinions with. She said it’s also just a fun activity for everyone, and she hopes the community will grow.
Children chose bins and buckets to make drums and shakers. Memphis Heartbeat-Latidos Community Project played Afro-Brazilian songs for before everyone joined in with their handmade instruments. (Jonathan Rosales)The organizers encourage young people to come out to help with the event and get the word out to families. Organizer Cristina Condori mentioned how they need young people to volunteer to help with making a social media platform so they can spread the word for the upcoming events.

At the November 24 event, Ivan Ortega-Santos, a musician and father who regularly attends Desayuno con Libros, was on hand with the Memphis Heartbeat-Latidos Community Project to play Afro-Brazilian songs and to educate the youth on the culture.

According to their Facebook page, the group is a batucada or samba street band that creates community through drum circles, classes and street performances. Children were even given the chance to make their own instrument like buckets for drums and rice, beans and plastic containers for shakers to play along with Heartbeat and the parents. Ortega-Santos has been playing professionally for two years.

The organizers hope to have more guests at upcoming events and continue to combine fun activities for the children and parents along with educating about different cultures and growing a love for the Spanish language. They also hope to expand soon.

“On the fourth Saturday of every month, we have it here and the idea is to start in other places,” said Condori.
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El autor Jonathan Rosales tiene 16 años y ha vivido en el área de “The Heights” en Memphis durante la mayor parte de su vida. Es miembro del equipo de medios estudiantiles de “Kingsbury High Flying Falcon” y está interesado en una carrera en el periodismo. Jonathan Rosales, 16, has been a resident of The Heights for most of his life. He’s a junior at Kingsbury High School and a member of their Flying Falcon student media team. In his spare time he enjoys art, helping to plan and decorate for school events and spending time with friends and family outside in his neighborhood and beyond. He’s still exploring future career options but some aspirations include journalist, interior designer, chef, guidance counselor, personal stylist and school administrator.