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Spanish 301 Class Provides Saturday Storytelling

Publication Date: 10/9/2012

Jourdaen Sanchez ′15 reads to two participants of "Hora de cuentos."

Every Saturday morning, when many Rhodes students are just beginning their weekends, Annie Moir ’15 and her classmates are already wide-awake and interacting with children on campus. Members of Professor Elizabeth Pettinaroli’s Spanish 301 class, otherwise known as Spanish Culture and Conversation, have begun hosting “Spanish Storytelling” on Saturday mornings at 10:30 in the Paul Barret Jr. Library. The event is titled "Hora de cuentos," which means storytelling time in Spanish. It’s designed for children ages 3-10, and is a weekly opportunity for children to expand their knowledge of the Spanish language through storytelling and crafts.

“I think kids learn a lot by being exposed to Spanish culture,” Moir says. “We read a few American stories that have been translated into Spanish, but mostly we try to focus on books in Spanish by Latin American authors. I think it’s also helpful for children to learn Spanish by repeating the words that we are reading. One week, they were able to do that when we read The Three Little Pigs in Spanish.”

Moir and Pettinaroli came up with the idea at the beginning of the semester, when Moir was brainstorming ways that she could connect her Spanish minor with community service. The two talked to various organizations and libraries about where to host the event, and eventually decided to have the story time at Rhodes, where they could organize and implement it with ease. Since the story times are open to all children, Moir has been spreading the word through fliers and newsletters at neighborhood elementary schools, and has already enjoyed good participation from the children of Rhodes faculty and staff.

“Each week, we read three or four books and then do a crafts project,” says Moir. “One of the books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar which involves the children creating their own caterpillars and butterflies with materials such as pipe cleaners, paper and buttons.

Although Moir coordinates the initiative, all students in Pettinaroli’s class participate, reading to the children in alternating weeks. The story times will run until Dec. 8, and the class hopes to see even greater community participation as the semester continues. They will continue to advertise at local schools, and in La Prensa Latina, the Memphis bilingual Spanish newspaper. Moir also hopes to reach out to Latino Memphis, a nonprofit organization that seeks to expand opportunities for the Memphis Hispanic population, to market the event to a greater audience.

The Spanish Storytelling at Rhodes is one of many ways to observe National Book Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month, both of which take place in October. There are various events all around the city open to the public, including the 2012 Día de los Muertos Memphis celebration at El Mercadito on October 29.

For more information, contact Annie Moir at moiar-15@rhodes.edu.

 (information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ’13)

Tags: Campus Life, Events, Faculty, Service, Students

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