Venezuelan creates children’s history book

by Becky GINOS BOUNTIFUL—What started as a simple visit to the Bountiful Historic Museum with her children turned into a four-year project for Claudia Leal. The result – a colorful children’s picture book about the history of Bountiful. “I love to travel with my family and take the opportunity to visit new places,” said Leal, who came from Venezuela to Utah 14 years ago. “When we moved to Bountiful I discovered the historical museum. While we were visiting there one of my kids said ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if they had a children’s picture book to read at home about the history?’” Leal was working on her master’s degree in community leadership/arts & culture at Westminster College at the time and needed a project. “I thought it would be great to create a picture book that would help children and serve the community,” she said. “I found a professional artist, Martin Blundell, and asked if he would help. He was raised in Bountiful so it was perfect.” She jumped into the project and did extensive research on the historical facts about Bountiful. “History helps us to understand the people and culture and to know our origins. If we understand change in our history it helps us avoid past mistakes.” Leal interviewed people from multiple museums in Utah to see how they used children’s books. “They help a child’s construction of meaning and promote an entertaining way to learning,” she said. “It’s also a way to engage families with the museum.” The museum staff also provided her with facts about Bountiful. “I read about how to make a children’s book and how to write for children,” said Leal. “Martin did research to create accurate images. I also had children read it. It was so fun when it was finished and I read it to my kids and to other children. They immediately engaged with the images and stories.” It’s taken four years, but “We Love Bountiful: A Celebration of Bountiful History” is now available at the museum. Leal and other volunteers will be reading the book as part of the Handcart Days celebration at the museum from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 21. “The main purpose is completely educational,” said Leal. “I grew up in a Jewish community and attended a Catholic college then became a member of the LDS church. Religious freedom is important to me. I was touched by how the pioneers suffered to preserve their religion.” Leal’s family was involved in the process too. “My kids were very, very excited,” she said. “I set up the book in the middle of other books and when they found it they said, ‘wait a minute, mom look!’ I read it to each one separately to see their reaction. I have a very supportive husband too. He helped a lot. I couldn’t have done it without him. It was teamwork.” The books are available at the Bountiful Historic Museum for $12. The museum is located at 305 N. Main Street.


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