It’s no secret that here at Love Child, we are big supporters of teaching your child a second language. Contributing author Karen Trombetta shared resources, personal stories, and different perspectives on raising your children bilingual. One of Karen’s resources and a favorite of my little boy, is Canticos, Latino nursery rhymes for toddlers. The Canticos brand was started by two moms who struggled to find content that would help teach their own children their heritage and language. So what’s a mom to do? Launch a brand that fosters bilingual literacy, of course! They started with the very nursery rhymes that they grew up on but with a modern twist to include apps, books, videos and more. We sat down with founders Nuria Wolfe and Susie Jaramillo to discuss the inspiration behind the brand, how they balance motherhood and running a business, and what’s next for Canticos. Hint, hint, their latest books, Ratoncitos launched this week!
What was the inspiration behind starting Canticos?
We both grew up bilingual and bicultural. Speaking English and Spanish. Loving American and Latino culture. As moms, we both struggled to find content that would help us share our cultural heritage and language with our kids, all while helping them become strong readers and bilingual speakers. To bring to life all the things we loved about our culture, and to give parents tools to foster bilingual literacy, we launched Canticos – a collection of Latino nursery rhymes. Canticos is for kids of all backgrounds and in addition to promoting bilingual learning, we hope the books, apps and videos we make also expose kids to this rich culture.
Canticos is the first Latino nursery rhymes collection. How do you decide which stories to tell?
We focus on the most popular Latino nursery rhymes from across Latin America and Spain. We also select a few seasonal favorites to add bilingual fun throughout the year. We’re super excited for our upcoming Halloween/Day of the Dead book: Little Skeletons – Esqueletitos. Not scary, just fun!
Canticos stories are not only limited to books but also include videos and an app. Was this always the plan or did it evolve as technology has evolved?
We launched the company a year ago with the goal to be a cross-screen and off-screen brand. We believe kids learn best while they’re playing, regardless of format. Every product we make is designed to tap into the power of creative play. Last year we launched our first title Little Chickies – Los Pollitos with a bilingual (English/Spanish) interactive board book, and with e-books, a digital app, and sing-along videos in 8 different languages.
As mamas of bilingual children, can you share your experience and any tips for our readers?
Susie: Start reading to your child as early as possible in both languages. Find books that are simple and fun to read in both languages and have fun with it! Act out the stories and do the voices.
Nuria: Use music! Even if you don’t speak the secondary language that your child is learning, you can always use music as a learning tool. Catchy tunes and simple lyrics will get your child singing, learning, and having fun. YouTube is a great source for kids multilingual content.
Susie, after 15 years in the advertising world, you left your job to start Canticos. Nuria, after over a decade in tech and media, you also decided to take the leap. Many of our readers are on the brink of starting their own business. How did you know it was time?
Susie: My greatest fear is to grow old and not do what I was set on this earth to do. If you know you can cover the basics (food/shelter), there is no excuse not to listen to that quiet inner voice that says: “This is a good idea and I can do this.” Most of us can always get a job. Only the brave can truly build something worthwhile. Be brave!
Nuria: There’s nothing more exciting than bringing something to life. After years of being part of start-up teams and advising entrepreneurs, it was only a matter of time before I lead my own endeavor. Susie’s vision for Canticos resonated with me not only as a Hispanic market expert, but also as a new mom. Coupled with our joint-vision to build a company that not only fosters early literacy and bilingualism but also gives back to the community, it was the perfect project to bring to life.
Can you share 1-2 pieces of advice for balancing running your own business and motherhood?
Susie: Honestly – it’s the same as when we worked. The key is solving the childcare challenge whether it’s through placing your kids in afterschool programs to give you a few more hours of work time or joining a nanny share to bring down the costs of childcare. I’m a huge proponent of the nanny share (maybe it’s because I live in an apartment in Brooklyn) but if you have a share with 1 nanny and 4 – 5 kids, you can significantly bring your child care costs and have additional time to focus on your business. And try to avoid Netflix at night – get your sleep and wake up early! Being ahead of things and staying organized and disciplined is half the battle.
Nuria: Make it a family (and friends) affair. Being an entrepreneur, just like being a mom, is not a 9 – 5 job. Why not incorporate some of your favorite people into your work? We are constantly looking at our inner circle (siblings, nieces/nephews, past colleagues, close friends, etc.) for support, ideas, advice, and consulting or freelance work. Being surrounded by loving friends and family not only makes the work more enjoyable, but it also means you don’t have to feel guilty about not having enough time to spend with your loved ones. And make time for yourself. As flight attendants will remind you: “Put your mask on, FIRST.” Make time to rest and refuel. You can’t work at your best when you don’t feel your best. Schedule gym and girlfriend time as you would any other meeting. And don’t cancel on yourself!
What’s next for Canticos?
More bilingual fun! We’re super excited about our 4 upcoming accordion style boards books launching this year and can’t wait to bring you simple board books next year. We’re constantly exploring more ways to bring these stories to life through different formats both on and off screen. Look out for more FREE apps and sing-along videos on our YouTube channel. Follow us on social media to be among the first to know.