I’m here to wrap up our September focus on “Resources to Honor and Understand Latin American Influences,” and introduce you to the themes we’ll be tackling in October: Día de los Muertos, remembering, and celebrating.
Before I talk about our upcoming month, I have to acknowledge that we’re still smack dab in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), and here at Vamos a Leer remain caught in a love-hate relationship with it. Even while HHM promotes the discussion about Latin@/Hispanic culture, it minimizes the conversation to stereotypes and relegates the information to one month out of the year, effectively communicating to students that Latin@/Hispanic heritage offers a “break” from the real curriculum; it’s apart from authenticate knowledge. There are many, many reasons why this is problematic. Katrina has discussed some of them on the blog, joining other educators such as Enid Lee and Deborah Menkart who advocate for a “beyond heroes and holidays” approach to education. In short, she’s advocated for a classroom where discussions of other cultures are not limited to one month out of the year, but instead are integrated meaningfully throughout the curriculum.
But we’re not suggesting dismissing HHM completely. Instead, much like readers who responded to a recent poll on “How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us” organized by LatinoUSA, we suggest that HHM is “what you make of it.” Let’s use this an opportunity to start (or better, continue!) meaningful conversations about Latin@/Hispanic heritage, but conversations unfettered by the arbitrary dates of Sept. 15 – Oct. 15. This goal is one we emphasize throughout the entire blog. We do so by drawing attention to resources that are relevant and engaging to students across grade levels and subject areas. Over the next month, that effort translates into content that celebrates and acknowledges the personal histories of our families and communities. For inspiration, we’ll draw on the upcoming Día de los Muertos, a time in which many Latin American/Latin@/Hispanic people pause to remember and celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Even as we look at death through that positive lens, we’ll also look at another form of death and memory by examining the myths and traditions associated with La Llorona — a woman whom history has much maligned and appropriated. As a disclaimer, let us emphasize that we are not conflating the two; Día de los Muertos and La Llorona are linked here only because they both present an opportunity to look at story, history, and memory among families and within communities.
Our Vamos a Leer writers (including our newest contributor, Logan, whom we welcome this week!) will tackle these topics in the following ways:
- Alice, our children’s book reviewer, will focus on books that explore Día de los Muertos and La Llorona in unique and memorable ways;
- Charla, the writer behind WWW, will offer ideas for understanding Día de los Muertos in the context of oral histories and storytelling (and the Monarch butterflies’ migration!);
- Kalyn, author of our recently launched “Reading Roundup” initiative, will highlight outstanding children’s books about Día de los Muertos;
- Katrina, the educator behind En la Clase, will contribute to the conversation with apropos curricular resources; and
- Logan, our newest blogger, will be chiming in with information on our next featured book, Enrique’s Journey, an epic and unforgettable non-fiction account of family and community.
Let us know, too, if you have ideas for topics for future months. Vamos a Leer was created to serve you, so help us out by giving us suggestions for how we can best support your needs as multicultural educators and readers!
Image: Photograph of Día de los Muertos altar. Reprinted from Andrew Rollinger under CC ©.