5 Latino/a Children’s and YA Books Honoring Immigrant Experiences in the Winter Season


2016-December-Reading-RoundUp.pngBuenos días a todas y todos,

The Vamos a Leer theme for this month, as written in Keira’s Sobre Deciembre post, is focused on winter celebrations.  I was eager to explore children’s and YA literature around this topic in hopes of finding books that are reflective of the diverse familial celebrations, religious and spiritual practices, and cultural traditions throughout Latin America.  However, it would be disingenuous to state that this eagerness remained after learning the outcome of the election.  Rather, like many others, I began to reflect on the multiple uncertainties that our communities face.  More specifically, what will the future hold for those that are from other countries and living in the United States?  With everything that I read being filtered through this lens, I decided it was best to reframe the theme a bit.

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WWW: Rhythms Bring the Holiday to Life!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Here we are, already in December! This semester just flew right by.  Before delving into winter celebrations in Latin America, I just want to quickly extend gratitude to everyone reading, whether you are here for the first time or have been following my posts this entire semester.  Thank you for your readership, especially during the busy holiday season that is now upon us (Ahh!).

In the past, we have focused our December posts mostly on Las Posadas (you can find a number of our past Las Posadas posts here).  This year, I am including a musical playlist to offer both a complement to our presentations of Las Posadas and also a broader view of winter celebrations in Latin America.  I have a couple links to feature here that can be used in the classroom or for your own personal knowledge to aid in creating a culturally informed holiday discussion and celebration in your classroom.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Rhythms Bring the Holiday to Life!The first feature is a very diverse musical playlist, which includes music from Spain, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the United States.  Feliz Navidad from Smithsonian Folkways adds rhythm to the celebration of the holidays throughout the Spanish-speaking countries of the world!  Incorporating villancicos, aguinaldos, bulerias, zambas, and arrullos, this is truly a musical voyage through Christmas celebrations in Latin America.  To take it a step further, I am featuring another link to a musical map, which is a great way to illustrate where each different rhythm originates.  This world map is overlaid with the contents of the music from the first playlist, and in addition, playlists that collect music from holiday celebrations in other parts of the world (mainly, Africa and Eastern Europe, with various other locations, as well).  Continue reading

Reading Roundup: 10 Children’s Books about Latino Winter Celebrations

December 2015 Winter Celebrations

¡Buenos días! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! This month I’ve compiled a list of children’s books about winter festivities celebrated in Latin America and Latino communities in the United States. Here at Vamos a Leer we have tons of resources for teaching Latin American and Latino holiday traditions in the classroom. Many of them have been compiled under the heading “Las Posadas,” given that we’ve found many search engines that bring people here just for that topic. Below I’ve compiled a list of ten exemplary books that can help you explore the topic further with your students. I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I did!

Saludos y felices fiestas,
Kalyn  Continue reading

En la Clase: A Piñata in a Pine Tree

A Pinata in a Pine Tree | Teaching Holidays and Celebrations | Vamos a Leer BlogI realize it’s still November, but based on our search statistics, many of you are already looking for books, lesson plans, and resources for teaching about winter celebrations like Christmas and Las Posadas.  I’m impressed! You all are far more organized than I was when I was in the classroom.  You’ll definitely want to check out this week’s giveaway of Merry Navidad!  In previous posts we’ve discussed our philosophy for how to approach teaching about cultural celebrations and traditions in a way that’s authentic and meaningful.  Many of those same ideas are relevant here as well.

First, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve written about in past posts on teaching about winter celebrations.  This time of year was always one of my favorites times to be in the classroom because the possibilities for engaging and interesting lessons were endless.  When I taught third grade, at the beginning of each December I began a unit on three winter celebrations: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Las Posadas.  As a child, I remember talking about Hanukkah in school, but the extent of what we learned seemed to be limited to eating latkes and learning a song and game about dreidels.  I wanted to go beyond that.  I wanted my students to have a deeper understanding of cultural traditions that may be different from the ones they or their families personally observe. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Celebrate Christmas and Three Kings’ Day with Pablo and Carlitos

three kingsThis week, we’re going to turn our attention to another book on the Christmas holiday. This is a little different than the one we discussed last week. As a general note and/or disclaimer, this one has a slight religious component. This week’s book will focus on Christmas as well as el Día de los Tres Reyes, or Three Kings’ Day. We will be reviewing Campoy Isabel and Alma Flor Ada’s Celebrate Christmas and Three Kings’ Day with Pablo and Carlitos.

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¡Mira, Look!: A Piñata in a Pine Tree

cover-pinataIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, the holiday season is officially on the horizon. As the first half of the school year starts to officially wind down, it’s time for us to take a look at a few books which can be used in the classroom to discuss Christmas in the context of Latin America. For the next two weeks, we will be discussing books that are about Christmas. For this week, we will look at Pat Mora’s A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of ChristmasContinue reading

En la Clase: Bilingual Books Perfect for December

I know that it’s still November, and I’m sure some of you are gearing up for lots of cooking and time with family later this week.  While I always enjoyed the extra days off, inevitably part of my Thanksgiving weekend went to working on lesson plans that would get my class through December.  In case some of you will be spending part of your weekend doing the same thing, I thought I’d share a post that originally went up last year.  In it, we include lots of bilingual titles about various winter celebrations.  I always tried to plan read-aloud, writing projects and crafts for December as much as possible around literature.  If you’d like to do the same, I thought it would be helpful to have these titles sooner rather than later–I always found many of them at our local public library.  This list may still be useful for those of you who aren’t teachers, but celebrate Christmas with children at home.  Recently, I stumbled across the blog post “A Bookish Advent Calendar” which describes a different kind of advent activity.  Children count down to Christmas by unwrapping a different book to read each night (don’t worry–you don’t have to purchase 24 books, a quick trip to the library should help you find everything you need).  It might even be fun to adapt this activity for the classroom as a countdown to Winter Break, including books about winter and a variety of winter traditions and celebrations.  I hope you find the resources below helpful.  You may also want to check out Katie’s post on Multicultural Books for Christmas from Youth Literature Reviews.  She includes a number of different titles from the ones we share below. Continue reading

En la Clase: Bilingual Resources for Teaching about Winter Celebrations

One of the questions we receive most often from the educators we work with and our blog readers is what recommendations we have for good bilingual classroom resources, mainly books.  While doing research for some other posts, I came across a number of great bilingual resources perfect for teaching about winter celebrations.  If you didn’t get a chance to read last week’s post on why I liked to teach about winter celebrations and how I implemented it, you may want to check that out here.  Ailesha also put together two great posts full of resources for teaching about Las Posadas, a number of which are bilingual.  Read about online resources here and books here.

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