Santiago’s Road Home / La Travesía de Santiago

By: Alexandra Diaz

Published by: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Age: YA

Region: Mexico and USA

Main Themes: immigration, family, community, detention centers, overcoming adversity, US immigration policy

Temas principales: inmigración, familia, comunidad, centros de detención, superación de la adversidad, política de inmigración de EE.UU.

Alexandra Diaz brings us another impactful story about immigration to the United States from Latin America. Diaz’s story follows the journey of Santiago Garcia Reyes, an orphaned teen whose family mistreats him and continues to sluff him off to other relatives until he runs out of options. When his aunt Tía Roberta kicks him out and demands he return to his abuela’s, Santiago decides he would rather fend for himself than suffer under the roof at La Malvada’s. After a few days of sleeping in abandoned houses and scrounging around for food, Santi runs into a mother and her daughter outside of a food truck. The connection is immediate between Santiago and María and becomes even deeper with María’s daughter Alegría. Once Santiago learns of their plan to travel north and cross the border to the United States, he is determined to accompany them on their journey and prove he is a worthy companion.

The trio sets off together becoming family along the way. Their bond only strengthens as they face several hardships throughout their path north. Once they cross the border, María is close to death and Santi and Alegría are sent to a detention center in New Mexico, separated once they arrive. Santiago struggles in the detention center as he feels abandoned yet again and he is treated like a criminal with no rights or comforts while under custody. He finds solace in the teacher and the lunch lady at the detention facility, making connections that give him strength in the unlikeliest places. While Santi lives for months in the facility slowly deflating each day, María is working hard to get him released and reunited with his surrogate family. Even if Santi had given up hope for a better future, those whose lives he touched never give up on him.

Santiago’s Road Home offers us yet another account of the realities of life in Mexico for many children, teenagers, and young adults. We understand the motivations to seek a better life in the United States. What is unique about this book in particular is the setting. Many of the stories I have read about immigration center on the before and after of crossing the border. Alexandra Diaz on the other hand, illustrates life in the detention centers where minors are held contrary to the United Nations standards on detention duration and treatment of those held at such facilities. While this story is a work of fiction it does reflect the realities of detention centers and gives the reader a sense of what the people held there think, feel, and how they are treated. This would be a great book for middle school to high school students. The back matter of the book includes a comprehensive list of discussion question, a glossary, references, and a list of books for further reading.

Alexandra Diaz nos trae otra impactante historia sobre la inmigración a Estados Unidos desde América Latina. La historia de Díaz sigue el viaje de Santiago García Reyes, un adolescente huérfano cuya familia lo maltrata y continúa vendiéndolo a otros parientes hasta que se queda sin opciones. Cuando su tía Tía Roberta le echa de casa y le exige que vuelva con su abuela, Santiago decide que prefiere valerse por sí mismo que sufrir bajo el techo de La Malvada. Tras unos días durmiendo en casas abandonadas y buscando comida, Santiago se encuentra con una madre y su hija en la puerta de un camión de comida. La conexión es inmediata entre Santiago y María y se hace aún más profunda con Alegría, la hija de María. Una vez que Santiago se entera de su plan de viajar al norte y cruzar la frontera con Estados Unidos, está decidido a acompañarlas en su viaje y demostrar que es un compañero digno.

El trío emprende el viaje convirtiéndose en familia. Su vínculo se fortalece a medida que se enfrentan a diversas dificultades en su camino hacia el norte. Una vez que cruzan la frontera, María está al borde de la muerte y Santi y Alegría son enviados a un centro de detención en Nuevo México, donde son separados una vez que llegan. Santiago lucha en el centro de detención al sentirse abandonado una vez más y es tratado como un criminal sin derechos ni comodidades mientras está bajo custodia. Encuentra consuelo en la maestra y en la señora del almuerzo del centro de detención, haciendo conexiones que le dan fuerza en los lugares más insospechados. Mientras Santi vive durante meses en el centro desinflándose poco a poco cada día, María trabaja duro para conseguir que lo liberen y se reúna con su familia sustituta. Aunque Santi haya perdido la esperanza de un futuro mejor, aquellos cuyas vidas tocó nunca se rinden con él.

El camino de Santiago a casa nos ofrece otro relato de las realidades de la vida en México para muchos niños, adolescentes y jóvenes. Comprendemos las motivaciones para buscar una vida mejor en Estados Unidos. Lo que hace único a este libro en particular es el escenario. Muchas de las historias que he leído sobre inmigración se centran en el antes y el después de cruzar la frontera. Alexandra Díaz, en cambio, ilustra la vida en los centros de detención donde se recluye a los menores, en contra de las normas de las Naciones Unidas sobre la duración de la detención y el trato que reciben los retenidos en tales instalaciones. Aunque esta historia es una obra de ficción, refleja la realidad de los centros de detención y da al lector una idea de lo que piensan, sienten y cómo son tratadas las personas allí retenidas. Es un libro ideal para estudiantes de secundaria y bachillerato. La contraportada del libro incluye una lista exhaustiva de preguntas para debatir, un glosario, referencias y una lista de libros de lectura complementaria.

Additional Resources:

Related Vamos a Leer Book Reviews:

Beast Rider By María Elena Fontanot de Rhoads  and Tony Johnston

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

El Viaje / The Journey by Francesca Sanna

Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh

For All / Para Todos Educator Curriculum Guide with lesson plans and activities

Publisher’s Website


The Distance Between Us

Written by/escrito por: Reyna Grande

Published by/Publicado por: Washington Square Press

Age/edad: 11-12th grade +

Region/región: Mexico/USA

Themes/Temas: immigration, family, education, marginalization, abuse, poverty, Mexican culture, coming of age / inmigración, familia, educación, marginación, abuso, pobreza, cultura mexicana, mayoría de edad

In her memoir, Reyna Grande takes us on a heartbreaking journey propped up by the hope and dreams of herself and her family. Reyna recounts her painful youth, growing up in Iguala, Mexico without her parents who both left to pursue a better life in El Otro Lado. Reyna and her siblings Mago and Carlos are left in the care of their father’s mother Abuela Evila who despised the three, physically, mentally, and emotionally abusing them under her charge. Reyna holds the photo of her father close to her heart and finds strength and hope in his image.

Years go by with hardly any communication from their parents when they are told they have a new little sister who was born in the United States. This sends the three into a pit of despair as they fear their parents love and chance of returning to them will be diminished by their baby sister Betty. Their mother eventually returns breaking the news that their father had abandoned her for another women so she had taken Betty and headed back to her mother’s house in Mexico. While the three who were left in Mexico fear their mother will love Betty more than them, there is something more heartbreaking at work. Their mother’s love seems to become increasingly more detached from her children and more centered on her romantic desires. Reyna’s siblings struggle to understand why their mother who finally returned continues to abandon them for different men in Mexico, leaving for months at a time at her children and mother’s protests. Reyna’s father returns to Mexico and decides he will bring Reyna, Mago, and Carlos to El Otro Lado with him. Finally Reyna is within reach of all she has hoped and dreamed for. The unconditional love of at least one parent, a chance at a new life in El Otro Lado, and a family unified under one roof. That hope deflates over the years of living with her father, as his alcoholism escalates and causes physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that threaten to ruin all that Reyna has worked towards in El Otro Lado. Despite all of her hardships throughout her life, Reyna achieves what no one else in her family had- she graduates from The University of California Santa Cruz with honors and embarks on a successful life as an educator and author.

The Distance Between Us is a truly impactful story of a Mexican immigrant’s journey that exposes how immigration has lasting effects on entire families. I have read several books about immigration, the journey to the US, and experiences once across the border but Reyna Grande’s memoir takes the experience to an intimate place where we are exposed to the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of a child left behind while her parents travel north. Reyna’s life in Iguala after her parents leave remind us of the complex ways in which immigration affects all those involved and how children left behind view the world and long for the reunification of their family. We are reminded that experiences of immigration and reunification engender sustained changes on family dynamics where the old ways may not ever be again. While Reyna’s story is heartbreaking, it is also a story of hope and an inspiration to everyone who has experienced hardship. Despite the abuse she suffers and the constant ways in which she tries to win the love of her parents, only to be let down, Reyna pursues her dreams and finds success, peace, and fulfillment in her life. She develops an admirable ability to understand the people who hurt her from a holistic perspective that is grounded in empathy. I admire her for this and will definitely read more of her books.

En sus memorias, Reyna Grande nos lleva a un viaje desgarrador sostenido por la esperanza y los sueños de ella y su familia. Reyna relata su dolorosa juventud, creciendo en Iguala, México, sin sus padres, que se marcharon para buscar una vida mejor en el Otro Lado. Reyna y sus hermanos Mago y Carlos quedaron al cuidado de la madre de su padre, Abuela Evila, que despreció a los tres, abusando física, mental y emocionalmente de ellos bajo su cargo. Reyna guarda la foto de su padre cerca de su corazón y encuentra fuerza y esperanza en su imagen. Pasan años sin apenas comunicación con sus padres cuando les dicen que tienen una nueva hermanita nacida en Estados Unidos. Esto hace que los tres entren en un pozo de desesperación, ya que temen que el amor de sus padres y la posibilidad de volver con ellos se vea disminuida por su hermanita Betty. Su madre finalmente regresa dándoles la noticia de que su padre la había abandonado por otra mujer por lo que había tomado a Betty y se dirigió a la casa de su madre en México. Aunque los tres que se quedaron en México temen que su madre ame a Betty más que a ellos, hay algo más desgarrador en juego. El amor de su madre parece alejarse cada vez más de sus hijos y centrarse más en sus deseos románticos. Los hermanos de Reyna luchan por entender por qué su madre, que finalmente regresó, sigue abandonándolos por diferentes hombres en México, marchándose durante meses ante las protestas de sus hijos y de su madre. El padre de Reyna regresa a México y decide que llevará a Reyna, Mago y Carlos a El Otro Lado con él. Por fin Reyna está al alcance de todo lo que ha esperado y soñado. El amor incondicional de al menos uno de sus padres, la oportunidad de una nueva vida en El Otro Lado y una familia unida bajo un mismo techo. Esa esperanza se desinfla a lo largo de los años de convivencia con su padre, ya que el alcoholismo de éste va en aumento y provoca abusos físicos, emocionales y verbales que amenazan con arruinar todo lo que Reyna ha conseguido en El Otro Lado. A pesar de todas las dificultades a lo largo de su vida, Reyna logra lo que nadie más en su familia había logrado: se gradúa en la Universidad de California Santa Cruz con honores y se embarca en una vida exitosa como educadora y autora.

La distancia entre nosotros es una historia verdaderamente impactante del viaje de una inmigrante mexicana que expone cómo la inmigración tiene efectos duraderos en familias enteras. He leído varios libros sobre la inmigración, el viaje a los EE.UU. y las experiencias una vez cruzada la frontera, pero las memorias de Reyna Grande llevan la experiencia a un lugar íntimo en el que se nos exponen los sentimientos, pensamientos y emociones de una niña que se queda atrás mientras sus padres viajan al norte. La vida de Reyna en Iguala después de la partida de sus padres nos recuerda las complejas formas en que la inmigración afecta a todos los implicados y cómo los niños que se quedan atrás ven el mundo y anhelan la reunificación de su familia. Se nos recuerda que las experiencias de inmigración y reunificación engendran cambios sostenidos en la dinámica familiar, donde las viejas costumbres pueden no volver a serlo. Aunque la historia de Reyna es desgarradora, también es una historia de esperanza y una inspiración para todos los que han experimentado dificultades. A pesar de los abusos que sufre y de los constantes intentos de ganarse el amor de sus padres, sólo para ser defraudada, Reyna persigue sus sueños y encuentra el éxito, la paz y la plenitud en su vida. Desarrolla una admirable capacidad para comprender a las personas que la hieren desde una perspectiva holística basada en la empatía. La admiro por esto y definitivamente leeré más libros suyos.

Additional Resources/Recursos adicionales:

Reyna Grande’s website:

Related books + reviews: Undocumented: A Workers Fight and Beast Rider

Related books + lesson plans/classroom activities: Para Todos/For All

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide

Written by: Isabel Quintero

Illustrated by: Zeke Peña

Language: English

Age: YA

Region: Mexico

Published by: The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles

Isbale Quintero and Zeke Pena bring the life of Graciela Iturbide, one of the most celebrated Mexican photographers, to life in this splendid graphic novel for young adults. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read as we are taken along Iturbide’s journey as she discovers herself through the photographs she takes of the world around her.

We peak into the lives of Mexican American cholos and cholas from East Los Angeles who strived to carve out an American life for themselves while holding their Mexican heritage as a badge of honor and resistance. We travel with Iturbide to Juchitán in the state of Oaxaca were “womanhood is not weakness;- it is unapologetic,” and gender is not binary but maintains the fluidity forever present in the region. She worked in India where the thesis of her project was to find connections between India and Mexico. It was there she questioned, “do we force our vision to find likeness, Reader, because we fear difference?” She photographs people but also things.

“Human subjects tell a biased version of who they are. But objects have a different perspective. They ask me to use my imagination, to listen as they tell their stories.”

This biography is original and exciting. The graphic novel presentation of Iturbide’s life pulls the reader into her life, we are with her, we see what she sees, we can relate.

While we get a glimpse into an artist’s life, we also learn about Mexican, Mexican American, Indigenous, Indian, and American culture through her experiences with the people and places of those areas where she pieced herself together with every new connection and photograph she took. Photographic: The life of Graciela Iturbide is an inspirational story for any young adult, or adult for that matter. A wonderful reminder to pursue our dreams and find ourselves in the world around us.

Additional Resources:

Zeke Peña’s Website (illustrator)

Isabel Quintero’s Blog (author)

Graciela Iturbide’s Website

Getty’s Website (Publisher)

Be Bold! Be Brave! ¡Sé audaz! ¡Sé valiente!

Written by/escrito por: Naibe Reynoso

Illustrated by/ilustrado por: Jone Leal

Ages/edades: 5-10

Region/Región: USA

Text and illustration copyright/ Derechos de autor del texto y la ilustración

2019 Con Todo Press

Language/idioma: Bilingual: Spanish and English

Author Naibe Reynoso brings the inspiring biographies of 11 Latinas who contributed to US history to life for readers in both English and Spanish. Each of her short biographies are fun to read as they flow rhythmically bringing Selena, Ellen Ochoa, Maria Hinojosa, and many others to life. The last biography of the book is a space for the reader. Reynoso encourages readers to look in the mirror and imagine all the possibilities. Think about the change you want to see and be bold and brave in your journey to achieve them.

Naibe Reynoso is a journalist with over 20 years of experience in her field. She has always been dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of her community. While raising her own children, she noticed the lack of books that featured Latinxs who have contributed to US history. Be Bold! Be Brave! is her way of changing that so young readers see themselves represented in books and see all the potential there is for everyone to pursue their dreams.

La autora Naibe Reynoso da vida a las inspiradoras biografías de 11 latinas que contribuyeron a la historia de los Estados Unidos para los lectores tanto en inglés como en español. Cada una de sus biografías cortas es divertida de leer, ya que fluyen rítmicamente dando vida a Selena, Ellen Ochoa, María Hinojosa y muchas otras. La última biografía del libro es un espacio para el lector. Reynoso anima a los lectores a mirarse en el espejo e imaginar todas las posibilidades. Piensa en el cambio que quieres ver y sé audaz y valiente en tu viaje para lograrlos.

Naibe Reynoso es una periodista con más de 20 años de experiencia en su campo. Ella siempre se ha dedicado a centrar las voces y experiencias de su comunidad. Mientras criaba a sus propios hijos, notó la falta de libros que presentaran a latinos que han contribuido a la historia de los Estados Unidos. ¡Sé audaz! ¡Sé valiente! es su forma de cambiar que los lectores jóvenes se vean representados en los libros y vean todo el potencial que hay para que todos persigan sus sueños.

Additional Resources/recursos adicionales:

Con Todo Press Website

Video Read Aloud

Naibe Reynoso’s Website

LAII Latina Women in Stem Lesson Plans

Discussion Question/pregunta de discusión:

What strategies have you used to make sure students feel included and represented in course material and content?

¿Qué estrategias ha utilizado para asegurarse de que los estudiantes se sientan incluidos y representados en el material y el contenido del curso?

Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book

By: Yuyi Morales

Published by: Chronicle Books LLC

Ages: 3-5

Region: Mexico

Language: English with Spanish words

Image from Chronicle Books LLC

Señor Calavera pays Grandma Beetle a visit asking her to leave with him but in true trickster style, Grandma Beetle finds a way to divert his attention and keep him around getting her tasks down along the way. She distracts him by counting out the preparations she has to do around the house before she can leave with him. Readers are encouraged to count along as she numbers her agenda items in both Spanish and English. Grandma Beetle counts her way all the way to her birthday dinner celebration with all of her grandchildren and Señor Calavera. She is not ready to leave this world for the afterlife with Señor Calavera, instead she opts for another day with her family. This is a wonderful celebration of Mexican culture and a great way to encourage bilingualism and/or Spanish language learning.


An ALA Notable Book

Pura Belpré Award Winner

Parents’ Choice Approved Award Winner

Notable Book for a Global Society

A Latino Book Award Winner

Additional Resources:

Author’s Website

Read aloud with Yuyi Morales:

Luciano el Gusano/Luciano the Worm

Texto e ilustraciones por/written and illustrated by: Santiago González 

Edades/ages: 4-8

Idioma/language: Español

Luciano el Gusano es una historia sobre un gusano al que no le gustaba quién era. Estaba cansado de ser un gusano, así que decidió inventar una nueva realidad para sí mismo.

Comenzó a imaginarse a sí mismo como animales diferentes, pero no pudo encontrar consuelo en ninguna de las nuevas formas que adoptó. Su último intento es un alienígena que está alejado de los problemas que enfrentan los otros animales que intentó ser, pero está muy lejos del planeta tierra y de la vida que contiene. Después de su aventura de intentar ser otra cosa, Luciano decide que se siente más cómodo siendo él mismo, Luciana el gusano.

La historia de Luciano es familiar para todos. Cuando crecemos, todos pasamos por fases de querer ser alguien o algo más, imaginando que la hierba es mucho más verde en el otro lado. Luciano nos recuerda que realmente no hay lugar como el hogar, abrazándose a sí mismo por quién y qué es. Todos podríamos aprender una o dos cosas de la historia de Luciano.

This story is about a worm who did not like who he was. He was tired of being a worm so decided to invent a new reality for himself. He began to imagine himself as different animals but could not find solace in any of the new forms he adopted. His last try is an alien who is removed from the problems faced by the other animals he tried being,

but he is so far away from planet earth and the life it holds. After his adventure of trying to be something else, Luciano decides that he is most comfortable being himself, Luciana el gusano.

Luciano’s story is a familiar one to everyone. When we grow up, we all go through phases of wanting to be someone or something else, imagining the grass to be much greener on the other side. Luciano reminds us that there truly is no place like home, embracing himself for who and what he is. We could all learn a thing or two from Luciano’s story.

The Sea-Ringed World


Illustrated by: AMANDA MIJANGOS

Translated by: DAVID BOWLES

Ages: All ages

Language: available in English and Spanish

Region: The Americas

Many countries, states, cities, and people just wrapped up their celebrations of Columbus Day, commemorating the “discovery” of the Americas. As many have consistently protested the celebration of Columbus or changed their views on the holiday and what it means, a phrase has stuck with me: “Columbus didn’t discover America, he invaded it!.”

The Sea-Ringed World counters the narrative that the Americas were “discovered” by Columbus and instead offers a rich set of stories highlighting the long history of the people of the American continents who have inhabited their lands for fifteen thousand years. Further, the anthology counters the myth of mestizaje that places Indigenous people in the past, broken from the present by connecting the stories told today with their ancestral roots with an emphasis on continuity.

“Passed down through generations, these narratives created an unbroken strand of indigenous wisdom, lore that guided life and love, warfare and worship.”

The book contains tales from Hopi, Nahua, Maya, Andean, Muisca, Mapuche, Blackfoot, Ona, Taino, Guarani, Sugpiag, Sioux, Cabecar and Bribri, Huichol, Ojibwe, Wayuu and Inuit traditions with beautifully illustrated images. The back matter of the book includes a transcription of Indigenous terms, a pronunciation guide, quick guide to cultures, a map, and glossary.

Muchos países, estados, ciudades y personas acaban de concluir sus celebraciones del Día de Colón. Como muchos han protestado constantemente por la celebración de Colón o han cambiado sus puntos de vista sobre la festividad y lo que significa, una frase se ha quedado conmigo: “¡Colón no descubrió América, la invadió!”.

The Sea-Ringed World contrarresta la narrativa de que las Américas fueron “descubiertas” por Colón y, en cambio, ofrece un rico conjunto de historias que destacan la larga historia de las personas de los continentes americanos que las han habitado durante quince mil años. Además, la antología contrarresta el mito del mestizaje que sitúa a los pueblos indígenas en el pasado, roto con el presente al conectar las historias contadas hoy con sus raíces ancestrales con énfasis en la continuidad.

“Transmitidas de generación en generación, estas narrativas crearon una corriente ininterrumpida de sabiduría indígena, tradición que guió la vida y el amor, la guerra y la adoración”.

El libro contiene cuentos de hopi, nahua, maya, andino, muisca, mapuche, pie negro, ona, taíno, guaraní, sugpiag, sioux, cabecar y bribri, huichol, ojibwe, wayuu y inuit con imágenes bellamente ilustradas. La parte posterior del libro incluye una transcripción de términos indígenas, una guía de pronunciación, una guía rápida de culturas, un mapa y un glosario.

Additional Resources:

Author’s website:

Illustrator’s website:

Nahuatl Dictionary:

La Costura

Escrito por: Isol

Edad: 5-10

Idioma: Español

Temas: imaginación, resolución de problemas, aventura

La Costura cuenta la historia de una joven llamada Lila que constantemente pierde cosas. Su madre no está contenta con su inclinación a volver a casa sin los artículos con los que se fue. En respuesta a las reprimendas de su madre, usa su imaginación para explicar sus objetos que desaparecen pintando un mundo vívido que ella llama Lado de Atras. En este mundo hay criaturas mágicas como linces con cinco patas y ratas que bailan sobre dos patas. Viaja a este misterioso Lado de Atras en sus sueños e incluso a veces cuando mira profundamente en el río.

Cuando camina hasta la frontera de su pequeño pueblo y ve un agujero que se abre al Lado de Atras tiene una idea brillante. Conectando sus cosas fuera de lugar con esta apertura a otro mundo, Lila decide la única manera de evitar meterse en problemas perdiendo más cosas, debe usar sus habilidades de costura y arreglar el agujero, cerrando la entrada al Lado de Atras. Está orgullosa de su brillantez en la resolución de problemas, pero se despierta al día siguiente para encontrar una nube perpetua que se cierne sobre su ciudad. Todos parecen estar afectados, incluida su abuela. Ella se da cuenta de que esto debe deberse a la separación de los lados. El único recurso de Lila es abrir el pasadizo una vez más. Su aventura termina con sus sueños regresando a Lado de Atras y las criaturas fantásticas y el mundo en bodegas que confirman su éxito en la reapertura del portal. El prólogo de las historias confirma la teoría de Lila, las cosas perdidas terminan en el Lado de Atras. La historia se cierra con dos criaturas contemplando extraños objetos de Lado de Afuera. La animación para el libro es una mezcla única de trabajo con agujas y bocetos, dando vida a las criaturas imaginarias de Lado de Atras de una manera que enfatiza la diferencia entre los dos lados.

Age: 5-10

Language: Spanish

Themes: imagination, problem solving, adventure

La Costura tells the story of a young girl named Lila who is constantly losing things. Her mother is not pleased with her inclination to come home without the items she left with. In response to her mother’s reprimands, she uses her imagination to explain her disappearing objects painting a vivid world she calls Lado de Atras. In this world there are magical creatures like lynxes with five legs and rats that dance on two legs. She travels to this mysterious Lado de Atras in her dreams and even sometimes when she looks deep into the river. When she walks to the border of her small town and sees a hole that opens to the Lado de Atras she has a brilliant idea. Connecting her misplaced things to this opening to another world, Lila decides the only way to avoid getting in trouble by losing more things, she must use her sewing skills and patch up the hole, closing the entrance to the Lado de Atras.

She is proud of her brilliance in problem solving but wakes the next day to find a perpetual cloud looming over her town. Everyone seems to be affected including her grandmother. She realizes this must be due to the separation of the lados. Lila’s only recourse is to open the passageway once more. Her adventure ends with her dreams drifting back to Lado de Atras and the fantastical creatures and world in holds confirming her success in reopening the portal. The prologue of the stories confirms Lila’s theory, lost things do end up in the Lado de Atras. The story closes with two creatures contemplating strange objects from Lado de Afuera.

The animation for the book is a unique blend of needle work and sketch, bringing the imaginary creatures of Lado de Atras to life in a way that emphasizes the difference between the two lados.

Sobre Isol:

Puerto Rico Hurricane Fiona

While we were all bombarded with the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans were struggling to survive Hurricane Fiona but found little coverage in the news media here in the United States and probably globally. Several thoughts/concern/questions arise from this dilemma.

Virtually the entire country of Puerto Rico was without power when the hurricane struck and thousands still are due to an aged grid which makes the archipelago particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and creates long recovery times before power is reinstated. The power issue runs deeper than a faulty grid however, and leads us back to Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory with no voting representation in congress or in presidential elections. Further, the formerly government-owned electric company was privatized under the ownership of Luma. Austerity measures which cut back on public spending and encourage state owned infrastructure to go to private hands combined with Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory with no voice in elections have created the current situation in the country.

While current events in Puerto Rico are often muted to us here in North America, it is pertinent to remember that Puerto Ricans are not nor ever have been passive recipients of American imperialism. They continue to organize, fight, and create new ways to thrive which are important to recognize and teach students.

What do our students know about Puerto Rico?

At the beginning of 2021 the Latin American and Iberian Institute hosted a workshop on Afrolatinidad including lesson plans centering Puerto Rico. To access these lesson plans please click here.

The LAII’s Vamos a Leer blog has book reviews and guides centered on Puerto Rico including Parrots Over Puerto Rico, Maxy Survives the Hurricane, Sembrando Historias: Pura Belpre, bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos, and many more.

Teaching for Change: Building Social Justice in the Classroom has released a comprehensive reading set for middle and high school students since 1990 about Puerto Rico. The book is free to download on their website by clicking the link above. Included are sections on history and geography, identity, government, economy and civil life, and much more.

Why are some stories centered in the media while others are marginalized?

It is pertinent to work with youth on media literacy. By understanding how the media works, whose voices are centered and why, and how to read between the lines will ensure students have the tools to critically interrogate and interact with the news while developing their own world views. Below are some helpful links to incorporate media literacy education in your classrooms.

Common Sense Education has compiled a list of resources on media literacy including lesson plans and articles for educators.

The Center for Media Literacy is a great resources also including lesson plans and educator content relating to the topic.

How can we get involved in Puerto Rico?

Below are several organizations that are raising funds for disaster relief including roofs, health, clothing, and many more avenues that support community recuperation.

Techos Pa’Mi Genteón

Taller Salud

PayPal Taller Salud:

Casa Pueblo

Centros de Apoyo Mutuo (Mutual Aid Centers)


Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund (Taller Puertorriqueño, Philadelphia)

True Self Foundation

Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico

La Fondita de Jesús

Brigada Solidaria del Oeste

El Viaje – The Journey

Escrito e ilustrado por/Written and illustrated by: Francesca Sanna

Edad/Age: 5-10

Idioma/language: Inglés y Español/English and Spanish

Francesca Sanna nos trae una historia de la que somos muy conscientes a menudo desde una perspectiva externa, pero rara vez vislumbramos los viajes íntimos de las familias de refugiados. Ella ilustra bellamente a una madre y sus dos hijos mientras salen de su hogar una vez seguro y sereno para buscar un refugio en otro lugar que despierte empatía por el trío mientras leemos.

El padre en la historia estuvo involucrado en la guerra que de repente estalló y destrozó sus vidas felices dejando su seguridad y bienestar en una posición precaria. La madre finalmente decide que es hora de buscar un nuevo hogar, uno que brinde a su familia la seguridad que una vez sintieron en su propia ciudad. Vemos la fuerza de una madre soltera forjando y manteniendo una cara valiente para sus hijos en medio del peligro y lo desconocido. Al final de la historia todavía no han llegado a su nuevo hogar dejándonos preguntando, ¿encontrarán uno o su viaje será uno de búsqueda interminable de un lugar seguro para comenzar una nueva historia?

Temas: Refugiados, migración, guerra, esperanza, familia

Themes: Refugees, migration, war, hope, family

Francesca Sanna brings us a story that we are well aware of often from an outside perspective but rarely get a glimpse of the intimate journeys of refugee families. She beautifully illustrates a mother and her two children as they depart their once safe and serene home to look for a refuge somewhere else sparking empathy for the trio as we read.

The father in the story was involved in the war that suddenly erupted and tore their happy lives apart leaving their safety and wellbeing in a precarious position. The mother finally decides it is time to search for a new home, one that will provide her family with the safety and security they once felt in their own city. We see the strength of a single mother forging on and keeping a brave face for her children in the midst of danger and the unknown. At the end of the story they still have not reached their new home leaving us wondering, will they every find one or will their journey be one of never ending searching for a safe place to start a new story?

Additional Resources/Recursos adicionales:

Read along video with music:

Amnesty International: “Using Fiction to Explore Human Rights” lesson plan:

Francesca Sanna’s wesbite:

Discussion Question (please comment your responses):

What other books have you used in your classroom about refugees?

Have you incorporate refugee experiences into your lesson plans? How so?

Preguntas de discusión (por favor comente sus respuestas):

¿Qué son otros libros ha utilizado en su aula sobre los refugiados?

¿Ha incorporado las experiencias de los refugiados en sus planes de lecciones? ¿Cómo?