Interview With The Authors Of Lil' Libros

Anna Avalos, Senior Librarian, Multilingual Collections,
two little boys reading children's board books, sitting on the ground with their backs against the same huge pile of books
Photograph by Karina Llamas

Lil’ Libros are bright and perfect books for parents who want to introduce children to Latin American culture, history, and traditions! Lil’ Libros are baby and toddler boardbooks that use one word and one image per page making it easy for children to learn first concepts such as numbers, colors, and body parts. I reached out to authors Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein to learn more about them and how Lil’ Libros came about.

Patty Rodriguez is from Lynwood, CA and the mother of two boys: Alexander, 6, and Oliver, 22 months old. In addition to Lil' Libros, she is a producer for the internationally syndicated On Air With Ryan Seacrest radio show.

Ariana Stein is a first generation Latina born in Los Angeles and raised in Lynwood, CA.  She’s married to her husband Nick, and they have a 4 year old son, Ethan who keeps her on her toes!  They also have a dog Fifi, a cat named Blue, and an adopted squirrel that lives in their back yard.

The authors and publishers of Lil Libros, left to right Ariana Stein and Patty Rodrguez. Two women standing side by side wearing jeans and a t-shirt, smiling holding up their books

From Left to Right:  Ariana Stein and Patty Rodriguez, photograph by Karina Llamas

What are your favorite hobbies, books or movies?

Patty: I love The Princess Bride. I read that book when I was in the 6th grade and to this day it still holds a very special place in my heart. The story has everything: love, mystery, action, humor.

Ariana: As a child, I was always attracted to Dr. Seuss books. I’m a firm believer that a children’s book should be educational, bright, and fun!  Now as an adult, I love to read motivational books that inspire me to be a better person.  My latest read was by the wise Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last.  When I’m not working, I love to draw, play the guitar, shoot photos, and try new restaurants! 

How did the idea of ​​"Lil' Libros" come about?

Patty: The idea came about when I was pregnant with my first child 7 years ago. I was looking for bilingual boardbooks that celebrated my culture and at that time they did not exist. Then a few years later, Ariana had her baby and the universe brought us together!

Ariana: Patty had been on a bilingual journey since her first-born Alexander was in her belly.  She submitted manuscripts to many publishers hoping to jumpstart this project with their support.  Unfortunately, many said no and it was a discouraging moment for Patty. Around that time, I remember having a conversation with her about how desperately we wanted our children to be bilingual.  We wanted to ensure that our children's generation learned about their culture's history, and that assimilation did not get the best of them. We shared ideas but more importantly, we shared the same passion for the goals we had envisioned. When she shared her story and asked me to embark on this journey with her, my heart immediately knew that together, we could change the world. We agreed to start Lil’ Libros on that very day. The rest is history… 

Where did the interest for writing children's books come from? What motivates you to write children's books?

Patty: Personally, I have always loved books and have always dreamed about this. This is a dream for me. But our biggest motivation is empowering and inspiring our community. There is so many layers in our mission, but that is very much on top of the list.

Ariana: Our children have been the inspiration for writing children’s books. The best thing you can do for a child is to introduce them to literature at an early age. It sparks imagination, creativity, and confidence! Children at this age are like sponges. They absorb everything you do for them. If we are able to help set a foundation and love for reading, we’ve done our job. 

a photograph of a display of lil libros children's board books. colorful illustrations with titles such as Loteria, Celia, Guadalupe and La Catrina

Photograph by Karina Llamas

What do you think about the importance of reading in Spanish?

Ariana: Patty and I both grew up in a predominantly Spanish household. It is part of our identity. Without Spanish literature, we wouldn’t be able to teach our children who we are and where we come from. Not only that, but Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and by 2020 at least 40 million Americans will speak Spanish. How awesome is that? 

Patty: It is extremely important. The Spanish language is very much an extension of our culture. One of the best ways to teach a child the language is to read to them in Spanish.

What advice would you give to parents who want to teach their children to speak Spanish?

Ariana: Don’t give up. Be patient. I try to incorporate Spanish in everyday life. We read, sing, and play games in Spanish. The most important thing is repetition, consistency, and having fun with it!

Patty:  It can be challenging, especially when English dominates the household. But children are sponges, they pick everything up. Our books are perfect early tools to help keep parents motivated and inspired to create a space for children where Spanish is part of it.

Which Lil’ Libros is you favorite? Why?

Ariana: It’s so hard to pick just one book, but I’d choose Lucha Libre because it reminds me of my childhood and my father. I remember him coming home from work, having dinner and immediately turning on the TV to watch the fights. 

Patty: Our first one, Loteria, will always hold a very special place in my heart. It was the tangible proof that dreams do come true.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome before you published the first book?

Ariana and Patty: The biggest challenge was we didn’t have any publishing experience when we started. We went into the industry headfirst and had to learn everything from scratch. At the time, Google was our best friend, professor, mentor, and everything in between.

What advice do you give to those that want to become book authors?

Ariana and Patty: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Learn from other authors. Go to book events, expos and put yourself out there. Surround yourself with people that encourage you. Believe in yourself, believe in your work, submit your ideas, and never give up.

a halloween and dia de los muertos display with two lil libros board books pictured: La Llorona and La Catrina

Photograph by Karina Llamas

Are you already planning the next book?

Ariana and Patty: We have two books coming out next Spring. It will be our first geography baby book and a second biography. Super excited to share those details with you soon!

What is next for you? Do you plan to write more books?

Patty: Our goal is to be the premiere bilingual publisher in the world! To open our house to our community's talent!

Ariana: We plan on expanding and creating books for the older age groups. This will allow us to grow with the child. Our goal is to ensure that parents trust us with their children.

If you would like to borrow Lil' Libros boardbooks, call or visit your local branch library and ask a libarian about them!

We are happy to help you find these boardbooks.