Brooklyn Sisters Share Hispanic Culture

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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Brooklyn – As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, PIX11 highlights two Brooklyn-based sisters and early childhood educators of Dominican origin who hope to expose young children to all cultures and backgrounds through their new book, “Travel Con Lola”.

Natalie and Jessenia Rios are the co-founders of Little Lola & Tots, a cultural and educational play space in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“We are very motivated by cultural exploration,” said Natalie Rios. “Most of our programs are bilingual in Spanish because we are fluent in Spanish.

The programming of the space is based on empowering children of all ethnicities and opening their minds to different traditions and languages.

Natalie Rios said that cultural education makes the child more balanced and sensitive.

The sisters are first generation Dominican-Americans. Growing up, they spent their summers in the Dominican Republic with their grandmother.

“The summers in the Dominican Republic were amazing but also very humbling,” said Jessenia Rios. “There were times when the lights would go out and all of us kids would run around the streets and just play with each other.”

These experiences are shared in their first book, “Travel Con Lola to the Republica Dominicana”, which is dedicated to their grandmother.

The book is written in “Spanglish” and aims to show children that it is okay to be different and to accept others.

“We wanted the kids to see themselves in our book,” said Jessenia Rios.

The sisters want the book to become a series, with Lola’s character traveling to different countries and experiencing as many cultures as possible.

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