Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education

Mexican Publisher Rolls Out Spanish-Language Book Truck In San Diego

Fondo de Cultura Económica employees unveil a new Spanish-language book truck in San Diego, Aug. 29, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
Fondo de Cultura Económica employees unveil a new Spanish-language book truck in San Diego, Aug. 29, 2015.
Mexican Publisher Rolls Out Spanish-Language Book Truck In San Diego
Mexican Publisher Rolls Out Spanish-Language Book Truck In San Diego
Fondo de Cultura Económica has launched a Spanish-language book truck intended to promote Spanish-language learning in San Diego County, and eventually across the U.S.

A Spanish-language book truck has started traveling to schools, parks, and other areas of San Diego County.

The Mexican publisher Fondo de Cultura Económica launched the book truck with the Mexican Consulate in San Diego this weekend at Ruocco Park.

José Carreño Carlón, director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica, said the truck is meant to promote Spanish-language learning, especially among the children of Latin American families.

“Our native language unites us and protects us,” he said. “That's why we’re putting forth this project.”

He said he thinks anti-immigrant rhetoric ahead of the U.S. presidential primaries makes more urgent the need for Hispanic communities to unite.

Children of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants sometimes lose their native language once they start school in the U.S. Acknowledging this, more than half of the books on the truck are children’s books.

“That’s what families are mostly demanding,” Carreño said. “Because they’re obviously interested in preserving their culture and language.”

Kaily Gonzalez picks up a copy of "El Libro del Osito," Aug. 29, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
Kaily Gonzalez picks up a copy of "El Libro del Osito," Aug. 29, 2015.

He said bilingual children have more opportunities.

Six-year-old Kaily Gonzalez was among the children who attended the truck’s launch, which included mariachi performances and youth story-time activities.

She flipped through animal-themed children’s books with names such as "El Libro del Osito," which translates to "The Little Bear’s Book."

“I think it is good because my parents speak Spanish,” she said in English.

Her father, Ismael, said he brought her to the launch of the book truck because he has noticed that her Spanish-language skills have deteriorated since she started school.

“The little Spanish (my children) know is as much as my wife and I can converse with them,” he said.

He said he hopes that reading Spanish-language books will help preserve his children's Spanish-language skills. Gonzalez added that he wants his children to learn about their Mexican roots.

Fondo de Cultura Económica plans to expand the book truck service to Los Angeles and eventually across the U.S. with additional trucks. For now, the first book truck is expected to visit a new place in San Diego County every day.

Jose Luiz Martinez, director of international affairs for the National Council for Culture and the Arts, said the book truck is an example of "cultural diplomacy."

"We are obligated to respond with a very strong 'soft power' against the 'hard power' (of anti-immigrant speech)," he said.

Remedios Gomez Arnau, the Mexican Consul for San Diego, was also at the book truck launch. She said the book truck promotes pride of heritage among children of immigrants and improves their employment opportunities.

"In this increasingly globalized world, those who know more than one language will have more doors opened to them and can be more competitive," she said.

Death At The Border-cross_t700_t480.jpeg
Matthew Bowler
Hundreds of unidentified migrants are buried in this Imperial County cemetery, June 28, 2016.