For two years Mrs. Bea’s Spanish Storytime has been a hit for children in the North Hills. In libraries, cafes, and now virtually during the pandemic, the lessons have entertained children and provided a much welcomed option to connect kids to Hispanic cultures in Pittsburgh.
“What I enjoy the most about storytime is sharing the Spanish language with children who are curious about learning it. I read some books in English and Spanish simultaneously to make it easier for beginners to acquire new vocabulary” shared Mrs. Bea.
The adored Mrs. Bea is Beatriz Conte, a passionate educator from Chile with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language Education (at the elementary level) and a master’s degree in Family Counseling. She lives in O’Hara with her husband Sebastián, and their children: 11-year-old Fernando, 9-year-old Rosario, and 3-year-old Elena.
Her journey as Mrs. Bea began when she tried to connect her kids with the Spanish language and culture at her local library the Cooper Siegel Community Library (Fox Chapel). At the time, she noticed few Spanish or bilingual English-Spanish programs and books. To make a difference for the community, Beatriz offered to do Spanish storytime there and suggested Spanish books to increase the library’s collection. The staff was very receptive. Beatriz was thrilled to see all her sugested books in a cart by the entrance to the children’s area one day! Spanish storytime took off.
In time, Beatriz and the library team even created a traveling suitcase available for checkout including books and games in Spanish. Families could write about their experience on an enclosed journal for future suitcase users, before returning it to the library. This was a hit – pre-pandemic!
In addition to the library sessions, Mrs. Bea began hosting Spanish Storytime at Tu y Yo Café in Harts Run Road. She also received a call from Hampton Community Library interested in starting storytime there. Unfortunately, with quarantine beginning in March, and everyone adjusting to a new reality, plans changed.
Beatriz wasted no time. She created a group on Facebook for live storytime. Children from her prior groups joined and their parents shared the news with people in the community. Beatriz’s love for teaching Spanish shines through all her live virtual sessions. She even makes it a family event – her daughter Rosario joins in on the adventures and assists in each storytelling.
“The pandemic has been tough, I really miss being surrounded by the children. I love seeing their faces as I tell the stories and ask them questions. I am confident that we will return to that in time. For now, virtual Spanish storytime keeps the children learning the language from home, and I can still do what I love,” shared Beatriz.
In addition to teaching Spanish, last year Beatriz and a friend also hosted a Latin American cultures themed after-school program at O’Hara Elementary (Fox Chapel School District). Beatriz loved the project and hopes to do it again this year, perhaps in an online format.
We congratulate Beatriz for her passion teaching Spanish language and Hispanic traditions to children in Pittsburgh! Visit her Facebook page “Spanish Storytime with Mrs. Bea” to learn more about her FREE sessions taking place every other Sunday – next session is Sunday, September 13.