Book Giveaway: Vivir en dos idiomas and Yes! We are Latinos/¡Sí! Somos Latinos

Good afternoon, everyone!

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means! Today, we are congratulating Reina, our winner from last week, and we are ready to give away our second book package in the series. I am so excited to be kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month with this giveaway!

Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Vivir en dos idiomas and Yes! We are LatinosThis week, we have the memoria of Alma Flor Ada’s life, Vivir en dos idiomas, in which “Alma Flor shares with the adult reader the most important moments of her life: as a student,
teacher, mother, activist, author and professor. She shares with openness and sincerity, and her engaging style as a storyteller, the circumstances that transformed her life, her experiences living in four different countries, the people who influenced her development and the lessons learned from life.” The book incorporates many personal stories—from her childhood in Cuba to her experiences in the United States that initiated her support for peasant immigrants—and even highlights how she became a writer in the first place. Continue reading


WWW: The Powerful, Articulate and Eloquent Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Sor_Juana artTwo classroom lessons on ‘The First Great Latin American Poet’, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, are available on EDSITEment!  We saw Sor Juana at the center of Lorraine’s post earlier this week, and we were introduced to a young girl whose vivacious, voracious and eager appetite for knowledge and learning set her apart in the colonial period in which she was born. As a college student who often studies topics in Mexican history, I cannot emphasize enough how central a figure Sor Juana is, both historically and in the construction of Mexican National Identity.  Sor Juana’s life work speaks to the infinite complexity of the colonial period, a period we normally reduce to one of unabated suppression over minority and marginalized voices.  However, the more we study our colonial past, the more we realize that political and social agency (or power) did in fact exist within many marginalized communities and individuals.  As students living in the modern age, we may be surprised to see Sor Juana’s audaciousness and ability to carve out a place of academic autonomy for women in what is often thought of as the most restricting institution of all: the Church.  However, we can also think of Sor Juana as an artist, a genius, a mentor and a spirit dedicated to the betterment of her community, regardless of time period, religion or gender.  Needless to say, which ever way you decide to understand Sor Juana and her life’s work, it is difficult to ignore her remarkable and outstanding story.

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WWW: “Maestra” – The Cuban Literacy Campaign

Maestra - Ivonne - Adria - Santana

Ivonne and Adria Santana, 1961 – from the film “Maestra”

Today, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. This hasn’t always been the case. Prior to the revolution, census data identified nearly a quarter of Cuba’s population, mostly rural, as illiterate. Within a decade, that number dropped to less than 4 percent despite a substantial defection of school teachers to the United States. How?

In 1961, the revolutionary government initiated a program of mass participation, dispatching volunteer, young, literate Cubans to teaching assignments across the country. Rural families hosted this new generation of teachers (over a quarter million total) in their homes, and in exchange, the people of the countryside were taught to read and write. A culture of literacy was born on the island.

“Maestra” is a documentary (33 minutes) by Catherine Murphy, focusing particularly on the young girls who participated as teachers. The focus on young girls is interesting, as Cuba of the 1950s was dominated by a staunchly patriarchal family structure. Girls who wanted to participate had to enter an intense process of negotiation with their families—a process the filmmakers call a “teenage girl uprising.”  Continue reading

WWW: Take a Digital Trip Through Your Favorite Book

La-LecturaHello, all,

“La lectura es el viaje de los que no pueden tomar el tren,” said French playwright Francis de Croisset, according to the neat handwriting on the wall of a cafe in Buenos Aires.

And nowhere does that become more true than when using Google Lit Trips, a unique digital resource for educators that comes free of charge courtesy of one innovative educator and the free program Google EarthContinue reading

En la Clase: Celebrating Differences and Similarities-Exploring Identity

Today’s “En la Clase” is our last in a series of featured early elementary lesson plans whoever you areon topics such as teaching about race, culture, difference, acceptance, and respect.  If you missed them, be sure to check out the last two weeks’ posts on “Everybody is Unique: Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom” and “Multiculturalism: Learning About Different Cultures.”

This week’s unit, “Celebrating Differences and Similarities: Exploring Identity,” was written by Michelle White, a pre-service teacher in UNM’s Teacher Education Program.  Her lessons were written primarily for kindergarten students, but could be easily adapted for grades 1-3.  Like the other units, White’s lessons are perfect for the first part of the school year, offering an introduction to themes and issues that can continue to be explored through the year. Written as they are, the art activities are also great practice for our young students on following directions. Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Themed Book Lists: Indigenous Peoples & Rights

Photo from Flickr CC user: Casbr

Photo from Flickr CC user: Casbr

Hello readers! This week I wanted to give you some resources on teaching about indigenous peoples and rights. Sadly, unjustly and unfortunately, the stories, histories and struggles of Native peoples are left out of history, literature and culture. But their stories deserve to be heard, to be understood and cherished. Many children in our schools identify as a Native American, or a Native Central or South American, we owe it to them to enlighten ourselves to the resources available that showcase their culture and share it with their classmates. Not all of these books are award winners, but I will highlight the ones that are and the links are directly to the book’s Amazon page. Continue reading

WWW: Día de los niños booklist!

Poster from American Library Association can be found at

Poster from American Library Association can be found at

Tuesday, April 30, is El día de los niños.

El día was nearly three-quarters of a century old in Mexico, when, in 1996, it was appropriated in the United States and coupled with the name “El día de los libros” to promote the celebration of literacy.

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¡Mira Look!: Human Rights and Taste of Salt

a taste of salt2As we shift our focus from poetry to human rights, I found myself sadly unsurprised at the lack of great children’s and YA literature on human rights and Latin America. On the one hand, everything can be boiled down to human rights; and indeed, much of what we discuss on Vamos centers on the idea that one of those rights is the right to be in a diverse, culturally sensitive, exploration centered classroom, where all students see themselves and their future potential in the books they read, the stories they hear and the arts they craft. On the other hand, if everything is boiled down to human rights, does that take away some salience  from those pillars of Rights that everyone is entitled to? Or does discussing rights necessarily encompass all our daily interactions? Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Dark Dude

dark dude book coverWell, it’s that time of year again: we’ve decided the sun should get up and go to bed later, the birds have decided to chirp their twitterpated spirits, slowly the flowers are stretching their stems and UNM is rounding the corner for the final sprint to the end of another semester. At Vamos A Leer, we are finishing up our section on Race in YA Literature and will be moving on to Poetry in Latin American Literature. Really though, most of what we do is undergirded by the daily race trials that Latino-Americans walk through, so rightly so, we are never truly ‘done’ with race. Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

evelyn serranoAs our current Vamos A Leer theme, we’ve been discussing race in YA literature and I took my first book recommendation hot off the press from the 2013 Pura Belpré Award list. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano is the 2013 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book winner and it is well deserved. In this historical fiction novel, written in exciting, inviting and descriptive English with smatterings of Spanish (technical, slang and geographically specific) Manzano traces the lives of New York Puerto Ricans during the late 1960s when the Young Lords emphatically put their struggle into the public eye. Continue reading