Reading Roundup: 10 Latino Children’s Books Celebrating the Natural World

Aprils 2016 Reading Roundup¡Buenos días!

In celebration of Earth Day, this month I have put together a list of books involving Latin America and the natural world. While creating this list, I was continually thinking about our everyday interactions with nature. This month is the perfect time for openly and beautifully reflecting on what it means to interact with the earth, and I hope that these books will provide a platform to do so. These books are a celebration of the natural world, including plants, animals, the sun and the sky. In addition, they draw connections to conservation, life cycles, food and medicines. I hope everyone finds them inspiring!

¡Saludos!
Kalyn

Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Collages by Susan L. Roth
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620140048
Age Level: 6-11

Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. . . . These are Puerto Rican parrots. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever.

Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future. Woven into the parrots’ story is a brief history of Puerto Rico itself, from before the first human settlers to the present day.

With striking collage illustrations, a unique format, and engaging storytelling, Parrots Over Puerto Rico invites readers to witness the amazing recovery efforts that have enabled Puerto Rican parrots to fly over their island once again.

My thoughts:
I absolutely loved this book, and it is perfect for teaching Earth Day! Roth’s collages are incredibly captivating and I could not help but take time looking at their details. This book ties the history of the Puerto Rican parrots to the history of Puerto Rico itself, therefore teaching about the effect that actions in history have on the environment. Just like Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism and becoming a commonwealth state of the United States, the Puerto Rican parrots have had a difficult history, and they have survived and continue to persevere. This book also tells about the need for intervention in order to prevent the extinction of the parrots by depicting human efforts to save the parrots. It tells in detail the processes that scientists and conservationists have taken towards saving these birds, and at the end of the book there are photos of the efforts with nonfictional descriptions. In addition, Lee & Low Books has a guide for educators that I encourage you to check out! Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: The First Tortilla

Children's Book Review: The First Tortilla by Rudolfo Anaya | Vamos a Leer¡Saludos, todos! This week I will be reviewing The First Tortilla, written by Rudolfo Anaya, illustrated by Amy Córdova, and translated into Spanish by Enrique R. Lamadrid (one of our professors here at UNM!). This book review will conclude our November-themed books, as next week we turn our attention to our December discussions on winter celebrations. For now, though, we are focusing on this lovely, bilingual retelling of a Mexican legend, keeping in tune with our themes of food and family, as well as indigenous traditions. This story, with stunning illustrations and an endearing female protagonist, depicts the harvest season amongst a small, Aztec tribe. Readers will revel in the old legend, while learning of the need to respect nature and its resources. For those of you avid blog-readers, this review will surely remind you of some of our previous reviews on other works by Rudolfo Anaya, and his retellings of old myths and legends.

Children's Book Review: The First Tortilla by Rudolfo Anaya | Vamos a LeerBest suited for ages 9-13, Anaya’s work tells the fictional tale of how a young girl’s courage saves her village from a terrible drought, and introduces corn to the peoples of Mesoamerica. Ultimately, the discovery of corn also leads to the creation of “the first tortilla“. The old legend, as well as Anaya’s rendition, reminds readers and listeners of the importance in giving thanks, and appreciating the land and the sustenance that it provides.  Continue reading

WWW: Primary Documents at The Mesolore Project

I wonder if students who are taught history exclusively by reading history textbooks ever learn to be historians.

With that in mind, The Mesolore Project is a bilingual, primary document resource for scholars and students of Mesoamerica. Its developers, Liza Bakewell and Byron Hamann have structured the Project to “focus on the value of consulting primary documents at any age.” Mesolore features three sixteenth-century interactive documents from Central Mexico and three from the Mixtec area of Oaxaca. Continue reading

WWW: PBS Conquistadors On-Line Learning Adventure

Long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Inca controlled 2,500 miles of South America’s west coast and ruled over 12 million people. Meanwhile, in Central Mexico, over a quarter million people lived in Tenochtitlan on two islands constructed in a “sea of water lilies.” These were not the disorganized, nomadic tribes that I was introduced to when I was in grade school. The pre-columbian Americas featured highly coordinated, centralized empires: Engineers designed intricate road and canal systems; astronomers tracked celestial bodies; and state bureaucrats meticulously calculated and recorded the tribute obligations of local communities.  Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Themed Book Lists: Indigenous Peoples & Rights

Photo from Flickr CC user: Casbr

Photo from Flickr CC user: Casbr

Hello readers! This week I wanted to give you some resources on teaching about indigenous peoples and rights. Sadly, unjustly and unfortunately, the stories, histories and struggles of Native peoples are left out of history, literature and culture. But their stories deserve to be heard, to be understood and cherished. Many children in our schools identify as a Native American, or a Native Central or South American, we owe it to them to enlighten ourselves to the resources available that showcase their culture and share it with their classmates. Not all of these books are award winners, but I will highlight the ones that are and the links are directly to the book’s Amazon page. Continue reading