From Teaching to Writing
TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator to reflect on their journey from teaching to writing. Enjoy the following from Ana Siqueira.
Since I was a little girl growing up in Brazil, I studied by teaching my stuffed animals. I wanted them to be engaged, so I taught them through stories, very long ones. I tried teaching my mom through stories too, but she would get tired before I could finish my two-hour narratives. However, her patience and motivation inspired me to become… Guess what? A teacher and a writer.
And I continue teaching through stories, only now I teach Spanish to my elementary school students. We have to solve complicated plots, such as how to help an elephant find a jacuzzi he can fit in.
I decided to delve deeper into the culture by connecting my English-speaking students with Spanish-speaking school children.
But, of course, when teaching a World Language, we must also teach the culture. As a teacher and author who believes we are all different, yet all the same, I decided to delve deeper into the culture by connecting my English-speaking students with Spanish-speaking school children. They got to share their likes, customs, foods, and fears. They even sang, played games, and danced together.
My commitment to teaching my students to be Global citizens was rewarded. PBS nominated me as their Local Media Innovator, and I was granted an opportunity to be trained as a Global Teacher by IREX which culminated in an all-expenses-paid trip to visit and teach in India. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life where I confirmed that, despite our differences, we are all the same. The children were quiet and never talked out of turn. Maybe a difference. But they all love candy, fun, and being silly. All the same.
And between teaching my students about children around the world and sharing fun stories about lost llamas, I got a request from my second-graders to write a story in Spanish based on the viral video, The Duck Song by Bryan Oden. And that’s how my author’s story started in this country. I wrote and sold a book called El Pato Quiere Uvas to Teacher’s Discovery, an educational company that publishes World Language material.
Since then, I have been teaching and writing non-stop. My debut book, illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez, titled Bella’s Recipe for Success came out in 2021. And now in 2022, I have another book coming out both in English and Spanish: If Your Babysitter is a Bruja/Cuando tu niñera es una bruja. This one is a story based on my daughter and the day she thought I was a bruja, or witch. And no, I was not mean to her. I just told her she could not have her 100th “last” dive in the ocean, and that we had to leave.
They all need to know they can be heroes, princesses, scientists, or even brujas, good ones
In all my books, my missions are:
- To represent Latinx kids. As a co-founder of @Latinxpitch – a Twitter event that helps Latinx creators to find agents or publishers – I genuinely believe all children need to see themselves represented in books. They all need to know they can be heroes, princesses, scientists, or even brujas, good ones. And all children should learn and experience the world through other children’s eyes.
- To make Spanish speakers feel proud of their language and to help non-Spanish-speakers feel motivated to learn the same. As a Spanish teacher, I can’t miss a chance to teach the language. I pepper all of my stories with Spanish words.
- To allow children to notice how we are all connected through universal emotions.
And for my bruja book, where this full-of-imagination girl believes her babysitter might be a witch, I want the kids to be transported to a fun world filled with cocodrilos, magic potions, and Twisted Torres. Readers, by connecting with this girl’s fears and ingenuity, will not only learn what it takes to be a bruja but also learn not to judge a book by its cover—or a bruja by her sombrero.
Books and Resources
TeachingBooks personalizes connections to books and authors. Enjoy the following on Ana Siqueira and the books she’s created.
Listen to Ana Siqueira talking with TeachingBooks about the backstory for writing If Your Babysitter is a Bruja. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.
- Listen to Ana Siqueira talk about her name
- Explore the bilingual Teaching Guide for If Your Babysitter is a Bruja
- Discover Ana Siqueira’s page and books on TeachingBooks
- Visit Ana Siqueira on her website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and GoodReads.
Special thanks to Ana Siqueira, Blue Slip Media, and Simon & Schuster for their support of this post. All text and images are courtesy of Ana Siqueira and Simon & Schuster, and may not be used without expressed written consent.