Our wonderful children’s book reviewer, Alice, is away from the blog this week. In place of her review, we thought we’d share this beautiful resource developed by Bookology Magazine: Poetry Mosaic.
In honor of #NationalPoetryMonth, Bookology has invited authors to read their original poetry and is compiling the recordings into a mosaic of poets and poetry, with a new author highlighted each day. All of the poets selected are amazing, but here are a few of our Vamos a Leer favorites: Jorge Argueta, Pat Mora, and Margarita Engle. Argueta and Engle read both English and Spanish versions of their poems, so this is an even better start to the day for our bilingual readers. Take your pick of language!
Hope you enjoy this poetic start to the day as much as we did!
Hola a tod@s!
As March and Women’s History Month wrap up, I’ve been pleasantly distracted by the birdsong outside my window, the patter of rain that passed over our desert city last night, and the many spring flowers bursting from the ground. With National Poetry Month coming next week, I’m compelled to think in poetic terms. This piece from Neruda seems appropriate:
El pájaro ha venido
a dar la luz:
de cada trino suyo
nace el agua.
Y entre agua y luz que el aire desarrollan
ya está la primavera inaugurada,
ya sabe la semilla que ha crecido,
la raíz se retrata en la corola,
se abren por fin los párpados del polen.
Todo lo hizo un pájaro sencillo
desde una rama verde.
The bird has come
to give us light:
from each of its trills
water is born.
Between water and light, air unfolds.
Now the spring’s inaugurated.
The seed knows that it has grown
the root pictures the flower
and the pollen’s eyelids finally open.
All this done by a simple bird
on a green branch.
Here at Vamos a Leer we’re heartily embracing the sentiment of spring and poetry. In the coming weeks, we’ll share resources that highlight both, from children’s books that look at the natural world in a variety of ways to poetry for younger and older readers alike.
We hope you enjoy our findings as much we’ve enjoyed discovering them.
Hello, dear readers!
It’s not often that I get the chance to contribute TWICE to the blog in one week, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to chime in on the conversation about diversifying Women’s History Month. I’ve been humming to myself over here in the office as I’ve been digging into children’s and young adult literature focused on women’s history – and Hispanic women’s contributions to history, in particular. While there are beautiful books by and about women peppered throughout the blog and in our previous Reading RoundUp posts, for this month I had the pleasure of finding and compiling books based on real life heroines. These are books that highlight the groundbreaking, earth-shattering contributions and hard work of Hispanic/Latina/Chicana and indigenous women in the United States, Cuba, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Chile. Sometimes their work was an act of personal triumph; at other times, it revolutionized society. Their achievements break barriers in music, labor rights, school segregation, literature, and art. Across the spectrum, their stories are absolutely worthwhile.
As a caveat, I should add that I haven’t personally read all of the books on this list — like The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, and Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood — but they’re stellar publications if others’ reviews are anything to go by. If you should add them to your bookshelf, please let us know what you think. They’re certainly on our TBR list now.
Side note: The descriptions provided below are all reprinted from the publishers’ information.
Without further ado, here are 15 children’s and YA books that we hope will expand your classroom and home discussions about Women’s History Month!
p.s. Remember that Teaching for Change is offering a discount in their TFC non-profit, indie bookstore in honor of Women’s History Month. Just use the code Women2017 at checkout!
Hola a tod@s!
This month we’re joining many around the country in celebrating Women’s History Month. Of course, we hope that the discussion of womyn (past, present, and future) can be constant and valued within the standard curriculum that’s used all year long, but we don’t deny that Women’s History Month provides a timely opportunity to hone in and heighten that effort. More than just acknowledging women, though, we want to draw attention to the diversity of women whose struggles and experiences have led us to the present day. Unfortunately, information that goes beyond the White (largely middle class and US-focused) experience is scarce. It’s rather hard to identify, let alone come by, resources that shine a light on the breadth and depth of women’s experiences.
While they get some props for trying, even the Smithsonian Education division only goes so far toward remedying the lack of materials. On their Women’s History Teaching Resources site, for instance, they offer materials that focus on African American Women Artists and Native American Women Artists, but make no mention of Hispanic/Latina/Chicana women! In all honesty, though, the portal was just recently launched and we can only hope that the content is still a work in progress.
On a more positive note, organizations such as Teaching for Change are making significant strides toward diversifying the conversation. Starting March 1st, they’re daily highlighting diverse books featuring women’s accomplishments every day AND offering a 20% discount on book purchases from their non-profit, indie bookstore (code Women2017). Check out their page on “Women’s History Month: A Book Every Day” for the details.
And courtesy of Colours of Us, blog dedicated to multicultural children’s books, we’ve been enjoying “26 Multicultural Picture Books About Inspiring Women and Girls” and “32 Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models”
For our part, we’re going to bring you suggestions for worthwhile children’s and YA literature over the next few weeks, all with the goal of highlighting women’s accomplishments. Stay tuned for our blogging team’s thoughts and contributions! If you’re hard at work diversifying the conversation in your classroom, please share your experiences with us — we’d love to hear what you’re doing to change the world!
In February we’ve turned to upcoming holidays and other celebrations as a means of shaping our emphases. Perhaps you’re thinking about these holidays and other celebrations right now and are pondering how to fit them into your classroom. For Valentine’s Day, for instance, we were inspired to think about a more nuanced way to approach the holiday — one that moves us beyond candy hearts and red-tinted art projects. Our focus is going to be on love as a broader concept — love of self, of community, and of world. It’s a theme that seems more appropriate than ever given all of the negative sentiments and outright hatred circulating among at the moment.
And in recognition of Black History Month, we start February by looking specifically at a love of culture and history that celebrates the peoples of Africa in their home countries and as they disperse throughout the African diaspora. Stay tuned in particular for updates from Colleen about the Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA), which highlights exemplary children’s and YA literature; for Alice’s range of children’s books that think expansively about love and offer a multitude of opportunities to pause, reflect, and appreciate; and Alin’s collection of current resources from around the web.
We hope you enjoy these materials! Chime in at any point if you think of a book we’ve missed or a resource that would be useful to your fellow educators.
Hasta el próximo,
As 2016 wrapped up, Katrina and I turned our attention to which YA titles we’d feature in 2017. To help figure out what would be the most useful and interesting, we reached out to our local book group (thanks to all of you for sharing your ideas!). In the process we heard a range of ideas, including reading authors who come directly from Latin America, exploring books that will appeal to younger readers (middle school, rather than advanced high school), and interspersing different formats (like graphic novels) into the list.
From all of that, and more, we came up with the following featured titles and are looking forward to reading them with you!
January 9th | Tractor Brewing (Wells Park)
Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver | Ages 14 and up | United States (Alabama) and Argentina
February 13th | Tractor Brewing (Wells Park)
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos | Ages 14 and up | United States (Wisconsin and Puerto Rico)
March 13th | Tractor Brewing (Wells Park)
Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph | Ages 12 and up | United States (New York) and Dominican Republic
April 10th | Tractor Brewing (Wells Park)
The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli and translated by Daniel Hahn| Ages 14 and up | Brazil
May 22nd | Tractor Brewing (Wells Park)
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan | Ages 12 and up | United States (Pennsylvania and California) and Germany
Feliz año nuevo a tod@s! We’re excited to come back in 2017 with a renewed dedication to sharing and celebrating the wealth of literature focused on Latin@ experiences in children’s and YA books. We start the year inspired by the outpouring of community-focused sentiments and social justice emphases that have emerged in the last two months. With this in mind, we’ve decided that now is a good time to focus in on a conversation about social change and how it happens. How do we achieve a more just and equitable world? A world that prioritizes multicultural experiences and backgrounds rather than denigrating differences?
Though these questions merit much larger conversations than we can engage in here, we can offer at least one approach: to think of change as something brought about not only by famous, charismatic leaders, but more so by thousands of individual actions. We’re talking about actions that may be public or private, societal or familial, formal or informal, quiet or loud, compassionate or fierce, to name but a few of the many variations. To get at what this spectrum of change looks like in practice, we’re using the month of January to move beyond traditional heroes and to consider lesser known stories and “unsung heroes” in children’s and YA Latin@ literature.What are the stories in Latin@ literature that can spark change and inspire young readers?
We hope you’ll join us along our journey now and in the coming months. As always, thanks for being here and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!
Image: Adapted from photograph of mural commemorating the Madres de la Plaza del Mayo in Argentina. Reprinted via CC © from Flickr user Seven Resist.