Well, it’s that time already! It’s time for Thanksgiving, and while we here at Vamos a Leer encourage people to take a step back from traditional notions of this holiday that promote stereotypes, we do acknowledge that this holiday does represent family time. In keeping with this tradition, this week I would like to share with you a book about what happens when family comes for a visit and they are different than us–or so we think.
This week, we will be looking at Alma Flor Ada’s Dancing Home. In this book, which is most appropriate for students in grades three to six, ten year old Margie is ecstatic to learn that her cousin, Lupe, will be coming from Mexico to join their family in Texas. However, once Lupe (who doesn’t speak English) joins Margie in her class, Margie becomes embarrassed by her cousin. Margie has worked hard to fit in with her classmates and to be an American, but by default Lupe’s arrival reminds people of Margie’s Mexican roots. While one girl tries to shake the image of what it means to be Mexican, the other tries to adjust to life in the United States.
At its core, this book is about two young ladies who are struggling with their identity. Most of our students face this same crisis daily. Everyone wants to fit in, but we are all different. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to recognize that these differences are not drawbacks; rather, they are what make us all unique. Furthermore, Ada describes the immigrant struggle that some youngsters face. Many of our students struggle with cultural identity because they try to distance themselves from their heritage like Margie. However, it is not about being like everyone else that is important. What is important is being comfortable with yourself and who you are. What’s wrong with being Mexican? American? Mexican-American? Nothing at all! Though this is not the message that some youngsters receive as they try to adjust to a new life or watch family members face this struggle. Moreover, her message on family is quite clear as well. It is important to recognize our family structure, like our cultural identity, for what it is, and not be embarrassed by it. We should embrace it.
I hope you will take some time to review Dancing Home. It is a great read and has a good message for the season! Have a nice holiday.
Until next time,