¡Hola a todos! I am very excited to start sharing resources again with you all.
– Latinos in Kid Lit has just launched a new series called “Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors.” They’re kicking it off with a feature on Margarita Engle, the Young People’s Poet Laureate. Check it out to hear her describe the birth of her passion for writing.
¡Hola a todos! This week I found interesting resources, I hope you enjoy!
– You might appreciate Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s book-length essay, Tell Me How It Ends, if you are teaching about Central American migration, and especially about child migrants. “Until it is safer for undocumented folks to share their own stories, to argue on their own behalf, Luiselli makes for a trusted guide.”
This is a review of one of last spring’s featured books. I got a little behind, so I decided to wait to share it until we were back posting regularly. It actually worked out better than I could have hoped because this book pairs up so well with our September featured novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. They’re both written in a journal or diary like confessional style, but this one has two male protagonists, while Gabi has a female protagonist. It’d be great to have your class read both and do a comparative analysis.
He Forgot to Say Goodbye
Written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published by Simon and Schuster 2010
ISBN: Age Level: 12 and Up
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don’t appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called “Dizzy Land.” His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. An only child, he is a misfit in his mother’s shallow and materialistic world. But Ram and Jake do have one thing in common: They are lost boys who have never met their fathers. This sad fact has left both of them undeniably scarred and obsessed with the men who abandoned them. As Jake and Ram overcome their suspicions of each other, they begin to move away from their loner existences and realize that they are capable of reaching out beyond their wounds and the neighborhoods that they grew up in. Their friendship becomes a healing in a world of hurt.
La línea Written by Ann Jaramillo Published by Roaring Book Press, 2006 ISBN: 9780312373542 Age Level: 10 and up
Miguel’s life is just beginning. Or so he thinks. Fifteen-year-old Miguel leaves his rancho deep in Mexico to migrate to California across la línea, the border, in a debut novel of life-changing, cliff-hanging moments. But Miguel’s carefully laid plans change suddenly when his younger sister Elena stows away and follows him. Together, Miguel and Elena endure hardships and danger on their journey of desperation and desire, loyalty and betrayal. An epilogue, set ten years after the events of the story, shows that you can’t always count on dreams–even the ones that come true.
La Línea is about the journey of two young teenagers trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to be reunited with their family in California. It’s an incredibly poignant and moving novel. The trip North is hard for Miguel and Elena, and it’s not always easy to read about what the two had to endure. I certainly cried through a number of parts. It’s difficult to read about how dehumanizing and traumatic the experience is. While it’s fiction, it’s based on the lived experiences of some of Jaramillo’s own students. Knowing how close the story is to the accounts of many immigrants makes the reading even more intense. Jaramillo manages to communicate the danger, violence, and sacrifice while avoiding overdramatizing the emotions, which allows the story to remain accessible both to students who have had similar experiences as well as those who haven’t. Continue reading →
We’re almost back from our summer hiatus, but wanted to post this announcement for our first book group meeting of the new school year. We are so excited for the upcoming year! I’m really looking forward to talking with you all about this month’s selection.
Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is. Continue reading →
As we are aware, immigration is a complex issue. Sometimes, it can mean leaving behind one’s family, and other times, it can mean losing one’s family. As many people clamor to cross the border looking toward a new future in the North, they embark upon dangerous journeys. Not all survive this journey, and this is a reality that families must face on both sides of the border. Thus, we turn to a book that discusses this subject and describes the tale of one child who lost everything while going through this journey, gained a new family, and then had to reconcile with how he would continue in the journey of life. This week, we will be discussing Laura Resau’s Red Glass.
Red Glass follows a young woman, Sophie, who goes to the hospital with her parents one day. There, they meet a little boy, Pedro, who traveled along with his parents and coyote across the dessert and into Arizona. When he is discovered, he is found severely dehydrated, the lone survivor of the trip. Thus, Pedro goes to live with Sophie and her family. Nearly a year later, Pedro’s family in Mexico makes contact with him, which leads to a trip home and a decision for Pedro to make. Continue reading →
In this age, it is not uncommon for people to constantly migrate. Whether it be from town to town, city to city, state to state, or country to country, it is a fact that many people are migrants. Thus, we want to kick off our immigration theme with a book for middle grade (grades 3-7) readers that discusses how migration, even if it is just one’s family or friends that leave, can impact one’s identity. This week, we will be discussing Alma Flor Ada’s Love, Amalia(or Con cariño, Amalia).
In this book, Amalia is a young girl who lives in Chicago. One day, she learns that her best friend, Martha, will be moving to California with her family. Amalia, who is already close to her grandmother, develops a closer relationship with her Abuelita. She learns a considerable amount about her family and Mexican heritage from her. Most importantly, she is Amalia’s biggest source of comfort. When Amalia loses Abuelita, she is sad. However, she begins to realize that she was lucky to have been able to know her grandmother as well as she did. Continue reading →
Over the past several weeks, we have discussed how civil rights impact all people. This week, we would like to turn to a book written by Margarita Engle that puts a different spin on the idea of civil rights. All minority groups have had to fight for their rights, and this includes women. It is also important to note that the fight for civil rights is not specific to the United States. Nearly all countries in Latin America have seen similar movements by minority groups–and these struggles are not necessarily recent. This is evident in Engle’s The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba, a book discussing the women’s rights movement in Cuba in the 19th century.
This book, written in prose, is most suitable for middle grade readers. It tells the story of Fredrika Bremer, a real life suffragette, from Swedish. Engle chronicles Bremer’s real life trip to Cuba in 1851 in this historical fiction. Elena, the daughter of Bremer’s wealthy host family, and Cecelia, a slave, join Bremer in her journey through the Cuban countryside. Engle chronicles the journey of these women and their personal development throughout the book. The Firefly Letters is a 2011 Pura Belpre Honor Book for Narrative. Continue reading →
One of the staples of our fall curriculum is Christopher Columbus. After all, Columbus was a historical figure whom we were all taught to love because without him, we would not have America–and he had cool wooden ships that we could build and put into bottles! However, by now, we all know that Columbus and his legacy leave much deeper implications than just “discovering America.” I mean, just think of that phrase for a moment. Was America lost prior to 1492? And what did he find? New York? Well, following with some of our previous work on Rethinking Columbus, this week’s post will focus on recent scholarship of Columbus’s voyage, what the Americas were like, and how we can disburse this information more appropriately to our students. Continue reading →