Hello everyone!! I hope your year is off to a wonderful start! I’ve missed you all at Vamos a Leer and I’m so excited to be back! I finally finished my PhD over the summer and I’m back in the classroom teaching. After six years away, it’s taken me awhile to get my teaching legs back under me, but I think I’ve (sort of) got things under control now. I’m hoping to contribute here far more regularly again, along with Alin, Santiago, and Kalyn, the wonderful bloggers who’ve kept us going over the last year.
As you all know, as a project supported by the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute, our focus here at Vamos a Leer is on sharing books and resources to help encourage a broader engagement with Latin America in classrooms. At the same time, we’re always striving to encourage a greater depth in multicultural content across all area studies. As a teacher myself, I’ve found that one of the greatest challenges in implementing curriculum that reflects the diversity of our world is simply in finding books and resources. With this in mind, we’ll be starting a new thematic series of posts on “Reading Recomendaciones” that highlight various reading lists, thematic book compilations, or curated book suggestions from around the web. Many of these lists will include suggestions that go beyond just Latin American or Latinx themes, so we will highlight those books that are specific to our blog focus.
One of the first resources I want to share is Mind/Shift’s 20 Books Featuring Diverse Characters to Inspire Connection and Empathy based on a list of recommended titles created by the San Francisco Public Library. The list was first shared in 2016, but many of the books are just now gaining the popularity they deserve, making them more readily accessible on bookstore and library shelves. I was really excited to see some of our favorite authors like Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Duncan Tonatiuh, Tracey Baptiste, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Edwidge Danticat on the list. For those of you not familiar with Baptiste, her book The Jumbies came out in 2016, and she just recently released the sequel, The Rise of the Jumbies. One of my third graders read The Jumbies earlier this year and is anxiously awaiting the sequel I ordered for her out of our most recent Scholastic book order. I’ll let you know what she thinks of it.
Another amazing resource is Gathering Books’ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Bookshelf —a collection of multicultural/international picture book text-sets across the five SEL competencies. This is quite an undertaking! Understandably, they are adding one competency at a time. Currently, both the Self-Awareness and Self-Management sections are available. I’ve added so many books to my classroom wish list as a result of this resource!
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to recommend that we all spend some time thinking about Angie Manfredi’s blog post “The Message of Your All White Booklist.” She makes some significant observations about access to diverse books even as the “We Need Diverse Books” movement gains more and more traction. A New Mexico librarian, Manfredi’s discussion of the New Mexico Battle of the Books list hit close to home for me. I also think her blog post offers a useful framework from which to move forward in our “Reading Recommendations.”
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share in the comments below. I’m really looking forward to being a regular around here again!
Until next week!