I’m just popping in here to let our readers know that we are approaching the end of our semester, which means that we’re concluding our blogging schedule for the time being. While we here at The University of New Mexico enjoy a reprieve of summer term, we hope that you, as educators around the country, do, too! We’ll be back in August to share more resources with you and to continue our conversations around diverse literature in the classroom.
I also wanted to add a few personal notes on behalf of our whole blogging team here at Vamos a Leer. For my own part, I will not be returning next year as a Mira, Look writer, since I am graduating from the UNM Latin American Studies Master’s program in just a couple weeks. I have greatly enjoyed these past two years working for this awesome blog, though, and I look forward to keeping up to date on future posts and publications! This summer I will be returning home to my native New York and looking for work while also getting ready to apply to law school for the following year. I’ll definitely miss the southwest sunshine!
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.
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!
We’re giving away a copy of The Head of the Saint written by Socorro Acioli–our featured novel for April book group meeting!! Check out the following from Goodreads:
After walking for days across the harsh Brazilian landscape only to be rejected by his last living relative, Samuel finds his options for survival are dwindling fast – until he comes to the hollow head of a statue, perfect for a boy to crawl into and hide…
Whilst sheltering, Samuel realises that he can hear the villagers’ whispered prayers to Saint Anthony – confessing lost loves, hopes and fears – and he begins to wonder if he ought to help them out a little. When Samuel’s advice hits the mark he becomes famous, and people flock to the town to hear about their future loves. But with all the fame comes some problems, and soon Samuel has more than just the lovelorn to deal with. A completely charming and magically told Brazilian tale, sure to capture your heart.
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.
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