As many of you know, our featured book for this month is Estrella’s Quinceañera by Malín Alegría. As I was reading Alegría’s book and doing the research for our Educator’s Guide, I realized I’d never really thought much about quinceañeras, even though they’re an important cultural celebration for many. While we’ve written a great deal here on the blog about other cultural traditions or celebrations and how to teach about them in the classroom, we seem to have neglected this one!
I’ll be honest, before doing the research for our resources on Estrella’s Quinceañera, I had no idea how much had actually been written about quinceañeras–including both fiction and non-fiction. Jessica DeLeón at The Hispanic Reader put together an excellent post “When you’re fifteen. . .:A look at quinceañeras in literature” that discusses a number of great books with quinceañeras as their focal point. She includes a number of books that are already on my TBR list for this year like The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales and Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa. She also mentions Julia Alvarez’s non-fiction book Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA. Definitely check out her post for some great reads and resources! Any of them could be used as additional reading and research to support a class project or just the individual interests of your students.
I also found two different lesson plans for teaching about quinceañeras:
- Annette Roberts created a lesson that compares the quinceañera celebrated in selected Spanish speaking countries, and the coming of age party celebrated in the U.S.A (sweet 16). Students will compare and contrast this social event and will make connections with history and geography via this lesson. While this lesson is based on a reading selection not included in the plans, it could easily be adapted using any of the resources discussed above from The Hispanic Reader’s post.
- Here you’ll find a quinceañera project created for a Spanish I class (though it could be easily adapted for a different class). The project includes resources to guide students, easy to follow steps, and a rubric for grading.
I hope you find this helpful!! As popular as some of the fiction books on quinceañeras seem to be, I think students could really enjoy a unit that covered this celebration and tradition. If you decide to use any of the books or lesson plans let us know what your students thought!
Be sure to check out both our book review of Estrella’s Quinceañera and our Educator’s Guide for using it in the classroom–coming this Thursday!!