Saludos todos! This week we are concluding our March theme of women and Women’s History Month with another great read. Last week I featured the Coleccion Antiprincesas, which provides readers with biographies of underrepresented and under-studied historical Latina heroines. This week, however, we are switching gears a bit, focusing more on the courage and determination of young girls in our everyday lives. The book for this week is Letters Forever/ Cartas para siempre, written by Tom Luna and illustrated by Laura Alvarez. This wonderful story focuses on a young, female protagonist who has to learn how to navigate her complicated emotions in a difficult situation. Not only does this book show young readers how to cope with separation and heartache, it also counters stereotypes and challenges negative representations of women and girls by portraying a young girl whose empathy and emotional sensibility is not a flaw or a nuisance, but, ultimately, one of her greatest virtues.
This book tells the story of young Camila and her beloved abuelo, Felix, who lives far away in Veracruz, Mexico: “It had been two years since he left San Antonio to return home to Veracruz.” Camila reflects on the bittersweet memories of her grandfather playing his favorite guitar, the requinto, and how he would sing her lullabies when she was a little baby: “He had a deep beautiful voice and played the requinto with an almost angelic touch.” Although the plot following the female protagonist challenges typical, negative representations of women and girls, the character description of the grandfather also challenges expectations of men and boys. The grandfather is sensitive, artistic, loving and participates actively in caring for his grandchild, taking her on outings to the zoo and the park, to name a few, all the while singing or whistling tunes from Veracruz.
¡Hola a todos! Here are some timely resources that I hope will be of use to you. Unfortunately, next week I’ll be absent from the blog because it’s our spring break, but I’ll definitely be back the following week with more to share.
As a side note (but an important one!), we want to take a moment to add our voices to the chorus of advocates who are incensed that the Zinn Education Project would be banned in Arkansas. Here at Vamos we’re devout supporters of their efforts to teach students the diverse histories of this nation. Check out the preceding link not only to learn more about what’s happening, but also for suggestions on how to support the Zinn Education Project in its valuable work!
¡Hola a todos! Happy beginning of March! Here are various resources that I am glad to share.
– Just for kicks, I thought you might enjoy Remezcla’s compilation of recipes for perros calientes: Journey Through Latin America’s Weird and Wonderful Hot Dog Creations. My mouth was watering!
– Also by Remezcla, here is an Intimate Look at Las Patronas, the Mexican Women Who Feed Migrants Traveling on La Bestia.
Immigration is a frequent topic here at Vamos a Leer, as well as on the news. On Friday, January 27th, President Trump signed an executive order to help “protect Americans from ‘terrorist’ attacks.” This order suspended immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely banned Syrians (including refugees) from entering the United States. He has also announced his plans to carry out his campaign promise of building a wall on the United States/Mexico border.
Teaching Tolerance has put together some sources to support teachers in talking about current events, and write that “schools with immigrant, undocumented and refugee students are likely to see heightened anxieties and fears among students due to two executive orders:
1) a directive to start immediate construction on a border wall with Mexico and
2) a 90-day ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, and a 120-day suspension on refugee admissions into the United States (indefinitely for Syrian refugees).”
It is crucial to recognize that many students are living in fear for themselves, families and/or friends. Addressing these concerns is of utmost importance in creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for students. While some of the resources we’re sharing here are not explicitly connected to Latin America, we’re posting them because we are committed to social justice for all students. We believe in fostering an authentic community where all our students feel safe and valued.
Understanding each other – and valuing both our similarities and differences – is a first step in this process. At Vamos a Leer we strongly believe that books and stories can play a role in this process.
Below are a couple of resources you may find useful in building community in your classroom through stories.
Use these resources to offer facts and perspectives that can help correct misinformation, improve school safety and offer examples of how students across the country have responded in the face of Islamophobia.
- Expelling Islamophobia
A magazine feature story that explains why anti-hate and anti-bullying policies aren’t enough in the fight against Islamophobia in schools.
- What Is the Truth About American Muslims?
A publication co-produced by the Interfaith Alliance and the Religious Freedom Project of the First Amendment Center that debunks damaging stereotypes about Muslims in the United States. It also includes a section on religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution.
- Extreme Prejudice
A magazine feature story about why it’s necessary to teach about religious radicalism. The story has an accompanying lesson-based toolkit.
- Dressing in Solidarity
A magazine feature story about a school that rallied around its Muslim students after an anti-Muslim hate crime.
- Youth United! Enough Is Enough
A video feature about a school that lost a student to an anti-Muslim hate crime and how, after the tragedy, his classmates took action to establish a community-wide culture of respect, love and understanding. (Great for sharing with kids!)
- Religious Diversity in the Classroom: Fostering a Culture of Respect
A webinar co-produced by TT and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding about how to make your classroom a safe learning space for students of all religious and nonreligious beliefs.
- Debunking Stereotypes About Muslims and Islam
A classroom lesson in which students learn about Muslims in the United States and explore how religions are similar and
- Confronting Students’ Islamophobia
A blog post about a teacher’s reaction when her students resisted meeting a Muslim children’s book author.
- Don’t Look Away From Garissa
A blog post about an Islamic extremist attack on a Kenyan university and the implications for students and teachers in the United States when only the negative stories about Islam make it into the news.
I hope that these resources can support your efforts of resistance to the single stories that will continue to circulate the media and our nation in the coming months.
Saludos todos, and welcome back to our weekly Mira, Look book reviews! I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable winter holiday.
Our theme for this month is “unsung heroes,” including lesser-known biographies, as well as the cherished yet occasionally overlooked heroes of our personal lives—parents, siblings, teachers and other timeless inspirations. Our first book for the month, Two White Rabbits, written by Mexican author Jairo Buitrago and illustrated by Colombian artist Rafael Yockteng tells the story of a father who courageously brings his daughter across the U.S.-Mexico border. This week we are focusing on this book to honor and celebrate all of the moms and dads who’ve made sacrifices and taken risks for the sake of their children. However, while focusing on the unsung heroes in our personal lives, this book also broaches the topic of unnamed victims (within the context of immigration and refugee rights), providing a double-edged focal point for this story, as well as this month’s themes. As a result, we are kicking off 2017—a fresh start from what was, for many people, a tumultuous and anxiety-inducing year—with books that focus our attention on the people, icons, heroes large and small, and even victims that are often overlooked, unsung, unnamed, or forgotten.
Saludos todos! As many of you know, once a month we like to take the time to give special attention to our featured authors and their writing.This week we are featuring Edwidge Danticat, the prolific, inspiring author of many children’s, young adult, and adult books, whom many of you may also recognize from several of my previous ¡Mira, Look! posts. Danticat is originally from Haiti and her books often deal with the culture of Haiti and the immigrant experience, providing a wealth of information on the country’s history, culture and current events.
Here is a short synopsis from Goodreads of Danticat’s life and her abundant accomplishments:
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures.
Buenos 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.