An award-winning Spanish author whose children’s books have been translated into a dozen languages visited Woodstock schools last week.
Margarita del Mazo held storytelling sessions for kindergartners through fifth-graders and conducted workshops for teachers throughout Woodstock School District 200. Del Mazo is the author of popular children’s books, including “No Quiero Ser Rey” (“I Don’t Want to be King”) and “Camuñas,” both of which she featured during her visit from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.
Del Mazo made her presentation entirely in Spanish for students in the district’s dual-language program, which features instruction in both English and Spanish. She collaborates with Spain’s Cervantes Institute, which promotes Spanish language and culture.
“I am so impressed because the students are learning and understanding me,” said del Mazo, who trained as an attorney but whose family tradition of storytelling, she said, paved the way for her writing career.
At a Nov. 1 session with fourth- and fifth-graders at Prairiewood Elementary School, dozens of children sat captivated by del Mazo’s animated storytelling, which was peppered with silly voices, drawings and even a few magic tricks.
“[My favorite part] was when she did the funny voices and when she was doing the cool actions and the magic,” said Jesus Flores, a Prairiewood fifth-grader.
Del Mazo’s books are part of the district’s third-grade Spanish literacy units, and they’re available in school libraries.
“It was interesting,” said fifth-grader Juan Mireles. “Our teacher taught us about her, and we thought her books were interesting.”
Del Mazo also visited Dean Street, Westwood, Olson and Mary Endres elementary schools as well as Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center, and she hosted a workshop for teachers at Olson. While in McHenry County, she also visited schools in Harvard and Crystal Lake.
“It was such a cool opportunity to bring somebody from Spain here,” said Jennifer Bigler, a fifth-grade dual-language teacher who teaches in English. “It’s awesome that these kids had this opportunity.”
Del Mazo’s awards include the prize for best illustrated children’s fiction book at the International Latino Book Awards and a Gelett Burgess Award.