Bilingual / For the Children

By Rose Treviño

A Collaborative Program of the Houston Public Library and The Children’s Museum of Houston


Para los niños / For the Children was developed collaboratively by the Houston Public Library and the Houston Children’s Museum. This outstanding bilingual family literacy program is available online at, and we invite libraries to offer it during the summer and throughout the year. The site is available in both English and Spanish. Just click on your preferred language!

Program Description

Imagine a place where kids are engaged in stories, and more. They learn science and math skills through picture books. They work with a parent in a friendly learning environment. Imagine a place where immigrant families whose first language is Spanish can come and find that the program is conducted in Spanish or bilingual, English/Spanish with handouts that are bilingual in Spanish and English. Welcome to Para los niños/For the Children. First introduced in 2004 at two branch libraries of the Houston Public Library in a pilot program funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grants, the program has grown and now includes multiple libraries at the Houston Public Library, the Harris County Public Library, the Broward County Library, the New York Public Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library. This partnership between The Children’s Museum of Houston and the Houston Public Library has allowed the library to serve the Spanish-speaking communities in Houston and to provide training for national partners in Minneapolis, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City and Brooklyn. Libraries throughout Texas are invited to share these excellent resources! Instructions for implementing the program are available in the downloadable tool kit at

The goal of the program is to provide monolingual Spanish speaking parents with increased access to resources, strategies and activities that improve their ability to serve as the “first teachers” of their children, ages birth through seven. The program has been developed into eight themes with activities that are easy to replicate in libraries and at home. Links to each of the eight programs are at Downloadable handouts for each program are available in a bilingual (Spanish/English) format.

  1. Theme: Communication. This program presents opportunities to identify the best attributes present in a family, and to further develop these attributes through sharing and active listening.
  2. Theme: Healthy Minds/Healthy Bodies. This program presents a range of “do’s and don’ts” related to stimulating brain development and proactively limiting exposure to harmful substances.
  3. Theme: How Children Learn Best. This program presents strategies for identifying and supporting each child’s unique learning preferences.
  4. Theme: Loving Limits. This program presents opportunities to examine parenting styles through group discussion, role-play and dramatization.
  5. Theme: Math at Home. This program presents strategies for facilitating activities that help children to learn mathematical concepts and to appreciate math’s “real world” connections.
  6. Theme: Raise a Reader. This program presents strategies for engaging children in activities that facilitate the development of pre- and early-reading skills.
  7. Theme: Taking Time/Taking Turns. This program presents strategies for taking part in play and recognizing its positive influence on a child’s development.
  8. Theme: Your Child’s Self Esteem. This program presents strategies for building a child’s sense of self worth by viewing a child’s behavior against the backdrop of his or her search for identity and self-respect.

Repetition, group participation, and creative dramatics are all part of the story experience. The following tips for parents are included in every program.

  • Reading with your children is very important
  • Books should be appropriate for age and ability
  • Reading connects you with the world

Here is an outline for presenters describing the format for the programs.

  1. Welcome parents and their children to the library and to the program.
  2. Provide a simple introduction about what will happen during the program.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Ask questions about situations in the story and let participants discuss the story.
  5. Distribute library card applications to parents who do not have a card and assist with filling them out.
  6. Present learning activities related to the theme.
  7. Give parents bilingual handouts, plus an easy to replicate activity sheet with supplies to do this at home.
  8. Provide a display of books related to the parenting theme for checkout.

A few sample programs are included below.


  1. Story time with child and parent(s)
  2. Discussion with parents about the importance of reading and interaction
  3. The hands-on learning activities


  1. Prepare the learning activities before the date of the workshop.
  2. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the workshop.
  3. Set up the activities and prepare the handouts to share with the participants.
  4. Greet and invite the families to the workshop area.
  5. Gather the families together either on the floor or sitting in chairs for the story time.
  6. Model good reading techniques using dialogic reading and book descriptions during the story related to the theme.
  7. Talk to the parents for about 20 minutes about the theme of the day.
  8. Allow about 10 minutes for discussions and questions.
  9. Gather the parents and children and explain all of the activities and talk about how they relate to the theme.
  10. Facilitate the activities, encouraging the parents to work with their children.
  11. Make sure all parents have the handouts including the directions for the activities.
  12. Give the families information about using the library and assist them in getting a library card.
  13. Invite the families back for the next workshop.

Texas Reading Club 2009 Programming Manual / Libraries: Deep in the Heart of Texas!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011