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.

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

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