Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight

By: Duncan Tonatiuh

Published by: Abrams Comicarts (New York)

Age: 9-12

Region: United States

Language: English

Who? What? Where? Why?

The picture book is about a young person named Juan, who comes to the United States from his small town in Mexico, to help support his family. Staying with his tío and other men who migrated to the United States Juan gets a job at restaurant working twelve hours a day, seven days a week for less than minimum wage. Until the day that co-worker and him discuss the unfairness of their pay for the work they do. Juan becomes involved in a Workers Right center and starts to organize his co-workers, after several months of organizing they are finally able to take legal action to challenge their bosses exploitation. Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight, is wonderfully illustrated, read from front to back, and then back to front in an accordion style layout, it is a must read and would be a wonderful addition to any educator’s classroom.

Amazon.com: Undocumented: A Worker's Fight: 9781419728549: Tonatiuh,  Duncan: Books

Principle Themes

Undocumented, a central theme of the book is Juan’s undocumented status and how it impacts his job security and the types of recourse at his disposal that won’t jeopardize his life in the United States. Despite the hurdles that Juan faces he challenges the labor violations his boss has been capitalizing on and asserts his rights to a fair wage. Workers’ rights, as we have seen in other texts, workers’ rights continues to play an important role in the fight for equity and justice. Collective Action, lastly, collective action is a tenet principle of the book. Juan believes that workers’ rights is based in collective action, and that the commonality of facing the same hardships and the fight for fair labor practices is what unites people in this struggle. Furthermore when Juan’s boss tries to pay him off Juan declines because he recognizes this struggle is not only about him it’s also about everyone else at the restaurant who aren’t being paid their fair wages.

Discussion Questions

What is the message of this book?

What hardships do Juan his co-workers face as they try to organize for better wages?

How does documentation status intersect with labor rights?

How do fair wages and labor protections impact workers?

Educator Questions we would love to hear your feedback in the comments section!

Do you have a book like this in your classroom already? If not why not? What other texts could you supplement with Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight?

How do you teach the intersection of labor rights and documentation status in your classroom?

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