Proceeds will help local nonprofits with parent support programs. With a love of Chicago in her heart, Oak Park resident Virginia Martinez takes advantage of exploring the city's educational institutions with her young grandson Rio Ignacio, 2, whether it's going to Brookfield Zoo or the Shedd Aquarium.
OAK PARK, Ill., Nov. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- With a love of Chicagoin her heart, Oak Park resident Virginia Martinez takes advantage of exploring the city's educational institutions with her young grandson Rio Ignacio, 2, whether it's going to Brookfield Zoo or the Shedd Aquarium.
While these trips with her grandson bring the proud grandmother great joy, she also understands the importance of encouraging young children to learn about neighborhoods, cities and the world at large. These concepts gave her the inspiration to create her first children's book "Adventures with Abuela: Let's Go To The Zoo" published by Fig Factor Media. The book, which is geared to children ages 1 to 4, is written in English and Spanish as a way to get Latino and other families to share the love of reading with their children.
Based partially on a real-life experience, readers follow Rio's visit to the famous Brookfield Zoo located in the Chicagoland suburb of Brookfield with his mother, father and "Abuela"—the Spanish word for grandmother. Dressed up as a lion, Rio and his Abuela observe the many animal denizens such as a sleeping tiger, a fierce crocodile, and groups of friendly goats, giraffes and monkeys. He realizes that he has some similarities with these creatures. For example, crocodiles have teeth to chew food as does Rio. Tigers also take afternoon naps as does Rio.
Martinez, who is of Mexican heritage, got her sense of adventure from her mother who took her and her siblings to the zoo and many museums such as the Museum of Science and Industry. It was also her mother who encouraged her children to read.
"My mom always had books in the house," said Martinez who by trade is an attorney working for the State of Illinois. "I remember her getting the Encyclopedia Britannica so we could have a resource to help us with our homework. It was a significant investment back in those days."
Profits from the book sales will be used to donate books to Gads Hill Center, Mujeres Latinas en Accion and Association House of Chicago for their parent support programs—resources to help many African-American and Latino families who live in working-class neighborhoods such as North Lawndale and Pilsen. Those programs touched Martinez's heart as she learned from one of the organizations that some of the children never visited downtown Chicago.
"My original idea for writing this book was for my family but then I thought about this issue of children who live in certain neighborhoods who never left them," she said. "To me, those children have never experienced all the riches that the city offers."
Martinez envisions her book to be a series with the goal of encouraging parents, grandparents and caregivers to plan trips with their young children to the many public institutions and outdoor activities that are available to them. This book has given her a deeper connection with her family.
"My legacy is my relationship with my children and grandson," she said. " I felt that I needed to do this book so that Rio will remember our experiences at any age."
"Adventures with Abuela" is available on Amazon.
About Virginia Martinez: Virginia Martinez was born and raised in Chicago and currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Virginia has a son, Miguel, and daughter, Natalia. In 2019, she became a grandmother for the first time. Her grandson Rio Ignacio has become the joy of her life, leading her to begin a social media account of their adventures together. Her decision to write children's books comes with dual goals of providing interesting stories for children as well as providing parents, grandparents and caregivers with information that will help them access the many wonderful parks, zoos, and museums the metropolitan area offers. These resources can help young children develop the love of learning.
Virginia is an attorney who has spent most of her career working in non-profit organizations and has been a strong advocate for Latinos, women, and children. She has volunteered with many organizations over the years and currently sits on the Board of Directors of Gads Hill Center and volunteers with the Vaccine Brigade.