¡Celebre! We have Spanish-language books for National Latino Books Month

May 10, 2013

We celebrated a holiday this week that has become an increasingly important celebration in the United States in recent years. It’s El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, or Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) to commemorate the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 when Zaragoza and the Mexican Army beat Maximilian’s French soldiers back to retreat. Not a Mexican national holiday, it is not widely celebrated in Mexico; in fact, it is a government holiday only in the states of Puebla and Veracruz.

Cinco-de-mayo-Papel-PicadoSince the 1860s, Mexican American communities in the United States have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  In recent years, the holiday has become a great day to celebrate our rich Mexican heritage in this country. Today, Cinco de Mayo has become a BIG holiday. Huge. !Una fiesta grande! It’s a great reason to hang papel picado, play conjunto norteño and eat Mexican-style food, and practice speaking Spanish.

Image: Papel picado is a tradition from the Mexican state of Puebla to make hanging decorations with intricate designs cut out of colorful tissue paper. It is now used all over Mexico and in Mexican American celebrations of all kind. Image Credit: Amols.com

In fact, on June 7, 2005, Congress asked the President to issue a proclamation “…recognizing that struggle and calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” At the same time, May is also National Latino Books Month, celebrating books by and for Latinos.

Spanish Language books for National Latino Books Month at the GPO US Government BookstoreSo to commemorate this fun holiday and the great contributions of Latino and particularly Mexican culture, GPO would like to highlight a few of the many great Spanish language publications from the Federal Government.

Free Electronic Spanish Language Publications

GPO distributes a large number of publications and cataloging records to Federal Depository libraries– there were 288 Spanish language titles sent to libraries in 2012. A number of the items cataloged in Spanish in the April 2013 record load were related to public health– if you need documents on the flu shot, or cancer facts for people over age 50, forgetfulness or getting a good night’s sleep, the Federal Depository library’s got them. If you are interested in more technical documents, such as Malformaciones arteriovenosas y otras lesiones vasculares del sistema nervioso central – your Federal Depository library’s got those, too. Maybe you’re studying information about relations between the United States and Mexico; you’ll find source material such as Boundary Waters Minutes of the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the Environmental Cooperation: Border Area signed by the United States and Mexico in September and November 2012.

El Estado de los Bosques en Puerto Rico - The State of the Forests in Puero RicoA really beautiful book for you to seek out is El Estado de los bosques de Puerto Rico, 2003. The cover art and the photos are wonderfully colored and detailed– look at the picture of the coqui on the page in between the cover and title pages. Another helpful detail is the appendix at the end of the book that provides the species name, the name in English and the communal name in Puerto Rico. The Forest Service wrote this document for researchers, but it’s quite possible for grade school students or laypeople to read parts of this volume and glean useful information about Puerto Rico’s forests and natural resources.

Download the electronic version of this publication at one of your local Federal Depository libraries.

Print Editions of Spanish Language Publications at the US Government Bookstore

At the GPO U.S. Government Online Bookstore, you can find a number of Spanish language publications that will help individuals and families with parenting advice, citizenship tests, and learning more about Latinos in Congress and the Federal Government.

Libro Poder de los Padres - Parent Power book by the Department of EducationPoder de los padres para trazar el camino hacia el éxito is the Spanish-language version of the best-selling Department of Education book, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success, which advises parents on helping their children succeed at all stages of their high school careers, from pre-school through high school. The book contains a number of tips for parents to use, and give specific examples of how to put the tips into practice, for example: “Be positive. Praise goes a long way with children, especially those who struggle in school. Provide positive feedback.”

There are also checklists of developmental goals for the various age groups, for example: Middle school– “Is there a transition program for students leaving elementary school and entering middle or junior high school?” Tips and checklists like these can keep parents on target with a child’s developmental stages. Even if the parent is familiar with all of these talking points, it helps to have them clearly laid out for reference.

Another helpful Spanish language resource available from the GPO Bookstore is the Tarjetas de educación cívica para el examen de naturalización. As any cramming student (or former cramming student) knows, handheld flashcards are a key tool in memorizing information for a test, with a question on one side and the answer on the reverse. Previously only available in English, this new Spanish version of the perennial best-selling Civics Flash Cards for the Naturalization Test is highly useful not only for legal U.S. residents studying for their citizenship exam, but also for teachers and parents who teach standard civics lessons.

Tarjetas de Educacion Civica para ele Examen de Naturalizacion USASince the people who write the flash cards also set the test questions, the questions and answers are accurate (barring the warning about current appointments of specific officials). Instead of researching the answer to “¿Cuáles son dispuestos a nivel de gabinete?”, get the flash cards and be sure of the correct answer (hint: you’d be right if you said Secretario de Estado and Secretario del Tesoro, although there’s more than two right answers). If you teach citizenship or civics classes, or if you are studying for the test yourself or helping a friend or family member to study for the test, you are going to want to buy a copy of these cards. For a quick test of your knowledge of civics topics, take our Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

All of this varied and valuable information, and more, is available en español at the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore and Federal Depository libraries nationwide.

How can I obtain a copy of these Spanish-language publications?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original  post in the FDLP Community site blog by Government Book Talk Editor, Michele Bartram, GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager.)


Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

September 20, 2012

Flash cards. They may bring back memories of studying for a big exam like the SAT or GRE, or they may remind you of elementary school when they were used as a great way to learn your numbers and letters.

But did you know that the US Government Printing Office produces flash cards for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Citizenship under the Department of Homeland Security?

This week marked an important milestone for all U.S. citizens as the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.

September 17 is now commemorated annually as Constitution & Citizenship Day, a time to reflect on the rights, honors and privileges of being a U.S. citizen, so I thought it was a perfect time to introduce our readers to the Civics Flash Cards.

Civics Flash Cards are one of the most popular products sold in the US Government Bookstore as a tried and true way for immigrants and to learn about U.S. history and government while preparing for the United States naturalization test.  These easy-to-use flash cards (available in English and now also in Spanish) contain each of the 100 civics questions and answers contained on the United States naturalization test, and are updated when there is a change of leadership in the White House or Congress.

The Civics Flash Cards also feature interesting historical photos and relevant captions, thus providing additional civic learning opportunities, making them ideal not only for use as an instructional tool for U.S. citizenship preparation, but also in standard American social studies classes or home schooling. For example, one card contains a picture of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, while another shows Hiram Revels of Mississippi, the first African American U.S. Senator, elected in 1870.

A description of the Spanish version of the Civics Flash Cards:

Recién actualizadas para 2012, las Tarjetas Flash de Educación Cívica en Español ayudarán a a los inmigrantes a aprender sobre la historia de los EE.UU. y del gobierno mientras se preparan para el exámen de naturalización. Estas tarjetas de memoria fáciciles de utilizar contienen cada una de las 100 preguntas y respuestas cívicas (sobre la historia y el gobierno) del exámen de naturalización estadounidense, y conllevan fotos históricas y leyendas pertinentes a que proporcionen el aprendizaje cívico adicional.

Failing grade in civics for American kids… and maybe their parents?

In 2010, The Department of Education administered the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP test, known as the nation’s report card, to 27,000 4th-, 8th- and 12th-grade students throughout the United States.

The New York Times reported that the civics examination results were dismal, as “fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights… and only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Of the high school students who took the NAEP, 75% “were unable to demonstrate skills like identifying the effect of United States foreign policy on other nations or naming a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.”

Reading through the flash cards, it makes me wonder how many native U.S. citizens— parents and children— could correctly pass the test given to immigrants aspiring to become citizens?

See how you compare to these 8th and 12th graders on these questions constructed from information on the Civics Flash Cards

(Hint: I provide the correct answers at the end of this post ;-) since they are trickier than one would think!)


Another question


And finally, some geography:

HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN a copy of the Civics Flash Cards for the Naturalization Test, either the English Version or the Spanish Version?

You may also be interested in our other Constitution and Citizenship products, such as the pocket edition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Click here to shop our entire Citizenship Collection.

Correct Answers to the Flash Card Poll Questions:

1)      Which of these does NOT represent one of the powers of the Federal Government under our Constitution? To provide protection & safety such as police and fire services is a function of state and local governments.

2)      Which of these are responsibilities that are only for United States Citizens?  Only citizens may vote in a Federal election, serve on a jury, or run for Federal office such as U.S. Senate or House of Representatives and for most state and local offices. Unfortunately, everyone has to pay Federal taxes, citizen or not!

3)      Which of these states does NOT border Canada? Of all of these, only Wisconsin does not share a border with Canada. All the international border states with our northern neighbor are (east to west): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania (border on Lake Erie), Ohio (also border on Lake Erie), Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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