Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Latino lullabies and nursery rhymes for young children (ages 1 - 5)

Young children love the rhythmic, repetitive sounds of nursery rhymes and lullabies. I love sharing with young children rhymes from around the world - talking about how every culture passes on poetry from generation to generation. These two bilingual collections are wonderful for sharing with young children.

Arrorró, Mi Niño
Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games

selected and illustrated by Lulu Delacre
NY: Lee and Low Books, 2004
ages 1 - 3
available on Amazon or at your local library
CD of lullabies available from CD Baby
Lulu Delacre writes, "I still remember the first time I held my older daughter in my arms to lull her to sleep. As I held her, a soothing song surfaced from deep within my memory, as if it had been waiting to be called upon by the soft cries of my baby. I later found out that this song was the same lullaby my mothyer had sung to me as a child in Puerto Rico." Arrorró, Mi Niño is full of a mother's love for her young child. Delacre share 15 lullabies and finger games from the Latino culture. Some are soothing songs to lull your child to sleep, others are silly tickling games or rhythmic clapping songs. The original Spanish versions are paired with English translations. The English versions do not always rhyme, but are fun to read playfully. The finger games are geared for very young children, perfect for babies and toddlers. Here is the first verse from the title lullaby:

Arrorró, Mi Niño
Arrorró, mi niño,
arrorró, mi sol,
arrorró, pedazo
de mi corazon.

Este nino lindo
se quiere dormir
y el picaro sueno
no quiere venir.

Hush-a-Bye, My Child
Hush-a-bye, my child,
hush-a-bye, my sun,
hush-a-bye, tiny piece
of my very own.

This beloved child
years to fall asleep
but the naughty sandman
has yet to bring sweet dreams.
(c) Lulu Delacre
The artwork in Arrorró, Mi Niño is beautiful. Delacre shows Latinos in all parts of American life: storytime in the library, shopping at a market, visiting a museum, working in fields. The oil paintings are warm and the figures realistic.

Muu, Moo!
Rimas de animales
Animal Nursery Rhymes

selected by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
English versions by Rosalma Zubizarreta
illustrated by Vivi Escriva
NY: Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2010
ages 2 - 5
available on Amazon or your local library
Muu, Moo! is a fun collection of traditional animal rhymes from Spain, Latin America and the United States, shared in both Spanish and English. It is suited for a slightly older audience than Arrorró, Mi Niño - preschoolers and kindergartners will enjoy this the most.

Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, authors of Pio Peep!, have collected traditional rhymes they remember from their own childhoods, and ones that children with whom they have worked - from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Central America - have loved the most. They have also included five of their own original poems. Alongside each Spanish poem are English versions, adaptations which keep the spirit, rhythm and musicality of the Spanish instead of being literal translations.

Children will have fun with the many animal sounds and silly stories. I particularly had fun with the donkey whose head was hurting, so the doctor told him to put on a black tie, then a white tie, then a black hat. As spring is trying to spread on this windy April day, I'd like to share one of Alma Flor Ada's original poems from this collection:
by Alma Flor Ada

En el prado el caracol
saca los cuernos al sol.
Como premio, el girasol
le da un beso al caracol.

La abejita presurosa
saluda a la flor preciosa.
Que promesa, la primera
manana de primavera!

by Alma Flor Ada

A tiny snail is winding along,
Stretching his feelers toward the sun.
When she sees the snail in bliss,
A sunflower leans over to give him a kiss.

A busy bee joins in the play,
Buzzing over to say, "Good day!"
Oh, what delights a day can bring
On this very first morning of Spring!

(c) Alma Flor Ada
The review copy of Muu, Moo! was kindly sent by the publisher. The copy of Arrorro, Mi Nino came from my public library. If you make a purchase using these Amazon links, a small portion will go toward Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.


  1. Oh I love this book! Wonderful book review!

  2. Muu Moo is a great book, I loved not being familiar with the rhymes. My favorite was My Donkey.