WWW: Stand up, Stand together

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! While this month has not been focused directly on activism, I have still been showcasing some resources on activism and Haiti, tying our themes from this month and the last together. My first two posts this year showed activism in forms that were different than the protesting we might immediately associate with the word. However, since we at Vamos a Leer are focusing on loving one another, community, and self-love, this week’s post will be focused on the Haitians and Haitian-American activists who are standing (quite literally) in protest with Dominicans of Haitian descent in the recent Dominican Republic-Haiti Deportation crisis. For those of you who have not heard about this, you can learn more from Michele Wucker’s article or from this NPR broadcast. This crisis, which involves the mass deportations of thousands of “Dominican-born Haitians,” or second/third generation Dominicans of Haitian lineage, is sparking upset globally. After spending this past summer learning Haitian Creole and visiting the country for myself, I am particularly invested in this topic. But more than anyone, Haitian and Haitian-American activists are upset and are taking a stand on the behalf of Dominican-born Haitians. Continue reading

Book Review: The Color of My Words

The Color of My WordsThe Color of My Words
Written by Lynn Joseph
Published by Harper Collins,  2001
ISBN: 9780064472043
Age Level: 8 and up

Book Summary:

Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her — watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community — that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her — and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.

My Thoughts:

Each month as I sit down to write the review for our featured book, I find myself stuck. I’ve run out of different ways to say “I love this book.” I’m certainly not complaining. As educators, I think we’re quite lucky to have access to so much amazing literature that also provides a way for us to teach about Latin America. This month’s book was no different—I loved it. Oddly enough, I’ve found that the more I love a book, the harder it is for me to convey my thoughts and feelings in a review. I usually feel like I just can’t do the experience of reading it justice. But, here’s my attempt. If my words fall short in convincing you, I hope you’ll still give Joseph’s book a chance. It deserves it.

As a mix of both poetry and prose, The Color of My Words was the perfect follow-up to last month’s Caminar. Each chapter opens with a poem written by the protagonist, Ana Rosa. While it reads as a novel, each chapter functions as a vignette or short story told from Ana Rosa’s point of view, allowing the reader to experience some of the more significant events of Ana Rosa’s life the year she was 12. With openness and vulnerability Ana Rosa walks us through the year that would forever change her. This aspect of the book is reason enough to use it in the classroom. Part of what Ana Rosa learns in this year is the power of words, particularly her words. Ana Rosa finds her voice in her writing. The power of writing is something that I wish all students would learn. While we may not all be writers like Ana Rosa, our writing is still powerful. It’s a way to express and process one’s experiences, thoughts, and emotions. It’s important for our students to see that there’s more to writing than essays, reports, and extended response questions on standardized tests. While these are important skills that we often need at some point in our lives, the ability to process our experiences and how they have impacted us is equally essential. This is a novel that would pair really well with Linda Christensen’s “Where I’m From” poetry in which students reflect on the people and events that have most influenced the person they’ve become.

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¡Mira, Look! Featured Author: Lynn Joseph

Lynn JospehHello there readers! This month we are featuring author Lynn Joseph and her YA novel, The Color of My Words (ages 8 and up). The novel and its protagonist reflect the life and experiences of the author herself.

Born in Petit Valley, Trinidad, Joseph began her journey into creative writing with poetry at the age of eight. At nine her family moved to the United States, but Joseph would return to Trinidad each summer where she continued to write. She often refers to having felt as though she lived in two different worlds.

As a young adult, her poems and stories won contests and were published in literary magazines and newspapers, and she was editor of her high school and college newspapers. Joseph graduated from the University of Colorado and was hired to work at a prestigious publishing house. She went on to receive an advanced degree in law and eventually practiced at a top law firm.

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Our Next Good Read. . .The Color of My Words

Join us February 2nd at The Color of My WordsBookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading The Color of My Words (Ages 10 and up) by Lynn Joseph.

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her — watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community — that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her — and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.

Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Julia Alvarez

My comrade in blog, Katrina, told me that Before We Were Free and Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez have been two of our most popular Educator Guides/Books, she suggested that a look into this wonderful author would be a great ¡Mira, Look! piece … I’m sure she’s right!

Julia Alvarez, the Dominican-American author, has penned over 20 books, won numerous awards (including 2 Pura Belpres for Before We Were Free and Return to Sender and a Hispanic Heritage Literature Award), and is widely considered to be one of the most influential and important Latina writers today.

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Book Review: Before we were Free

In Julia Alvarez’s first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre.  Like many young children, she is curious and talkative.  Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve.  Her life seems rather normal.  She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam.  However all of this will change quickly.  The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of the infamous dictator Trujillo.  As the events of the story unfold, Anita’s life is forever changed.

Anita comes to realize that “El Jefe” is in fact, not the hero she believed him to be, but a dictator who threatens her family and friends, disappearing and torturing many Dominicans.  She is forced to grapple with what is right and wrong, as family members flee the country, while others are forced into hiding.  Her life is literally invaded by El Jefe’s Secret Police, the SIM. Continue reading