"I have a secret / Tengo un secreto" - A book review about Bilingual Pride.

One of the most frequent statements I hear when someone meets my 3 year old daughter is “She speaks Spanish very well”, and then it follows with  “ My children used to speak too, but once they entered school, it was gone”.  That is very discouraging to hear for any parent who wishes their children to continue speaking their mother’s native language. Recently, I have been thinking of ways and doing research on how to encourage my daughter to keep speaking Spanish once she starts school.


Within my Instagram account, I was lucky to come across an expert on this subject and from whom I am learning all about raising a bilingual child. Maritere R. Bellas (@latinaboomermom)  is also the author of the book “I have a secret / Tengo un secreto”, a published picture book that made me think deeper into one of the reasons why our children lose their home language once they enter school.


Yunito is the main character, an elementary age kid who knows how to speak Spanish, but doesn't want anyone to find out. He is even starting to ask his mom to address him only in English. Yunito’s main concern was that he didn’t want to be different from his friends who only spoke English. As his mom chats with other mothers at the park, she realizes that they, as well, have the same problem.


It was after I read this book that I came to the realization that parents can’t do it alone. We need the support of our children’s teachers and schools, not to teach Spanish, but to promote pride for bilingual student's culture and language, as well as to support a healthy emotional and mental state. Yunito’s teacher helped him understand that speaking another language is a special gift, and made him feel PROUD.


PROUDNESS is what will keep our children speaking their mother’s language, PROUDNESS is what will encourage them to keep learning it, and “to be PROUD” is the feeling that we, parents and educators, need to creating in our children.


There are plenty of children in Yunito’s situation. I have witnessed this over the years as an educator. Yunito is not alone. “I have a secret / Tengo un secreto” is a book that they can relate to,  and with it's eye-catching and diverse illustrations by Jayri Gomez, children will find themselves drawn to it. I highly recommend all Elementary teachers to read this book in the first week of school.


This is a formal book review and the opinions expressed are purely my own.