MERIDEN — Losing their dog was devastating for Daisy Torres and her son. The experience inspired Torres, a Meriden native, to write “I’ll See You On the Bridge.”
The book, which she published in 2019, is written from the perspective of her son as a child. It also became important to her to write it both in English and Spanish.
Torres said she was inspired when she met someone at a conference from a startup company who wrote bilingual children’s books. Torres was told there was a need for works written in both Spanish and English.
Losing their dog was devastating, said Torres, and even though she and her son were adults when it happened she considered “how hard it is for children, so ‘how can I take this and turn it into something positive?’” said Torres.
“I decided to write a book that would address how to help families, daycare providers, or school staff talk to children about death,” said Torres, who is director of English Learner Services for Hartford Public Schools.
All proceeds will go toward providing a scholarship to a Latino senior at Maloney High School who is entering teaching or social work.
Michelle Farella, the children’s librarian at the Meriden Public library for the past six years, says there are more bilingual books for children being published than in the past.
“It is important for kids to see themselves in books and to be able to practice in English and in another language,” Farella said.
Jasmine Ellison, a University of Illinois student, is another Meriden author who has written a multi-lingual book. Her factual story of a child coming to Meriden from Puerto Rico is in French as well as Spanish and English.
Ellison met Monin Valentin when she was shopping for books one day. Valentin told Ellison her life story and Ellison was inspired to write “Feathers in the Sky,” an account that includes experiences like Valentin’s first time seeing snow.
Ellison wanted to write a book that explored the effects of migration, as well as colonization, through a child’s eyes and the impact it may have on a child’s emotions. Ellison hopes through this story she is able to show those feelings in all languages and families are able to understand their children during these transitions.
“Monin is Spanish and moved from Puerto Rico to Meriden. It was very important that we exhibit that and put the book in that first language,” she said. “One of my teachers pulled me aside and told me about colonization in Africa and how my story is just as significant to those in Latin speaking countries ... she brought awareness to me that French was a good language to tell this story in too.”
Copies of “Feathers in the Sky” can be ordered on foreveruntouchable.com
Farella said that while the Meriden library has a selection of bilingual books there’s an interest in expanding bilingual book options at the library as much as possible.
“I get requests from parents when they are bilingual because they may speak the language at home,” she said. “It is great as a practice tool. Books have more rare words that aren't in everyday conversations, it helps with vocabulary development.”