Students inspire a teacher’s aide to write a book for early readers at the preschool campus.
Virginia Guajardo has been working with Aldine ISD’s youngest students for 27 years. She started out as a volunteer before serving as an aide at Mendel Elementary School where her five children attended. She has served at the Hinojosa EC/PreK Center for 17 years.
Guajardo recalls how the children inspired her to write the book while working with Kathy Flores who is a teacher at the campus. Guajardo has served as Flores’ aide for 23 years.
“I had been working with the Ms. Flores on reinforcing the letter ‘Q’ with students,” Guajardo said. “The teachers had just introduced the letter in class to the students. In the library, we used books that emphasized used words with the letter ‘Q.’
“At the time we were working with the students, the word ‘quilt’ came to mind. And I remembered the story about my grandmother’s quilt that I had penned on a piece of paper years ago. It was a story my mother told me when I was young. I just thought the students would enjoy the story.“
She told her story orally to the children. But Guajardo couldn’t stop thinking about writing a book for the young students to enjoy. She worked with early readers and had seen many books that target this age group. She had the words but didn’t know how to draw to illustrate the story to engage her young readers. The answer was nearby. Well near as in a family member. Guajardo decided to ask her sister Edelmira Torres to help her illustrate the book.
“I thought it was a great idea to create the book,” Torres said. “So I helped to edit Virginia’s story to keep the wording simple for early readers and I created the illustrations for the book. We both agree that illustrations help young readers better connect to the story and make it more entertaining. I had another motive to help Virginia with the project. I wanted kids to see that they can be illustrators and write a book if they set their mind to it.”
So this is how the book “Grandmother’s Quilt” came to be. Guajardo now reads her book to students, especially when they are learning the letter “Q.” They get to hear the story of how Guajardo’s abuelita (Spanish for grandmother) created a quilt when she was born to keep her warm. She tells how her grandparents would rock the children to sleep by singing a lullaby. She tells them that maybe they have heard the song themselves. She sings “A la ruru chiquitita” (Sleep My Little Baby). The students smile as they recognize the Spanish lullaby.
A la rururu chiquitita,
A la ruru ya.
Duérmase mi chiquitita,
Esta niña linda que nació
en una noche fría,
Quiere que la lleven a comer sandía.
Este niño lindo que nació a las doce,
Quiere que lo lleven
a pasear en coche.
A la rururu chiquitito,
A la ruru ya.
Duérmase mi chiquitito, duérmase ya.
The book is mostly written in English but there are several Spanish references.
“It was important to keep some of the cultural heritage in the story,” Guajardo said. “It is my family’s heritage. And many of the students that attend Hinojosa EC/PreK are Hispanic. I think it helps the students connect when they see someone like themselves in books.
“I am happy they enjoy the story that serves as a memory of my mom and grandmother.”
And what does sister Lupe Flores think about the book?
“I got a lump in my throat when I first saw the book,” said Flores. “I am getting a lump just now talking about it. It is a wonderful memory. And I am proud of Virginia and Edelmira’s work. It is a beautiful book.”
The closeness that exists between the sisters is obvious. They also have a long history in Aldine. All three attended AISD schools as well as their children. Like Guajardo, Flores and Torres also worked for AISD. Flores just recently retired after working 32 years at Johnson Elementary School as a registrar clerk. Torres achieved her lifelong dream to be a bilingual teacher. She taught in AISD before moving and working for another school district. Torres is now retired.
“I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up early on,” said Torres. “The teachers I had in Aldine inspired me to teach.”
“I hated retiring,” said Flores. “I love Aldine! I love Aldine!”
Guarjardo isn’t ready to retire just yet.
“The students keep me coming back,” said Guajardo. “I get a lot of enjoyment from getting the chance to work with them and to help them succeed.“
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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