RENÉ COLATO LAÍNEZ, the author of three bilingual picture books for children, was born in El Salvador, but moved to the United States in 1985.
He was inspired to be a writer by his great uncle, Jorge Buenaventrua Laínez, at whose house he first learned the word “escritor.” He began writing as a child, putting in to words stories about his toys and school. As he grew older, civil war broke out in El Salvador and his family was forced to leave the country. On their difficult road to the United States, Colato Laínez wrote about his dreams, desires, and adventures. Even in high school, he showed promise as a writer; many of his articles and poems were published in the Spanish-language school paper, La voz estudiantil.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from California State University at Northridge in 1993. There, students performed two of his stories, Black Sheep Among White Lambs and Blood Tears. He has more recently taken writing courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature, Highlights Foundation, and California State University at Northridge, UCLA, as well as with renowned bilingual children’s literature authors, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has been a bilingual elementary teacher for many years. His students call him “the teacher full of stories.”
His three children’s books deal with issues relevant to immigrant children. They are: Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá (Piñata Books, 2004); I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño (Piñata Books, 2005, which received Special Recognition in the 2006 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People and the International Latino Book Award for Best Bilingual Book; and Playing Lotería / Jugando lotería (Luna Rising, 2005), a finalist in the 2007-2008 Tejas Star Book Award, was named to Críticas magazine’s “Best Children’s Books” of 2005 and received the 2008 New Mexico Book Award for Best Children’s Book. His most recent bilingual picture book, René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos, cleverly tells the story of a young boy embracing his Hispanic culture as he helps his classmates understand its importance.
René is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults and a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. René is a children’s literature columnist for LA BLOGA, the blog for Latino literature; LOS BLOGUITOS, the blog for children who are learning to speak Spanish; and Revista Iguana, a Spanish-language children’s magazine. He was named one of the “Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read)” by latinostories.com. His website is www.renecolatolainez.com.
He currently resides in Arleta, California.