Guía del educador: El árbol de la rendición

¡Saludos a todo/as!

The-Surrender-TreeEspero y estén muy bien. Estoy muy emocionada por presentarles la guía del educador en español de esta semana. El libro se llama El árbol de la rendición por Margarita Engle. Pueden encontrar el guía en la página principal de Educator’s Guides, pero el link directo a la página en español también está disponible aquí. Recuerden que las guías del educador también están disponibles en PDF en la misma página, y obviamente en los dos idiomas.

Ojalá disfruten de este libro y del guía!


Hello everyone!
I hope you are all doing well. I am excited to present this week’s Spanish-language Educator’s Guide for the week. The book is called The Surrender Tree/El árbol de la rendición by Margarita Engle. You can find the Spanish-language guide in the Educator’s Guide main page, but the direct link to the Spanish page is also available here. Remember that the guides are also available in PDF form on the same page, and obviously are available in both languages.

I hope you enjoy this book and its guides!

Hasta la próxima,

Valeria

En la Clase: Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con Madre Tierra

Talking with Mother Earth | Jorge Argueta | Vamos a LeerIn this week’s En la Clase we’re looking at Jorge Argueta’s children’s book Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con Madre Tierra.  This bilingual poetry book not only speaks to this month’s theme of  diversity within Latinx identity, but is also an excellent resource for those teaching a critical history of conquest and colonization.  As with last week’s featured book, Argueta’s poetry is simple but powerful.  It elicits both critical thought and personal reflection.  Through these autobiographical poems we learn about Tetl:

“Tetl’s skin is brown, his eyes are black, and his hair is long. He’s different from the other children, whose taunts wound him deeply, leaving him confused and afraid. But Tetl’s grandmother knows the ancient teachings of their Aztec ancestors, and how they viewed the earth as alive with sacred meaning. With her help, he learns to listen to the mountains, wind, corn, and stones. Tetl’s journey from self-doubt to proud acceptance of his Nahuatl heritage is told in a series of powerful poems, beautifully expressed in both English and Spanish” (Goodreads).

In last week’s En la Clase, we discussed the importance of authentic cultural referents in children’s literature.  Argueta’s book demonstrates why this is so powerful.  Too often when we discuss native cultures and Indigenous peoples in our classrooms, it’s done in the past tense, as if they no longer exist.  In Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con Madre Tierra readers learn about the childhood of Jorge Tetl Argueta who identifies as Pipil Nahua.  Argueta writes his poems in first person present tense.  While this may seem an insignificant choice, it’s not.  The explicit and implicit messages sent through the language in our children’s books are powerful.  The use of third person, past tense, or passive language can perpetuate ideas such as Indigenous peoples no longer exist, they have no agency, or they are to blame for the violence that is/was enacted upon them.  For more on this conversation, see Jean Paine Mendoza’s article “Goodbye, Columbus: Take Two” from A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children October is often the month in which students learn about Columbus, exploration, conquest and colonization.  It’s important to model for our students how to critique the oppressive messages conveyed in both the fiction and non-fiction literature they read on these topics, and to provide them examples of empowering narratives such as Argueta’s.

Discussion Suggestions:Talking with Mother Earth | Jorge Argueta | Vamos a Leer

Written in a child’s voice, Argueta’s poems are not only engaging reads for younger audiences, they are empowering.  It’s heartbreaking to read about the racist bullying that Tetl endured:

“Cracked-foot Indian,”
my schoolmates used to call me
and laugh at my bare feet.

“Flea-bitten Indian,”
they would call me
and pull on my hair
long and dark as the night
“Indian called down from the hill
by the beat of a drum,”
they would tease me and while the teacher
wrote on the blackboard, they would hit my back.

But, when we continue to live in a society that claims to be color-blind or post-racial, there is something powerful about naming this racism and the stereotypes being perpetuated.  Tetl’s words reveal a vulnerability that provides the space to discuss bullying and racism in a very open way.  This type of bullying continues to happen in classrooms and playgrounds across the nation.  While it’s certainly a complex problem, it’s not going to get any better until we’re willing to have the sometimes hard and uncomfortable conversations about racism in our classrooms.  Argueta’s book provides one way in which to do that.  We talk frequently about literature providing mirrors, windows, and doors.  Here, students who have been bullied are provided a protagonist who speaks both to the experience and how he chose to overcome it. We can also hope that those who have acted as bullies will begin to reflect on the causes and consequences of their behavior.

Talking with Mother Earth | Jorge Argueta | Vamos a LeerIn Dr. Laura Harjo’s introduction to the LAII’s recent screening of the film Tambien la Lluvia, she talked about how one of the effects of conquest, colonization, and colonialism can be seen through the deadening of land as it became property that could be owned.  Argueta’s poetry together with Lucía Ángela Pérez’s beautiful illustrations offer a much different view of land.  Here, Mother Earth is something both alive and powerful.  Exposed to a powerful counter narrative through the introduction to Nahua beliefs and spirituality, readers will hopefully develop a greater appreciation for Earth and the many facets of nature that we often take for granted, such as the wind, sun, water, or plants.

Activity Suggestions:

There’s a lot you could do with the book beyond a read aloud.  These ideas are just a start.  It’s certainly an excellent mentor text for poetry writing.  Argueta discusses his own childhood experiences with both openness and vulnerability.  Using this as a model, ask students to think about a hurtful experience they’ve had.  Perhaps they’ve been bullied, or they have bullied another student.  This could become the inspiration for their own poem.  It’s also an excellent text to use to teach nature poetry.  Ask students to think about the ways in which we take different elements of nature for granted.  Then, choosing one of these elements, each student can write their own poem as Argueta did. If time permits, have students illustrate their poems.  Then, create a class book of the poetry for display.

We’re not alone in thinking this is a wonderful book.  It has received both the  International Latino Book Award and Américas Book Award.

As always, I’d love to hear what your students think about the book!

Katrina

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International Books: Brazilian Children’s Literature

brazil-5Saludos todos y boa tarde gente! I’m stopping in outside of my normal Monday book reviews to bring you some awesome additional content! Today I have two great books to share that were lent to me by Dr. Leila Lehnen from UNM’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The books are written by Brazilian authors, and I’m sharing them with you here in an effort to draw more attention to international children’s books and authors from other countries.

Part of my inspiration writing this post comes from my recent effort to learn Portuguese through an intensive course that I took in Rio this summer. Later in the year I’ll feature some kid’s books that I bought myself while in Brazil. These titles may be hard to get a hold of from the United States, but not impossible. Our hope is to highlight these books to expand our discussion beyond US-based authors’ renditions of Latin America and to pique your interest in or stimulate a discussion on international children’s books.

brazil-7Before I get started reviewing our two books for today, I wanted to give you all a bit of information about Brazilian children’s literature in general. According to Publishing Perspectives, “the children’s book market in Brazil is the biggest in the industry.” Moreover, 2016 is an important year for the children’s book industry in Brazil, since Brazil will be sponsoring the annual International Day for Celebration of Children’s Books, founded by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Brazilian author, Luciana Sandroni, has been commissioned to write a children’s book specifically for the occasion. As the children’s book scene in Brazil is abounding, we are left wondering why so few of these books make their way to the United States? With these additional posts we hope to bring you diverse, underrepresented books, broaden the horizons of children’s literature in the United States and simply share with you these lovely works.

brazil-6The first book is called A Lua Cheia de Vento, written by Mel Adun and illustrated by Reane Lisboa, and the second one is called Maju, A Princesa do Tempo, written by Aciomar de Oliviera and illustrated by Carmen Munhoz.

A Lua Cheia do Vento focuses on a young, female protagonist, and the romance that develops between two young characters from different parts of the land. At first, the young girl is scared of the boy who comes to drink water from the lake that she calls home, since she never leaves the lake and never meets strangers; but she soon becomes enamored by him. The story continues, with a few plot twists—primarily, the disapproving looks of the fish and other inhabitants of the land—into an endearing love story. At the end of the story, the young boy, Ventania, who is actually the prince of wind, sweeps the young girl, Gotinha, up in a strong gust and flies with her through the nighttime stars. This is how Gotinha becomes the moon and together she and the prince of wind can escape the judging gazes of earth’s inhabitants and live together in the sky. Finally, we learn how the moon became full of wind, as the title reads in Portuguese, “A Lua Cheio de Vento.” This phrase also has a double meaning: either the moon is full of wind, or the moon is full because of the wind. In either sense, this imagery illustrates how the two are lovingly intertwined, and how the moon is in her most complete form when she is with the wind.

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Maju, a Princesa do Tempo is a lovely story about a young princess with “robes the color of the moon and tinged the color of the sun, with her fairy voice and her skin the color of passionate night” (for the record, these are my own translations). The princess controls the weather and alerts the sun when to rise and when to set. The gorgeous watercolor illustrations take us through various, fantastical landscapes, where Maju greets the sky and the ocean, “a marvelous day for everyone!” Whenever the wind starts to blow strong gusts of wind, Maju warns all the people to protect them from the wind’s strength. This beautiful story and its equally beautiful illustrations place a female protagonist in a position of agency and power, and, although young, she is a goddess of the land, and an equalizing force amongst nature’s volatile whims.

Both of these books are stunning and certainly worth a gander. I hope you’ve enjoyed this extra post– stay tuned for many more to come!

¡Hasta pronto!

Alice

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¡Mira, Look!: Tales our Abuelitas Told

abuelita“Aunque ensile el pensamiento,/libre amor, nadie lo alcanza./ Even if someone were to saddle thought,/ Nothing can restrain love’s freedom” – Antonio Machado, “Canción a Guiomar III”

Saludos todos! We are concluding our September ¡Mira, Look! posts with another great book that highlights Hispanic heritage and the beauty of shared tradition. Tales our Abuelitas Told, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, and illustrated by Felipe Davalos, Vivi Escrive, Susan Guevara, and Legla Torres, is a lovely compilation of Hispanic folktales whose origins span the globe. Given the length and detail of the stories, this book is best for more advanced readers; however, if children are being read to, all ages could enjoy these beautiful tales.

tales-1The book begins with a “Welcome” section, where Campoy and Ada introduce not only their objective in creating such a collection, but also the general history and development of many of these tales, starting in Europe, with Arabic and Jewish influence, and moving to Latin America, fusing with African heritage. While providing an extensive and impressive history of folklore throughout the Iberian peninsula and then the Western hemisphere, Campoy and Ada remind readers of the ultimate beauty and importance of story-telling: “Through stories people share their dreams, their hopes, and the lessons they learn from life, and also their celebration of the imagination and the ingenuity of a well-told tale.”

tales-2The introduction provides an excellent, synthesized overview of the historical context of these stories, which in itself could lead to a variety of lessons on history and geography. From the European relations between the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians, the invasion in Spain of the Visigoths, and the Arabic influence in southern Spain, to the onset of colonization in 1492, the indigenous civilizations of the Americas and their “magnificent civilizations,” and the slave trade, the introduction provides a detailed account of the history of these folktales. In particular, the authors discuss the influence of African culture in the Americas:

The enslaved African people, who were brought to the Americas, came without material possessions. Still, they carried with them their experiences, their knowledge, their cultural beliefs and worldviews, their languages and their stories. Some of the best-known and most-beloved stories told in Latin America today originated in Africa or among the African people forced into slavery.

tales-3This collection is rich with historical context and cultural heritage, weaving in thoughts, sentiments, stories and dreams of peoples from all over the globe, who spent their lives in Latin America. Imbued in the telling and retellings of Ada and Campoy is a love and awe for the power of storytelling and the resounding tragedy, mirth, and beauty of the past.

Yhe authors’ “Welcome” section also introduces the format for their rich and highly informative collection: “After each story we tell you a little about its origin—and in some cases about our relationship with the story—so that you may learn a bit more about the people who created that tale and the long journey it has traveled to reach you.”

tales-4One particular folktale, “Blancaflor,” tells the story of a young prince whose father, the king, has fallen terribly ill. In exchange for his father’s health, the prince makes a deal with spirit, that in three years’ time, he must go to the Three Silver Towers in the Land of No Return. Once the king has regained his health, he insists that his son must marry, so that he can live to see his grandchildren. However his son denies every proposition, and, right before three years have gone by, starts making his way towards the Land of No Return. Although the Land of No Return is a bleak and barren place, the prince meets a young girl by the name of Blancaflor. Here, the story takes an uplifting turn, and readers will delight in Blancaflor’s cunning and charm, and the ensuing tale of young love: “And this is the story of Blancaflor. It began with threads of silver and ended with threads of gold, all woven for you in the story I told.”

Some of you may remember the name of the folktale from a book review I did last year on Fiesta Feminina, another collection of folktales that focuses specifically on tales with female protagonists, including the tale of Blancaflor. As acknowledged by Alma flor Ada, who wrote the note “About ‘Blancaflor’” at the end of the story, this is a popular tale which originated in Spain and which has had many renditions  told and heard throughout the years: “In that same spirit, I have taken a few liberties myself.

tales-5At the beginning of the book, following the introduction, the authors have also included a page on “To Begin a Story,” where they provide Spanish phrases and their English translations: “To gain their full attention, the storyteller begins with a phrase that seizes listeners’ imaginations.” Readers learning Spanish or English as a second language will benefit from these translations, and more advanced readers could even use them in an exercise on writing and storytelling.  From “había una vez…/Once upon a time…” to “Para saber y contar y contar para aprender…/To know in order to tell and tell in order to know…”, students could practice using these opening lines to start and create their own stories. To deepen the exercise, teachers could also have students focus their original tale on childhood memories, family history and culture, or other such markers of heritage. At the back of the book, the authors have included a page on “To End a Story,” where again they provide readers (and educators) with a list of Spanish and English phrases useful for wrapping up a tale “…y colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado/…and, my many-colored feathered friend, now the story has found an end.” Just as Ada and Campoy have drawn from cultural heritage to exercise their own creativity, students of all ages could do the same.

For more information about the author and illustrator, here are some additional links:

For more ideas on how to use this book in the classroom, here are some additional links:

Stay tuned for an introduction to October’s themes and some more great reads!

¡Hasta pronto!

Alice


Images modified from: Tales our Abuelitas Told, pages 8, 13, 22, 36, 50

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September 23rd | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! The materials for this Week in Review are focused on the need for diverse books in children’s literature. Enjoy!

– Out of the page Reading While White, KT Horning shared what happens When Whiteness Dominates Reviews and asks the questions, “Why is it that Whiteness continues to dominate professional reviews? And what can be done to change that?”

– Professor Sarah Park (a faculty person in the Library and Information Science department at St. Catherine University) discusses the importance of diversity with her post on “Picture This: Reflecting Diversity in Children’s Book Publishing.”

— Also, on the page Mother Jones, Dashka Slater reveals The Uncomfortable Truth About Children’s Books. This is a huge and important issue as, “80% of children’s book world – authors, illustrators, editors, execs, marketers, and reviewers are white,” expresses Slater.

–Here is a question to think about. “How Many Central American of Note can you Name?” According to Teaching for Change, there are more than four million Central Americans in the US, yet most schools lack resources to teach about Central American heritage. This new website from Teaching for Change addresses that disparity!

— Lastly, here are 5 Books to Help You Raise a Globally Minded Child, shared by Lee & Low Books on their Facebook page.

 


Image: Open book. Reprinted from Flickr user Γιάννης Ηλίας under CC ©.

Guía del educador: El soñador

¡Saludos a todos! Estoy muy emocionada por tener la oportunidad de trabajar para ustedes este año. Para aquellos que no me conocen, me llamo Valeria y trabajo para el Institutio Latinoamericano e Ibérico (LAII) en la Universidad de Nuevo México. Este año me voy a enfocar en las traducciones de los Guías del educador (Educator’s Guides) para algunos de los libros bilingües más solicitados por ustedes. El propósito de mi participación en este blog es facilitar el uso de estos libros en el salón de clase, ¡y espero que las traducciones les sean útiles!

El-SonadorEsta semana, les presento la Guía del educador para el libro El soñador por Pam Muñoz Ryan. Pueden encontrar esta guía en la página Educator’s Guides junto con la versión en inglés. Sin embargo, el link directo está aquí.

Ojalá les guste esta guía, y busquen mi próximo mensaje que anunciará la próxima traducción!

~~~~~~~~~

Hello everyone! I am very excited for the opportunity to work for you this year. For those of you who don’t already know me, my name is Valeria and I work with the LAII at the University of New Mexico. This year I am focusing on translating some of the most requested Educator’s Guides into Spanish. The purpose of my participation in this blog is to facilitate the use of these books in the classroom, and I hope these translations are helpful to you!

This week, I present the Educator’s Guide for The Dreamer/El soñador by Pam Muñoz Ryan. You can find access to the Spanish-language version of both the page and the PDF of the Educator’s Guide in the Educator’s Guides page. The direct link to the page for El soñador can also be found here.

I hope you like and benefit from this translation, and keep an eye out for my next blog post announcing the latest translation!

Con cariño,

Valeria

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En la Clase: A Perfect Season for Dreaming/Un Tiempo Perfecto Para Soñar

PerfectSeasonforDreaming_cover_72dpiIt’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Benjamin Alire Sáenz at Vamos a Leer.  We love his poetry, adult fiction, young adult novels, and children’s literature.  As we continue to highlight resources and literature that present nuanced interpretations of Latinx identity, this week’s En la Clase is all about Sáenz’s bilingual children’s book A Perfect Season for Dreaming/Un Tiempo Perfecto Para Soñar

Cinco Puntos Press offers the following description of the book: “An old man tells his granddaughter about the nine most beautiful dreams of his lifetime.  So, what exactly is the perfect season for dreaming? For Octavio Rivera, it’s summer, when the sky is so blue and a few lovely clouds come floating along to decorate it. It turns out that Octavio Rivera is a beautiful dreamer. And on these first long days of summer, he is visited by some very interesting dreams. But Octavio doesn’t tell anyone about his dreams, not after the first one, not after the second, not after the next or the next or the next. Finally, though, he can’t stand it anymore and he wants to tell someone so bad that his heart hurts. He decides that the only one he can trust with his dreams, the only one who won’t make fun of him for being too old or eating too much chorizo, the only one who will understand is his young granddaughter Regina because she also has beautiful and fantastic dreams.  And that sets Octavio Rivera free to enjoy one last long and lovely dream.”

At a glance, it may seem like a simple counting book, but it’s so much more, making it appropriate even for children who are long past learning their numbers.  This is a book that is not only beautifully written and illustrated, but provides authentic, engaging, culturally relevant content as well.

Culturally relevant pedagogy (also referred to as culturally responsive teaching or multicultural education) has quickly become one of A Perfect Season for Dreaming | Benjamin Alire Saenzthe new buzz terms in education over the past decade.  Many cite Gloria Ladson Billings as the scholar who brought the concept to the forefront of educational conversation and research.  For Ladson Billings, one of the key pieces to culturally relevant pedagogy is that it “empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (The Dreamkeepers).  Woven throughout Octavio Rivera’s dreams are cultural referents that will speak to many Latinx, Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, and Hispanic children.  Many will recognize the Spanish guitars, blooming desert cacti, armadillos, and marachi singers as familiar cultural references.  Children from the Southwest will delight in seeing some of their own hometowns mentioned in the story, as Denver, El Paso, Júarez, Lubbock, and Tucson all make appearances in the text.  Esau Andrade Valencia’s illustrations bring the surrealistic dreams to life, offering authentic colorful desert landscapes.  For students who aren’t familiar with any of this, the reading allows them to experience and learn about something new in a way that doesn’t perpetuate damaging cultural stereotypes.

Discussion Suggestions:

While young readers will certainly appreciate the structure and rhythm of the counting book, the simple text provides the opportunity to discuss so much more.  One of the more special elements of the story is Octavio’s relationship with his six-year-old granddaughter.  She is the only one he trusts to share his dreams with.  Their relationship provides the opportunity to introduce students to issues of ageism and breakdown many of the labels and stereotypes applied to the very old or the very young.  Ask students to think about the kinds of stereotypes we have about people who are older or younger. What words or pictures do they associate with those who are very old or very young? Then, ask them if they have a friend who is much older or younger. Does this person fit these stereotypes? What is their relationship like with that person? Ask them to think about why Octavio only chooses to share his dreams with his granddaughter.  Have them imagine that they have an older friend like Octavio.  What kinds of things could they share with that friend that they might not be able to share with someone their own age? Discuss these ideas as a class.

A Perfect Season for Dreaming | Benjamin Alire Saenz

Activity Suggestions:

When asked about the book, Sáenz wrote, “As a boy, I always hoped that when we broke the piñata at a party, that all sorts of beautiful things would come flying out.  Nothing ever came out but candy.  I suppose I wrote this book to set the world right.”  The fantastical, surreal, and magical nature of the book makes it perfect for the beginning of the year.  Often times the first month or two of the school year is focused on the teaching and establishing of routines, procedures, and expectations.  While necessary, all of this does little to encourage or build creativity.  A book like this offers a counterbalance.  It offers a celebration of the power of dreaming, something we don’t often talk about in our classrooms.  It’s also a chance for students to tap into their imaginations and practice a little inspired inventiveness.  Use the book’s text and imagery as a model.  Copying the dreaming premise of the book, ask students to create a counting book using their own cultural referents blended together with other fantastical elements.  If time is short, assign each student one number and have them create a page just for that number.  Then, combine each student’s page to create a class counting book.  If possible, have them visit a younger class and read their book to that class.

We’re not alone in thinking this is a wonderful book.  It has received a number of awards and honors, including the Kids’ Indie Next List (Winter 2008-09); Tejas Star Book Award; Paterson Prize; Best Book for Children; Texas Institute of Letters (TIL); Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year (2009); and Américas Book Award Honor Book (2009).

As always, if you’ve used the book with your students, we’d love to hear about it.  If your students make their own counting books, we’d love to see their creations! Just post a picture in the comments below.  Children’s art and writing is one of my most favorite things to see!

Until next week,

Katrina

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