For this week’s En la Clase, I’m sharing our review of Separate is Never Equal, one of this year’s Americas Award Winners. It’s a great book to explore themes of love of self, love of family, and love of community, while also teaching about an often overlooked but important piece of the Civil Rights Movement.
In next week’s En la Clase, I’ll share the free educator’s guide created for the book.
Separate is Never Equal
Written and Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2014
Age Level: 7-12
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
There are a number of reasons why Duncan Tonatiuh’s book, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, is so important. In writing it, he did something that no one else has. No other children’s picture book on the Mendez case exists. Moreover, the book is well-researched and compellingly illustrated. By drawing on primary source documents, court transcripts, and interviews with Sylvia Mendez herself, Tonatiuh has created an important historical book for younger and older children alike. Continue reading