April 21st | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! This week’s resources are diverse and I hope they are of interest to you.

– Check out how this College Student (Kaya Thomas) Created a Mobile Directory of 600 Books that Prioritize Diversity. After realizing that most of the characters in books she read didn’t look like her, “Thomas devised an iPhone app that functioned as a directory of 300 books showcasing characters of color.”

These Latin Americans Celebrated their Roots with a Mesoamerican Ballgame Championship in Tetiohuacán. This ballgame, known as “pitza” in the Classic Maya language, was celebrated over 3,000 years ago in the region and is today practiced as part of an effort to reclaim culture and history.

— Here is a book review of Mamá the Alien/ Mamá La Extraterrestre written by Rene Colato Laínez and illustrated by Laura Lacámara. This bilingual book is the story of how Sofía discovers the different meaning of the word “alien” and its implications for her mother. The book is published by Lee and Low Books, and is accompanied by a teacher’s guide.

– Check out the story of how “‘Lucía the Luchadora’ author wants more Latino kids to see themselves in picture books.” Author Cynthia Leonar “Garza, who has a background in journalism and writing, said she wanted to write her first picture book for kids like her — and for kids like her daughters. ‘I was looking for something I wasn’t finding,’ she said: picture books that featured kids who looked like her kids.” To top it off, Garza also wrote the story to help “little boys get the message that girls can be superheroes.”

–For an inspiring story of how literature can change one life and many lives all at once, we suggest you read this article about Rueben Martinez (winner of the Innovator’s Award at the L.A. Times Book Prize) and his view on reading and books. From humble roots, Reuben’s “barbershop-cum-bookstore Libreria Martinez Books and Art Gallery became one of the largest purveyors of Spanish-language books in the country, as well as a center for literacy advocacy whose influence continues to ripple nationwide.”

– Lastly, you should probably know about “The Great Language Game,” which is a simple but good way to pass the time individually or with your students.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Smiling Faces. Reprinted from Flickr user Kay & Amy under CC©.

January 27th | Week in Review

2017-01-27-01.png¡Hola a todos! Happy Children’s Book Day! I hope that the resources this week are of use to you.

– For those of you in higher education teaching about social movements, check out Remezcla’s article, What the Women’s March on Washington Meant For Young Latinx. “Only time will tell. I, for one, will be holding on to the hope and the magic that Saturday gave me.”

Watch 6-Year-Old Sophie Cruz Give One of the Best Speeches of The Women’s March provided to us by Rethinking Schools. “Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed. … !Si se puede! Si se puede!…”

– Our friends Teaching for Change posted Protests: Sites for Education and Organizing. “ … But from what I could see, there appeared to be little conscious effort to use those demonstrations as organizing tools in effective ways that were second nature to us back in the bad old days.”

— Latinos in Kid Litshared the Book Review: The Smoking Mirror by David Bowles. “David Bowles’s Pura Belpré honor book, The Smoking Mirror, is a fast-paced, masterful journey through Aztec mythology and pre-Columbian Mexican history.”

Lee and Low Books announced that Junior Library Guild is a sponsor for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Andre Thorne VP of Marketing expressed, “We believe that every student should have access to terrific books that reflect the diversity of this nation”

Latinas for Latino Lit shared .R.J. Palacio and Meg Medina Talk Diversity and Children’s Books. Meg Medina shares her view on children and the importance of reading. She says, “I think if you’re in a school that doesn’t have Latino students you probably need my books more than anyone else. Because that may be the best chance those students have to meet and consider a story through the eyes of somebody who’s different than they are.”

– Lastly, here is an Open Letter to Teachers Everywhere shared by Teaching Tolerance. “Imagine the power of educators valuing dissent and affirming what students can achieve rather than magnifying what they can’t.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Fireworks. Reprinted from Flickr user PsychaSec under CC©.

November 11th | Week in Review

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Hola a todos! This Week in Review is quite long, but I assure you it is full of resources and knowledge that needs to be shared.

ColorLines shared a recent snippet from the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, inviting readers to “Watch John Oliver Break Down How School Resegregation Hurts Students.” “Black and Latino children are more likely to attend school with inexperienced teachers who are then less likely to offer a college prep curriculum… [and are] 6 times as likely to be in poverty schools.”

— Lee & Low’s blog, The Open Book, shared a post on “Books as Bricks: Building a Diverse Classroom Library and Beyond,” which offers a list of recommendations for teachers looking to diversify their class and school libraries.

– The Horn Book published an article on “Decolonizing Nostalgia: When Historical Fiction Betrays Readers of Color” by Sarah Hannah Gómez, in which she writes: “Omitting nonwhites from episodic historical fiction and the everyday history that informs our lives today says that the only contribution by people of color to society is conflict. Deleting them from the continuous line of history is a lie that perpetuates this insidious myth. And middle-grade historical fiction has a long way to go to acknowledge this betrayal to readers and attempt to overcome it.”

— The blog, Reading While White, shared a guest post with one of our favorite authors, Yuyi Morales, who discusses “Day of the Dead, Ghosts, and the Work We Do as Writers and Artists.” Morales offers a beautiful discussion of her personal practices related to Día de los Muertos and the implications of its distortion in the general media and children’s books.

– The Facebook page Raising Race Conscious Children shared the article,
Telling Poor, Smart Kids That All It Takes Is Hard Work to Be as Successful as Their Wealthy Peers is a Blatant Lie,” which explores how these students face systemic disadvantages even though they work hard.

— Also, Fundación Cuatrogatos recommends the book Corre que te pillo. Juegos y juguetes, which pulls together 27 games and toys that have existed since the early century in Latin America and other regions around the world

The Zinn Education Project just shared The #NoDAPL syllabus for high school and adults. This resource contextualizes how the current resistance in North Dakota is tied to a “broader historical, political, economic, and social context going back over 500 years to the first expeditions of Columbus” and features the practices of “Indigenous peoples around the world [who] have been on the frontlines of conflicts like Standing Rock for centuries.” “

— From We Need Diverse Books, we learned of the recent article, “The Case of the Missing Books/ 10 Years of Data,” written by children’s book author and artist Maya Gonzalez to highlight the lack of diversity in children’s literature over the last decade.d. “The graph below shows the children’s books that were missing by POC and Indigenous people in the children’s book industry over the last 10 years.”

Lee & Low Books just released Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris. The story is about a Mayan young girl named Ixchel and her quest to create a beautiful weaving from unusual materials.

— Lastly, Teaching Tolerance shared What We’re Reading This Week: November 4, a list of resources for critical and conscientious teaching in middle and high school classrooms.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Street Art. Reprinted from Flickr user ARNAUD_Z_VOYAGE under CC©.

The Day After: What Do We Tell the children?

Dear friends,

Last night I watched the states turn red across the map and I was overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty. I received call after call, message after message of friends calling me in tears. I, like many others, was stunned. In the face of that disbelief come true, I began to wonder: what will school look like tomorrow? What are we supposed to say? What am I supposed to say to friends calling me in tears?

As we enter our classrooms, today and in the coming weeks, we must recognize that many students feel unsafe and vulnerable in their own country and classrooms, and that this fear is not conducive to living nor learning. As educators we are supposed to remain “neutral,” but we need not remain silent in that neutrality. It is crucial we do speak, that we make space for conversations, and that we listen.

But how do we do this? Where do we start? What do we say, and how do we say it?

While I don’t have the answers, I recognize that no one has the answers – only ideas. It is with this in mind I share with you two resources to support you in the coming weeks:

“Teach them, third, how to be responsible members of a civic society. Teach them how to engage in discussion—not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of understanding and being understood. Students need to learn…to question taken-for-granted assumptions, to see their own biases, to take feedback, to challenge one another. We need to teach students how to disagree—with love and respect. These skills will be priceless in the coming months and years as we work to build a democratic society that protects the rights of all people ― regardless of the cooperation or resistance those efforts face from the executive branch.”

  • Some guidance from Teaching Tolerance’s post The Day After:
    • Begin within. Prepare yourself first to engage in difficult conversations surrounding the various topics—racism, civil rights, immigration and so forth—that the election has raised. Then develop a game plan to do so with students. The distinct life experiences, cultures, languages and backgrounds represented in your classroom can lead to high-stakes conversations that are uncomfortable at times. Work to draw a connection between the diversity of our country and the diversity in your classroom.
    • Get back to instruction. This is not to imply that you have pushed instruction aside, but the election season has taken its toll on us all. So think of this as a time to press “reset.” Try new instructional strategies. Talk to a fellow educator about a lesson that works well in their class. Use a new read aloud or app. Step outside of your box and go for that project or unit you always wanted to try. Focusing on delivering new, exciting instructional content to your kids is a way to reinvigorate the classroom and yourself.
    • Strengthen your classroom community. Think about the go-to strategies for building a classroom community. Choose some activities in which students build relationships and understanding with each other. For example, play a collaborative game together or break out a classic morning meeting book. These types of activities can help transcend politics and breathe life into a divided classroom.
    • Create space for reflection. As adults, we have our hopes for what this next presidency will accomplish. We have specific issues that are personal and close to us. The same is true for your students. Share with them your thoughts, and allow them to share theirs with you and their classmates. Students are often more apt to put these types of thoughts down on paper, so consider a related journaling activity.
    • Discuss what respect means. In a recent Teaching Tolerance survey, teachers mentioned over 500 times that respect is the number one rule in their classrooms. Think about spending some time breaking down the essence of respect with students. What is it? Who gets it and why give it? Find ways to encourage students to pay respect to the democratic process and the office of the presidency itself, regardless of who occupies the executive seat. Emphasize that using a critical lens and holding our elected officials accountable is not the same as being disrespectful or uncivil.
    • Look—and plan—ahead. New presidential administrations tout goals for their “first 100 days” in office. There is a great deal of strategic planning involved. How about the next 100 days in your classroom? What will you focus on? What standards will you cover? What accomplishments await your students at the end? Consider involving students in 100-day plans of their own (for example, class projects or individualized plans to reach a reading level or similar achievement).
    • Talk about losing with grace. One candidate will lose this election, and countless people will have poured their time, energy and hopes into that person’s campaign. Take the opportunity to talk with your students about what happens when you try really hard for something—and you don’t get it. This could be in sports, academics, personal relationships or something else. Remind them that we all lose and confront failure, but it’s how we recover that matters.

Wishes of strength in the coming weeks,

Hania

October 28th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! Enjoy the materials for this week; I know I had a really fun time gathering them.

– The Washington Post shared the article, “A Yale Study Suggests Racial Bias Among Preschool Teachers.” “Researchers found that teachers’ responses differed by race…”

Latinos in Kid Lit shared a Facebook video with Life Advice from Sarai Isaura Gonzalez– the 11-year-old of Star Bomba Estéro’s music video, “Soy Yo.” You can share this video with your kids so they, too, can “be proud of their heritage.”

— Also, Indian Country Today Media Network emphasized How One Native Researcher Is Improving the Lives of Young People.

Literary Hub Shared Marlon James’ and his thoughts in the article “Why I’m Done Talking About Diversity.” “The fact that we’re still having them [panels on diversity] not only means that we continue to fail, but the false sense of accomplishment in simply having one is deceiving us into thinking that something was tried.”

– Lastly, La Fundación Cuatro Gatos shared the link to download for free Literatura y poder. Las censuras en la literature infantile y juvenil.“La exposición compuesta por una serie de paneles divulgativos, ordenados de manera cronológica, enriquecida por documentos originales de la época y analizada detalladamente por profesionales e investigadores, nos acerca con una mirada libre y fresca los detalles más importantes a tener en cuenta para poder comprender y entender en profundidad el poder de la literatura infantil y juvenil.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: #NoDAPL. Reprinted from Flickr user Desiree Kane under CC©.

October 21st | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I am sorry for the technical difficulties last week! We promise not to send you the same post three times in a row again, even if we’re really excited about it.

Now that we’re back on schedule, here is the week in review. Let us know if we overlooked any marvelous resources!

— As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, Read Diverse Books recommended a list of books to Read During and After Latinx Heritage Month. I’ve read A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros and The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, but clearly have a long list of TBR ahead of me!

– Our Rethinking School friends shared on their Facebook page an important article that highlights How the Stress of Racism Affects Learning.

— Also, on the blog Reading While White, Allie Jane Bruce shares Thoughts on Stereotypes and offers a perspective that we share here at Vamos a Leer: “…we need to pay attention when characters are given stereotypical traits.”

Latinx in Kid Lit shared an example of the positive influence of bilingual education in Californians, Having Curbed Bilingual Education, May Now Expand it. “What we want is for individual schools to be able to decide what they think is best for the students, whether that’s a dual language or some other way.”

– Over at the De Colores blog, we read a moving review of the children’s book Dos Conejos Blancos / Two White Rabbits written by Jairo Butrango and illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Recently selected as an Américas Award Commended Title, this is a book to add to your collection!

— Lastly, Lee & Low Books shared the new Curated Books App by We Need Diverse Books. “OurStory is a database comprised of more than 1,200 curated books reflecting diverse characters and themes that librarians, educators, parents, and children can search for reading recommendations.”

Abrazos,

Alin Badillo


Image: Ballet Folklorico Performers. Reprinted from Flickr user Jennifer Janviere under CC©.

Reading RoundUp: 10 Children’s and YA Books with Diverse Latinx Perspectives

 

Vamos a Leer¡Buenos días a todos y todas!

As mentioned in Keira’s Sobre Septiembre post, this month’s Reading Roundup is related to the theme of Hispanic Heritage Month. To guide the direction of this month’s book list, I decided that it was imperative for me to determine what I believe Hispanx/Latinx heritage to be. Initially the task seemed easy enough, as I have certainly carved out an understanding of how I define my own Chicana/Latina heritage. Yet, as I attempted to make connections on a grand scale, I found myself unable. I felt as though I were distilling the vibrancy of an entire collective of people down to a single ingredient, a generalization, and a superficiality.

How does one meaningfully capture the range of cultural practices, traditions, languages, religions, geography, race, and ethnicity – just to name a few – of those who identify as Latinx? How could I be so bold to answer for others the deeply personal question of how they define their heritage? I am only able to define my own.

After much thought, I decided that the best way to view the tapestry of “Hispanx/Latinx heritage” was to hang it up, step back, and explore each pictorial design individually. For that reason, this month’s list will be focused on literature that possesses strong and individual narratives; where the author’s experiences, values, and diversity can seep through the text, allowing their unique Latinidad to be known.

Some of the narratives are rooted in reality, as in Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White. Others are teeming with imagination and the fantastical, as in The Jumbies. Others still may be representative of someone’s reality, somewhere, as in ¡Sí! Somos Latinos/Yes! We are Latinos, or even Niño Wrestles the World.

I invite you to explore and articulate how you define your own unique heritage, or ask your students about theirs. Is the way you define your heritage different from that of your family? Is there literature that represents you? What would be an important element of your heritage that you would want to share with others?

I hope that you enjoy these books as I did and that the diversity within the Latinx experience abounds from their pages!

Mis saludos,

Colleen

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