Reading & Teaching Esperanza

My daughter is reading Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan in her 6th grade ELA class and since it’s been on my list of books to read for a couple of YEARS I decided to read it with her.  It is a story that draws readers in almost immediately, and one that many can identify with and that many of us can learn from.  I found the audiobook version on YouTube (see below) and plan on playing it for my younger daughter.

You can find numerous teaching resources online (here’s one from Scholastic) and it would be perfect for lessons in character, perseverance, historical fiction, immigration, the Great Depression, or Mexican culture.  I love that my daughter’s ELA teacher has parents bring in various food items that serve as chapter titles so students can try different foods.  (A more elaborate activity could be to have students/parents bring in food items for a fiesta like the one detailed in the book.  Guest speakers from the community can also be invited to talk about their immigration experience or any personal connections they might have to this time in history.)

Other topics mentioned in the book that can be further discussed

  • Class divides: Why does Esperanza say that in Mexico there’s a river between her and Miguel?  Does the same divide exist in the US?
  • Immigration, migrant workers
  • Working conditions for migrant workers: Why do workers strike? What are pros and cons of striking?
  • Segregation
  • Dust storms
  • Discussion of various symbols in the book — the mountains and valleys in the blanket Esperanza is crocheting, the meaning behind her name, etc.
  • Other books about characters that had to persevere through difficult circumstances… For example, read Listening for Lions (Gloria Whelan) or The Higher Power of Lucky (Susan Patron) and discuss similarities and differences between the stories and characters.
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Doña Flor: Pat Mora

Doña Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart

Author: Pat Mora
Illustrator: Raul Colon
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Year: 2005
Brief Summary: Dona Flor, a respected, well-loved giant lady, sets out to protect her friends from a ferocious puma, only to find out the secret behind its big roar.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss tall tales — what are they?  what are their characteristics?
  • Discuss the Spanish words in this book.  Study Mexican-American culture.  Taste tortillas and other foods authentic to this culture…if possible, have students research and bring to share.  Arrange for a field trip to watch fresh tortillas being made.
  • Find pictures of adobe and pueblo.  Study this style of architecture.
  • Art: younger kids can make a “trumpet” by rolling up a piece of construction paper.  See how your sound is amplified.
  • Science: study how sound is amplified/changed.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.   

Accessed at: Capilano Library

Chato and the Party Animals: Gary Soto

Chato and the Party Animals

Author: Gary Soto
Illustrator: Susan Guevara
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Year: 2004
Brief Summary: Chato loves to party but not his best friend Novio Boy.  When Chato decides to throw Novio Boy a birthday party, he remembers all the details except for the most important one of all — inviting his friend!
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Pura Belpre Award, 2002′ ‘ Winner’ ‘ Illustration’ ‘ United States’ ” ‘Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 13th Edition, 2002 ; National Council of Teachers of English
Notable Children’s Books, 2001 ; ALSC American Library Association
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, July 2000 ; Cahners

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss Spanish words used throughout the book.
  • What are some things Chato does to get ready for the party?  Imagine you’re planning a party or a surprise for someone.  What are some of the things you need to put on your to-do list?  Write out your to-do list.  What are some other kinds of lists that we make on a daily basis?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc. — glossary of Spanish terms that appear in the book;

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

Abuela: Arthur Dorros

Abuela

Author: Arthur Dorros
Illustrator: Elisa Kleven
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Year: 1991

Brief Summary: A little girl’s imagination takes her and her grandmother up into the sky and they explore New York City together.
Awards, Honors and Prizes: 

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss Spanish vocabulary encountered in this book. What does “abuela” mean?  Ask students if they have special names for their grandmother, or if they know what grandmother is in other languages.
  • Write about your grandmother.  What do you love most about her, or what is something that she’s really great at?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

Tomas and the Library Lady:

 

Tomas and the Library Lady

Author/Illustrator: Pat Mora; Raul Colon
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Year: 1997
Brief Summary: Based on the true story of Tomas Rivera, this book tells about a migrant family and how their boy, Tomas, discovered and fell in love with public libraries.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Social Studies: Who are migrant laborers?  Can you imagine being in a family of migrant laborers and having to move frequently?  Discuss Mexican Americans and their culture.
  • Talk about Tomas Rivera, who this book is based on, and how the love of reading and the generosity of the librarian had changed his life.  Think about someone in your life that has made a big difference.  Write about what he/she has done that helped you in some way.  Who inspires you?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library