Reading Roundup: 10 Afro-Caribbean Children’s and Young Adult Books

Feb 2016 Afro-Caribbean Narrative

¡Buenos días!

I hope everyone is having a great week! I’m glad to be back with our Reading Roundup. This month’s list goes with our theme of Afro-Caribbean narratives. In the spirit of Black History Month, we are highlighting the importance of inclusive conversations in the classroom focused on race and diverse narratives, with a focus on civil rights. As Keira emphasized in her Sobre Febrero post, it’s important for these conversations to continue beyond the “heritage month” period, and so I hope that you’ll use this Reading Roundup list as year-round inspiration in your classroom.

While compiling these titles, I took extra care to include books that simultaneously celebrate the cultural diversity and richness of Afro-Caribbean peoples and acknowledge their difficult histories, including narratives related to slavery, repression, and what it means to be a part of a diaspora community in exile.  Together or individually, I’m hopeful that these titles will prompt meaningful conversations with and among your students.  Below are a few resources that may be helpful as you undertake that effort (thanks to Charla for her earlier posts highlighting some of these materials!) Continue reading

En la Clase: ‘Twas Nochebuena. . .

Twas Nochebuena | En la Clase | Vamos a Leer BlogToday’s En la Clase continues our December theme on winter celebrations by sharing how to implement another great children’s book into your teaching.  We’ve already shared posts on The Miracle of the First Poinsettia and A Piñata in a Pine Tree.  Be sure to check those out for some other fun resources if you missed them.

I recently remembered a recommendation a blog reader gave me last year about the beautiful book ‘Twas Nochebuena written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sarah Palacios.  Somehow I’d missed this book when it came out in 2014, but I’m really happy to be writing about it this year in time for one of our December posts.  Greenfield Thong and Placios have created a new version of the familiar ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas tale. Here, students will read about one family’s Nochebuena celebration.  This story, like some of the others we’ve highlighted this month, is filled with references to Latino Christmas traditions such as tamales, adornos, canciones, las posadas, and champurrado. Written in a mixture of English and Spanish, the book can be used with English speakers or Spanish speakers, as the surrounding words and illustrations provide plenty of context clues.  The glossary at the back is also a great resource. Continue reading

Book Giveaway: Merry Navidad!

Good afternoon, everyone!

Can you believe that the holidays are upon us!  I cannot!  Although we are sad to say that this is our last week of the Tuesday Giveaways for this semester, we are happy to have given out so many great books thanks to Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy’s gracious donation and we want to encourage you to look out for some more giveaways in the spring!  Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Merry Navidad!Our final giveaway of the semester will be Merry Navidad!, co-authored by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Viví Escrivá, and translated into English by Rosa Zubizarreta.  This book is described as a “warm and vibrant collection of traditional Spanish Christmas carols, or villancicos, [in which] authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy bring to life the holiday traditions of Latin America and Spain. The creative English adaptations by Rosalma Zubizarreta both capture the spirit of the originals and add a new dimension to the songs. And Spanish illustrator Viví Escrivá‘s spirited illustrations are perfect backdrops for the lyrics, adding rich holiday flavor.”  It would be a great addition to classroom holiday activities for all age groups. Are you ready for a sing-along? Comment below and let us know! Have a happy and safe holiday season and don’t forget to check back in the spring for more giveaways!

Until spring,

Charla


Image: Photo of Merry Navidad! Reproduced from Alma Flor’s website.

Book Giveaway: Tales our Abuelitas Told/Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas!

Good afternoon, everyone!

We are in week eight of the giveaway series so make sure you comment this week for your second-to-last chance to win!  Thank you again to all who continue to comment each week and congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway!  This week’s giveaway includes Tales our Abuelitas Told, and the Spanish translation, Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas, written by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy.  Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Tales our Abuelitas Told/Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas!The book has won many recognitions, including the Literary Guild Medal, and the Kirkus Review Kirkus Best Books award.  In Tales our Abuelitas Told, “Twelve stories from varied roots of Hispanic culture come together in a colorful collection that includes talking ants, magic bagpipes, dancing goats, and flying horses. In some cases the tales emphasize a moral, such as looking for the good in any bad situation as in ‘Catlina the Fox.’ In others, the story illustrates the importance of friends, as in the case of ‘The Bird of One Thousand Colors.’  The authors seek to trace the origins of the stories through personal source notes, citing variants of the original story and the historical themes behind the tales. Of note is a tale of Juan Bobo that is included in this collection. Juan Bobo has entertained children and adults for more than five centuries with his antics and absent-mindedness. While Juan Bobo is well known by many, ‘The Bird of One Thousand Colors’ is a story that Alma Flor Ada was unable to trace to an original source, although she remembers being told the story by her grandmother.  Throughout the collection, culturally accurate illustrations catch the eye with vivid colors and intricate details that convey aspects of the story. Each story leads naturally to the next, keeping alive the oral traditions of a rich culture that spans the continents.”  The authors’ note tells that this book was indeed written as a way to keep the abuelitas memory alive and pass on the stories they once told.  School Library Journal recommends the book for grades three and up. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Prietita and the Ghost Woman

“Though we tremble bChildren's Book Review: Prietita and the Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldúa | Vamos a Leerefore uncertain futures/ may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength/ may we dance in the face of our fears.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Saludos, everyone! This week I will be reviewing another rendition of the Hispanic legend of La Llorona, continuing to draw from this month’s themes. Our featured book for the week is Prietita and the Ghost Woman, written by Gloria Anzaldúa and illustrated by Christina Gonzalez. Anzaldúa creates a feminist adaptation of the Hispanic legend by featuring strong, female protagonists, and portraying La Llorona as a benevolent spirit, rather than a haunting ghost. The female relationships in the story are loving and respectful, and women of all different ages look out for each other in a lovely constellation of female alliances.

Children's Book Review: Prietita and the Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldúa | Vamos a LeerThe story is written in English with a Spanish translation on each page, as well as Spanish words peppered throughout the English text. When interspersing Spanish words, Anzaldúa has taken care to provide translations or context clues for English-language readers. For example, when Prietita asks Doña Lola for help, Doña Lola replies, “I’m sorry, mijita, I’m sorry, my child, but I’ve used up all the ruda I had and none of the neighbors grow it.Continue reading

Book Giveaway: Arrullos de la sirena, The Rooster who went to his Uncle’s Wedding, The Three Golden Oranges, The Lizard and the Sun/La lagartija y el sol, Rosa Raposa!

Good afternoon, everyone!

I want to start by saying thank you to all who continue to comment each week and by saying congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway!  This week, we are giving away a bit of a bigger package.  This week’s giveaway includes Alma Flor Ada’s Arrullos de la sirena, The Rooster who went to his Uncle’s Wedding, The Three Golden Oranges, The Lizard and the Sun/La lagartija y el sol, and F. Isabel Campoy’s Rosa Raposa.

Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Arrullos de la sirena, The Rooster who went to his Uncle’s Wedding, The Three Golden Oranges, The Lizard and the Sun/La lagartija y el sol, Rosa Raposa!The first book, the very recently published, Arrullos de la sirena, written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Jairo Linares Landinez, is a collection of rhyming verses, written in Spanish, which “captures the sheer joy felt upon the birth of a child.”  According to the Amazon description for the book, “The musicality of the poems makes them ideal for reading aloud.  Each one will evoke imagery for older children while being as soothing as a lullaby for younger ones.”  Great for all ages and quick to read, this book would make a great addition to any bilingual or Spanish speaking classroom! Continue reading

Book Giveaway: The Gold Coin PLUS Alma Flor’s Narration (CD)!

Good afternoon, everyone!

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway and thank you to all who commented!  This week, you can win Alma Flor Ada’s The Gold Coin and her narration of it on CD!  Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: The Gold Coin PLUS Alma Flor’s Narration (CD)!The Gold Coin was written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Neil Waldman.  This book has received many awards and recognitions such as the Christopher Award Medal and the American Book Sellers Association Pick of the Lists Award.  The description reads, “While it reads as a folktale, it is an original story.  Trying to steal Doña Josefa’s gold, Juan follows this generous curandera through the countryside.  In the process, he is affected by the beauty of the natural world around him, the goodwill of the people who work the fields, and the spirit of the healer he is pursuing.  Neil Waldman’s poetic watercolors sensitively convey the beauty and diversity of the Central American landscape, as well as the inner transformation that Juan undergoes.”  This book has been recommended for kindergarten through grade three by the School Library Journal and Sherylanne Wesley shared her idea for a vocabulary activity for the classroom after reading the story right on the description page linked above. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Maya’s Children: The Story of La Llorona

Children's Book Review: Maya's Children- The Story of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya | Vamos a Leer“It seemed the more I knew about people, the more I knew about the strange magic hidden in their hearts.” – Rudolfo Anaya

¡Saludos, todos! This month’s book reviews will explore the significance of death by looking at stories about Día de los Muertos and La Llorona. In the process, we’ll open a conversation about what death means in Mexico and emphasize why that discussion is relevant to our classrooms – namely, because students deserve a safe space in which to discuss loss and grieving. This topic is one way to offer them that opportunity.

We’ve tied together the celebration of Día de los Muertos and the myth of La Llorona because they both come from Mexican culture and address concepts of loss; however, we want to emphasize that they are not otherwise related. Although it would be easy to conflate the two topics given their similarities, we advise against this. Día de los Muertos and La Llorona are better viewed as two separate topics tied together by commonalities. October is an opportune time to broach the topic of death and loss given that Día de los Muertos is not far off (November 1 and 2).

Children's Book Review: Maya's Children- The Story of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya | Vamos a LeerWe start the month by featuring the children’s book Maya’s Children: The Story of La Llorona, written by New Mexican author Rudolfo Anaya and illustrated by Maria Baca. Anaya’s adaptation portrays La Llorona as a sympathetic figure whose haunting spirit reflects the enduring memories of love and loss. Continue reading

Book Giveaway: The Malachite Palace, Jordi’s Star, The Unicorn of the West, AND Alma Flor’s Narration of Them (CD)!

Good afternoon, everyone!

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway and thank you to all who commented!  This week, you can win three of Alma Flor Ada’s books and her narration of them on CD!  The three books are The Malachite Palace, Jordi’s Star, and The Unicorn of the West.

Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: The Malachite Palace/Jordi’s Star/The Unicorn of the West/AND Alma Flor’s Narration of Them (CD)!The first of the three, The Malachite Palace, was written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Leonid Gore.  The book description reads “This original fairy tale celebrates the importance of freedom and the need to take responsibility for one’s own freedom.  Although the queen, the governess, and the lady-in-waiting all believe that the young princess is too delicate and refined to play with the neighborhood children, the princess herself decides otherwise.”  The School Library Journal recommends the book for children in pre-school up to grade three (ages four to eight years old).  On the same page with the book descriptions on Alma Flor’s website, there is a coloring page that you could print out and have the students color after reading the story together. Continue reading

Book Giveaway: Me llamo María Isabel/My Name is María Isabel

Good afternoon, everyone!

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway and thank you to all who commented!  TVamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Me llamo María Isabel/My Name is María Isabelhis week, you can win Alma Flor Ada’s book, Me llamo María Isabel, and the English translation, My Name is María Isabel.  According to Alma Flor’s website, this book tells the story of “María Isabel, a Hispanic child growing up in the U.S., [who] begins having problems in her new classroom when her teacher changes her name to Mary. This compelling portrait of an experience common to many language minority children inspires discussions on self-identity and biculturalism.”  School Library Journal suggests this book for grades three and four. Continue reading