Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

Francisco Alarcon
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Join bilingual poet Francisco Alarcon as he helps a group of third-grade students tap into their dreams and write poetry. You'll need the RealOne Player ( to see the three-minute video clip.
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
Becoming Bilingual
Read Together With Francisco Alarcon
Roots of Reading Roots of Reading
Sounds and Symbols
Fluent Reading
Writing and Spelling
Reading for Meaning
Reading Rocks!
Empowering Parents
Becoming Bilingual
  Full Overview
Read Together
Helpful Articles
Reading and the Brain
A Chance to Read
Toddling Toward Reading Toddling Toward Reading

For poet Francisco Alarcon, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Mexico, "The border doesn't really exist." A self described bilingual Mestizo Chicano American "Mejicano" writer, and a person that's a dreamer, Mr. Alarcon publishes his poems bilingually. It may look unusual, but to English language learners it's life – bouncing from English to Spanish and back again, thinking and dreaming in both.

"It's OK to write about your own dreams from your own perspectives and using your own language."

"guau guau"
he first
greets you
in Spanish

and in case
you don't
him then

"bow wow"
he repeats
in English

Selected Books by Francisco Alarcon


Angels Ride Bikes: And Other Fall Poems/Los Angeles Andan En Cicicleta : Y Otros Poemas De Otono
Revisit and celebrate Mr. Alarcon's childhood memories of autumn in Los Angeles, where dreams can come true.

Black Cat

From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano
Mexico becomes a magical vision as Mr. Alarcon visits his grandma and other relatives in these bilingual poems.


Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risuenos y otros poemas de primavera
Tomatoes laugh, chiles explode, and tortillas applaud the sun in this playful and moving collection of twenty poems in English and Spanish.

Mr. Alarcon uses his work to get kids writing poems of their own, in whatever language they love. "There are about 40 million Latinos now in the States, and I think the majority of those Latinos are bilingual. They have this connection with the Spanish language, and each language, I believe, is a window to the universe, and so the more windows you have, the more access to the universe you have, too."

Believing that poetry is about empowerment, especially for children, Mr. Alarcon encourages young children to "Find your own voice. It's OK to write about your own dreams from your own perspectives and using your own language. And for a child to discover this sort of magical way of looking at everything, I think that's the beauty of poetry."

Symbol: Gato
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