A Love for Literacy: Fonseca Uses Degree in Elementary Education to Write Books for Spanish-Speaking Families
Growing up in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic gave Bethany Fonseca a love for language early on. While pursuing a degree in elementary education at Grace College, she also realized she loved teaching. Now, she’s embracing a new venture that combines the best of both – writing bilingual books for Spanish-speaking children.
Fonseca’s husband, Lucas, and his twin brother, Arturo, launched Language Matters, a company that provides language services, during their studies at Grace. The company offers language learning programs to individuals and organizations and seeks to equip learners and leaders to bridge the language and culture gaps in our world. While a student at Grace, Fonseca began working for Lucas and Arturo as a language tutor. It was through her experience with Language Matters that Fonseca’s passion for writing bilingual books was born.
“I realized that there were very few books — not just in libraries, but in the market in general — that were available in Spanish and spoke to Hispanic experiences,” said Fonseca. “We hear from a lot of Hispanics who have spent their lives in Spanish-speaking homes that they can’t write or read in Spanish — some are even losing their abilities to speak Spanish.”
According to Fonseca, Spanish-speaking children are attending school and exclusively hearing the English language. And because Spanish isn’t taught or used in many classrooms, children come to the conclusion that Spanish isn’t an academic language. Fonseca started the Bilingual Books Project in the winter of 2022 to get Spanish books into the homes of Hispanic families. The project is intended to help more and more kids see that Spanish is indeed an academic language.
“Our goal is to help Spanish-speaking kids develop a greater love for literacy through the creation of children’s books that speak to their experiences and are written in their language,” Fonseca said. “We want to create opportunities, like scholarships and workshops, to encourage them in their Spanish abilities.”
The project now has six books with versions in English and Spanish that are ready for publication. Fonseca and her team are currently looking for an agent or publisher.
“My degree in elementary education and my time at Grace really shaped my career path,” said Fonseca. “When I was offered a position as a high school Spanish teacher as a result of my experience at Grace and in language tutoring, I never looked back!” she said.
Fonseca used her love of language and learning to meet a need in the communities she serves.
To connect with Bethany and the Bilingual Books Project team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.