Do I Belong Here?/ ¿Es Este Mi Lugar? (Bilingual English/Spanish)

by René Colato Laínez (Author) Fabricio Vanden Broeck (Illustrator)

Do I Belong Here?/ ¿Es Este Mi Lugar? (Bilingual English/Spanish)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Award-winning children’s book author René Colato Laínez teams up again with illustrator Fabricio Vanden Broeck to explore the experiences of newcomers in schools and affirm that yes! They do belong.

An immigrant boy stands “in the middle of a whirlwind of children,” and wonders where he is supposed to go. Finally, a woman speaks to him in a language he doesn’t understand and takes him to his classroom. A boy named Carlos helps orient him, but later when he reads aloud, everyone laughs at him. And when he gets an “F” on an assignment, he is sure “I do not belong here.” But gradually the boy begins to learn English. He works hard. He always pays attention, finishes his homework and most importantly never gives up. He begins to recognize words. “I understand now. Open is abrir, books are libros and page is página.” And when the kids invite him to play soccer, he thinks, “Maybe I belong here.” As the boy’s grades improve and he make friends, he realizes, “I belong here.” And when he sees a girl looking lost, sure she doesn’t belong, he can say with certainty: “Not yet. But you will.”

With beautiful acrylic-on-wood illustrations depicting children at school, this bilingual kids’ book by a Salvadoran immigrant tells an important story that will resonate with all kids who want nothing more than to belong.

El galardonado autor de libros infantiles René Colato Laínez se une nuevamente al ilustrador Fabricio Vanden Broeck para explorar las experiencias de los recién llegados a las escuelas y afirmar que ¡sí! Ellos pertenecen.

Un niño inmigrante se encuentra “en medio de un torbellino de niños” y se pregunta a dónde se supone que debe ir. Finalmente, una mujer le habla en un idioma que no entiende y lo lleva a su salón de clases. Un niño llamado Carlos lo ayuda a orientarse, pero luego, cuando lee en voz alta, todos se ríen de él. Y cuando obtiene una "F" en una tarea, está seguro de que "no pertenezco aquí". Pero poco a poco el niño empieza a aprender inglés. Él trabaja duro. Siempre presta atención, termina sus tareas y lo más importante nunca se rinde. Comienza a reconocer palabras. "Entiendo ahora. Abrir es abrir, libros son libros y página es página”. Y cuando los niños lo invitan a jugar fútbol, ​​él piensa: "Tal vez pertenezco aquí". A medida que las calificaciones del niño mejoran y hace amigos, se da cuenta: "Pertenezco aquí". Y cuando ve a una chica que parece perdida, segura de que no pertenece a ese lugar, puede decir con certeza: “Todavía no. Pero lo harás."

Con hermosas ilustraciones en acrílico sobre madera que representan a niños en la escuela, este libro infantil bilingüe escrito por un inmigrante salvadoreño cuenta una historia importante que resonará en todos los niños que no quieren nada más que pertenecer.

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School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--René goes to school for the first time and is very confused. He is trying to find his classroom, but the teachers and students don't speak Spanish. When he arrives, he tries to understand what is being asked of him and takes the tests he is given, but is laughed at and gets a big red F. He feels like he doesn't belong. With time, his Spanish-speaking friend Carlos and his soccer-loving friend Robert help him with his assignments and play with him at school. He thinks that maybe he belongs. As even more time passes, he is able to start reading and writing in English. His class cheers for him when he aces his spelling test. He finally feels as if he really does belong. When a new classmate joins the school only knowing Spanish, he reassures her that with time, she, too, will belong. VERDICT A bilingual text that offers an empathetic look at how immigrant children start to learn little by little, and adapt to their surroundings and friends. Recommended for all shelves.--Melanie Ortega

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
René Colato Laínez
RENÉ COLATO LAÍNEZ is the author of numerous picture books for children, including My Shoes and I / Mis zapatos y yo (Piñata Books, 2019), Mamá the Alien / Mamá la extraterrestre (Lee & Low Books, 2016), From North to South / Del norte al sur (Children's Book Press, 2013), René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos (Arte Público Press, 2009) and I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño (Arte Público Press, 2005). He is an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, California. FABRICIO VANDEN BROECK is a designer, illustrator, painter and professor of design at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco in Mexico City. He illustrated My Shoes and I / Mis zapatos y yo (Piñata Books, 2019).
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Pianata Books
Publication date
May 31, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV011030 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic & Latino
Library of Congress categories
United States
Spanish language materials
Estados Unidos
Hispanic American students
Immigrant students

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