¡Mira, Look! Sylvia and Aki

Continuing our theme of Américas Award winners, here’s another one that was a Commended Title this year: Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling (Tricycle Press, 2011; Gr. 3-6). In addition to the Américas Award, this slim novel also took the 2012 Jane Addams Children’s Literature Award for Older Readers, the 2012 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and was a selection of the CCBC Choices 2012 (Cooperative Children’s Book Center). Kirkus Reviews called it “A well-documented, quietly powerful story.”

Sylvia and Aki is “the remarkable story based on true events of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu, two ordinary girls living in extraordinary times. When Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to register at the same school Aki attended – instead, they are sent to a “Mexican school” – the stage is set for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. Ultimately, Mendez vs. Westminster School District led to the desegregation of California schools and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally.”

If you want to read more about it, visit Winifred Conkling’s website, where you can even see old black and white photos of the people upon whom the characters are based – a serious dose of realism for a book whose cover illustration softens the truth behind the story.

Check it out!  Let us know what you think.  Would you use it in your classroom?

3 thoughts on “¡Mira, Look! Sylvia and Aki

  1. Pingback: ¡Mira Look!: Books for Teaching Civil Rights | Vamos a Leer

  2. My name is Jessica Perez and I am currently in my student teaching semester at The University of Texas. I absolutely love this book and I am about to start reading this with my fourth grade class. I believe that Winifred Conkling did a beautiful job writing this story, and I have seen it create meaningful and authentic discussions in the classroom.

    • Hey, Jessica! It’s rare to have a book generate the kinds of conversations that we’re hoping for. I’m glad to hear that Conkling’s book actually has done that in your experience and that you’re planning to read it with your students. It’d be great if you can pop back over and let us know what they think when you’re done!

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