¡Mira, Look!: Pasando páginas / Turning Pages: My Life Story

Queridos lectores,

Continuing with our celebration of Women’s History Month, the next book we have chosen is Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. This autobiographical children’s book is actually written by Sotomayor and is illustrated by the award-winning Puerto Rican author and illustrator, Lulu Delacre. It is also available as a Spanish edition, Pasando páginas: La historia de mi vida.

The book opens with a description of Sotomayor’s bilingual and bi-worldly upbringing. Since childhood, she had to balance both English and Spanish, both New York where she was born, and Puerto Rico where her parents came from. Sotomayor’s story reflects in this way the story of many other girls who grew up in the Bronx, or in other parts of the world, whose parents are migrants, and grow up hearing of places that maybe they themselves have never been to. But still, they share a profound love for this plac; it constitutes a part of their own story and imaginary, and they have inherited a type of longing for it.

Sotomayor’s memories of family gatherings and her grandmother reciting nostalgic poems about her home in a faraway island, marked the beginning of her love for words. Through hardships and different life experiences, books were her constant friend, marking a path of discovery of our world, and of fictional ones.

This book shows us a complicated and beautifully interwoven narrative of struggle, sorrow, a child’s encounter with hardship, the powerful impact that family has in our lives, and the importance of books and education. Lulu Delacre’s illustrations entwines images of book pages with that of life experiences, and at one a point in the story the steps that Sotomayor takes towards a court house and her future as justice, are book pages.

 “every book I ever read took me the next step I needed to go in school and in life”

The love she has for them is all around her. Sotomayor mentions two particularly important books. In school she learned the importance of laws for society after reading Lord of the Flies, and about compassion and when she read the Bible. For her, “books were lenses, bringing into focus truths about the world around me.” An idea that goes hand in hand with the illustrations. Sometimes they show a landscape or a building and as a lens or a zoom, the image of Sotomayor’s story, which gives us the feeling of her life being one marked by a multitude of experiences.

 Turning Pages shows us the many pieces of the puzzle that make up Sotomayor’s story, marked by a feeling of wanderlust, resilience, and love of family. Before the story begins, and after it ends, there are several photos that show us her life. At the beginning there are pictures of her as a child and at the end pictures of her professional life and, in both, she is sharing moments with friends and family.

For more information about the book, watch this PBS interview with Sotomayor and this book trailer video.

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina



Citation: All the above images were done by Lulu Delacre, and are from the book Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor.

¡Mira, Look!: Dreamers/Soñadores

Queridos lectores,



In February we celebrate different kinds of love, and we can think of no better way to do it than by reading Dreamers by Mexican author, Yuyi Morales. This beautiful children’s book, which is available in Spanish as well as Soñadores, tells Morales’ own history of immigrating from Xalapa, Mexico, to the United States.

The book centers around a young mother and her infant son who struggle to understand the new place in which they find themselves, and the language – which they do not speak. From the first page, love of self, of family, and of language compel the characters forward. A poetic voice and striking imagery guide the reader through new beginnings and discovery.

The illustrations are much like the story, captivating and bittersweet. Through the contrast of colorful drawings depicting culture and identity, over a grey and brown background, we can experience the feeling of traveling to a new, unfamiliar, and at times unwelcoming world, while carrying our own.

One of Morales several gifts for her readers is that she shows us both the light and darkness embedded in immigration stories. She does not shy away from hardship and struggle, which does come with parting ways with our homes or with our country. However, Morales also draws on her own story’s resiliency and agency.

One of the illustrations show a young mother in a colorful dress and her son entering an unfamiliar and opaque city, while the clouds above them reveal hidden messages: “Say something,” “What?” “Speak English.” Messages that the mother stares at in sadness. Under the same sky, a banner with the letters “Give thanks” stand in front of them, making the reader feel a tension between what is publicized and portrayed in society vs what immigrants experience in their everyday lives.

Nevertheless, light emerges at the end of this metaphorical tunnel when both characters make a life changing discovery: the public library. A place where books become their guiding friends and a source of wonder. Color starts returning to the pages until it becomes prominent. Images, drawings, animals, and books share the page happily in front of mother and son enjoying the magic of a written world. The background is still brown and grey, but color becomes a protagonist. Closing the story with a message of agency and hope of having found a home and a voice in two languages.

“We are stories. We are two languages. We are lucha. We are resilience. We are hope.”

Morales concludes the book with an author’s note to provide young readers with the parallels to her own history. In sharing so openly, she calls upon her readers to share their own stories, urging them to recognize the value in their own voices:

 “Now I have told you my story. What’s yours?”

We hope that this book might encourage young readers to do just that: to relish their own stories and to speak their own truths. It is with our warmest recommendation that we encourage you to make space for this book front and center on your shelves.

For those who may want to know more about Morales and this work:

 Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina


Citation: All the above images have been included and modified from the book Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.

¡Mira, Look!: Xóchitl, la niña de las flores

¡Hola a todos de nuevo!

Hoy vamos a hablar de Xóchitl, la niña de las flores del autor Jorge Argueta y el ilustrador Carl Angel, asentados ambos artistas en la ciudad de San Francisco y alrededores. Si te gustaron nuestras críticas pasadas, acompáñanos y déjate llevar por otra bonita historia en español, de esas que adquieren tanto más sentido cuando se cuentan en nuestra propia lengua.

3Xóchitl, la niña de las flores es una historia de superación ofrecida simultáneamente en español e inglés, que enfatiza la importancia de la comunidad, y es contada a través de la mirada inocente de una niña salvadoreña en San Francisco, muy muy lejos del país y la cultura que la vieron nacer. La historia se desarrolla circularmente desde un momento inicial donde el papá y la mamá de Xóchitl [Xochi] trabajan arduamente para salir adelante, pintando casas o trabajando de lo que encuentra y limpiando casas respectivamente. La mamá de Xóchitl también se dedica a vender flores frescas por el barrio, ayudada en ocasiones por su hija.

Ambas disfrutan mucho vendiendo flores juntas, por lo que saltan de alegría cuando el papá les propone mudarse a otra casa con patio trasero y convertir este en un vivero para sus queridas flores. Cuando la comunidad se vuelca en ayudarlos y en crear un espacio limpio y bonito, listo para que vengan a vivir las flores y las plantas, don Roberto, el dueño del lugar, aparece amenazando con denunciarles a las autoridades por entretener a toda clase de gente en una zona residencial.4

Y es aquí donde entra en juego el sostén de la comunidad, la fuerza resultante de algo más que la suma de todos los elementos, que se pondrá de acuerdo para convencer al dueño de las ventajas de tener un vivero en vez de un basurero. La historia, pasado este mal trago, cierra su ciclo con el acercamiento de la familia de Xóchitl y don Roberto.

Una vez más la inocencia es el hilo conductor de esta historia de final feliz sí, pero con una pátina de valores como el esfuerzo y la superación personal que trasciende, dejándose llevar por detalles preciosistas incrustados en vivencias que reflejan ese impulso tan humano de seguir hacia delante en cualquier circunstancia. El Salvador se menciona como una nebulosa de recuerdos que no hacen sino transportarnos a San Francisco, a miles de kilómetros; una ciudad con fuerte presencia de emigrantes—muchos de ellos hispanoamericanos, pero parte inevitable de un país con una lengua y una cultura diferentes.2

De una forma casi magnética, el libro nos invita a mirar a nuestros vecinos y preguntarnos qué hay más allá de lo superficial. Nos invita a cultivar nuestro respeto por los demás y a regar con abundante agua fresca las relaciones en comunidad. Porque la vida de barrio es un bonito microcosmos, un jardín en el que plantar esas flores que son personas y relaciones, y que perfectamente podrían echar sus raíces a nivel macro. Quizá universalizar nuestros barrios sea una manera de superar tanto individualismo.

El autor Jorge Argueta se inspiró en una historia real del barrio de Mission District en la ciudad de San Francisco para escribir Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, y se lo dedica cariñosamente a todas las arduas trabajadoras que venden flores en las calles para sacar adelante a sus hijos. Este poeta y profesor nacido en El Salvador lleva en San Francisco desde los años 1980, tiempo durante el cual ha tenido oportunidad de escribir otros libros como Una película en mi almohada, ganador en 2002 del Premio Américas a la Literatura Latinoamericana y el IPPY por Ficción Multicultural para el público juvenil.

Por su parte, el ilustrador Carl Angel, tiene en su haber obras como Lakas and the Manilatown Fish o Mga Kuwentong Bayan: Folk Stories from the Philippines. En su caso su contribución también está dedicada a la gente de Mission District.

Recursos relacionados y enfocados en la aplicación educativa para la promoción de los valores de respeto, esfuerzo y unión de la comunidad:

¡Espero que os haya gustado la recomendación literaria de hoy!

Nos vemos en unos días para seguir echando nuestra imaginación a volar y de paso reflexionar sobre el papel que queremos desempeñar en nuestras sociedades.

Santi

¡Mira, Look!: Malaika’s Costume

Buenos días!

We are excited to be back with our book reviews. Throughout the semester we will be interweaving book reviews in both English and Spanish, between our new blog member, Santi, and me. Santi will be writing reviews in Spanish, and I will be writing them in English. Since it’s February, the month of love, we will start by bringing you book reviews surrounding the theme of love for community.

Today we are excited to bring you a review of Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. This book is an Honorable Mention recipient of the 2017 Américas Award. It tells the story of Malaika, a young girl in Jamaica living with her granny while her mummy works in Canada to provide for them. In the story, Malaika is struggling with not having a costume for carnival, one of the most exciting festivals in her town. Malaika’s worries and frustrations with the costume are interwoven with missing her mummy, struggling to allow her granny to fill that motherly role, and optimistic expectations of no longer having financial issues since her mummy is working in Canada. In the end, Malaika and her granny find a resolution and Malaika dances beautifully in Carnival.

Luxbacher’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. I appreciated Malaika’s imaginative rendering of cold and snowy Canada, and how it contrasts her warm and colorful Jamaican hometown. The imaginative aspect of the illustrations mirrors Malaika’s personality. Hohn’s book as a whole explains important issues that countless children face with parents working from afar to provide for their families.

Also, her description of complex relationships from a child’s perspective is refreshing and necessary within today’s multicultural society. Furthermore, Malaika’s day-to-day interactions with neighbors and extended family members give us cultural insight to life in small-town Jamaica. Hohn includes definitions of different words she uses for understanding the cultural context of the text, including explanations of different types of music, instruments, characters and foods. Although the story is told from Malaika’s point of view, the last page’s illustration allows us to place her mother within the story, and better understand her love for her daughter.

I highly recommend checking out Nadia Hohn’s biography on her website. Nadia’s passion for children’s book diversity led her to publish Malaika’s Costume.

She teaches French, music, and the arts at the Africentric Alternative School where she has been an inaugural staff member since its opening in 2009.  She has taught in Toronto public schools since 2003. Out of her classroom and personal experiences, Hohn crafted edited two literary resources for teaching about Black heritage to grades 4-8, titled SANKOFA, which could be great for teaching this month, given that we are entering Black Heritage Month. Out of the resources in the guide, the SANKOFA Music book would pair well with Malaika’s Costume. While the music book must be purchased, Hohn also offers a number of free strategies for how to engage students with Malaika’s story.

Teachers interested in using this book with their students might also turn to the Smithsonian’s educator materials, particularly their lesson plan (grades 3-5), titled “The Sounds of an Island: Jamaican Music for the Classroom.” You can also explore excerpts of calypso rock songs by the famous Jamaican calypsonians, Horace Johnson & The Eagle Star, on the Smithsonian Folkways site. For quick reference, here is a full audio recording of Horace Johnson’s music. These resources pair with Malaika’s Costume given that this colorful children’s book is as much about music and dance as it is about family. During the Carnival celebrations that inspired the book, the street is full of soca and calypso – musical traditions that are explained on the website for the Trinidad and Tobago’s National Library and Information System.

If you enjoyed this book, we recommend that you check out the sequel, Malaika’s Winter Costume. Here is a promotional video for the sequel, which shows photos of Carnival in Jamaica.

Saludos,

Kalyn

 


Images Modified From Malaika’s Costume: Pages 3, 7, 29, 30

September 15th | Week in Review

2017-09-15-WWW-01-01¡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.

Rethinking Education shares why Spanish Fluency in the U.S. decreases with each generation. “About 88 percent of Latinos ages 5 to 17 in 2014 said they either speak only English at home or speak English ‘very well,’ compared with 73 percent in 2000.”

–Rethinking Education also posted 9 Bilingual Children’s Books That Make Learning a New Language Easy, a list catered specifically to Spanish teachers.

–For those of you teaching middle or high school history, Rethinking Schools shared Justice for Dreamers- Punish the Authors of Forced Migration, an article that explains how foreign policies creates forced migration.“The perpetrators of the “crime” are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive

— Lastly, Remezcla featured Google latest initiative, which involved the launch of  One of the Largest Digital Collections of Latino Art and History. “The collection features more than 2,500 pieces of art through 90 exhibits.”

Abrazos
Alin Badillo

Voces: Affirmation and Validation in the Aftermath of the Election

In the aftermath of the election I struggled to think of what I could write that related to books. As much as I love books, they seemed all of the sudden insignificant, a resource incapable of addressing and/or combating the stories of hatred and hurt I was hearing in the news and on social media.

Books do not possess magical fixing capacities. It follows that they are not going to fix the deeply embedded “isms” in our society. Yet, I find myself turning to books for solace – in search of alternative realities, inspiration or affirmation.

As a white blonde woman, affirmation in books is relatively easy to find. However, in this moment in time it is not I who needs to find this affirmation and validation. I stand by my friends and fellow students – whose communities have been the target of repeated insults and mounting hate crimes – in search of ways to amplify their voices over mine, to affirm and validate their experiences.

Continue reading

Reading Roundup: 10 Latino Children’s Books Celebrating the Natural World

Aprils 2016 Reading Roundup¡Buenos días!

In celebration of Earth Day, this month I have put together a list of books involving Latin America and the natural world. While creating this list, I was continually thinking about our everyday interactions with nature. This month is the perfect time for openly and beautifully reflecting on what it means to interact with the earth, and I hope that these books will provide a platform to do so. These books are a celebration of the natural world, including plants, animals, the sun and the sky. In addition, they draw connections to conservation, life cycles, food and medicines. I hope everyone finds them inspiring!

¡Saludos!
Kalyn

Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Collages by Susan L. Roth
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620140048
Age Level: 6-11

Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. . . . These are Puerto Rican parrots. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever.

Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future. Woven into the parrots’ story is a brief history of Puerto Rico itself, from before the first human settlers to the present day.

With striking collage illustrations, a unique format, and engaging storytelling, Parrots Over Puerto Rico invites readers to witness the amazing recovery efforts that have enabled Puerto Rican parrots to fly over their island once again.

My thoughts:
I absolutely loved this book, and it is perfect for teaching Earth Day! Roth’s collages are incredibly captivating and I could not help but take time looking at their details. This book ties the history of the Puerto Rican parrots to the history of Puerto Rico itself, therefore teaching about the effect that actions in history have on the environment. Just like Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism and becoming a commonwealth state of the United States, the Puerto Rican parrots have had a difficult history, and they have survived and continue to persevere. This book also tells about the need for intervention in order to prevent the extinction of the parrots by depicting human efforts to save the parrots. It tells in detail the processes that scientists and conservationists have taken towards saving these birds, and at the end of the book there are photos of the efforts with nonfictional descriptions. In addition, Lee & Low Books has a guide for educators that I encourage you to check out! Continue reading

WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the Monarch

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Whether you’re joining for the first time or you stop by frequently, thanks for checking out my post this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations of Día de los Muertos, I wanted to highlight one small detail involved in the holiday that sometimes gets overlooked: the Monarch migration!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the MonarchThese butterflies fly south for the winter, sometimes over 100 miles per day as they migrate from the United States to southern Mexico.  The Monarch Butterflies are a small detail among many in the celebration of Día de los Muertos; however, this detail is of particular importance because many people believe the butterflies migrating are the souls of their ancestors returning to celebrate the holiday with them.

In recognition of this belief, this week’s World Wide Web post brings you a few different resources – all of which are available on the same website!  The first resource is a Teacher’s Guide to teaching about the Monarch Butterfly.  The guide explains the background of the Monarch migration and the cultural importance of the migration.  It includes many activities for the classroom, such as a slideshow (available in English and Spanish) that explains many aspects of the traditional celebration of Día de los Muertos, topics for discussion in the classroom, and research ideas for students.  There is also a Resource list with links to more information on how the celebrations of Día de los Muertos take place and some of the foods that are made in preparation.  It would be great to make Pan de los Muertos for a classroom cultural celebration!  Aside from the Teacher’s Guide emphasized here, the website includes a great deal of information about Monarch Butterflies in general, including updated maps on the butterflies’ travels and news of their progress.  The section titled Kids includes many resources for students to interact with, such as charts about the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and the importance of its migration.  It would be a great resource to work with in the classroom to highlight themes of tradition, migration, and the benefits of cross-country movement. Continue reading

WWW: Lost in Immigrationlandia

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

I hope you all enjoyed the documentary I featured on WWW last week!  This week, in keeping with the themes of immigration and resources to honor and understand Latin American cultural influences and experiencesVamos a Leer | WWW: Lost in Immigrationlandia, I am featuring an online source that will serve as a good supplement to the documentary, The Dream is Now.  The website is called Lost in Immigrationlandia and it highlights the stories of two young men, Alex and Cristhian, who migrated to the United States from Guatemala and Honduras, respectively.  Their stories illustrate the many reasons they left their countries in the first place and tell of the obstacles they faced in getting to the United States.  Once they arrived, the stories illustrate how the boys were received in the States and taken to holding cells or detention centers nicknamed “The Freezers.” Continue reading

11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration

2014-08-10_ImmigrationOne of the most pressing issues everyone is addressing right now is immigration and migration between the US and Latin America.  Here at Vamos a Leer, our thoughts, too, have been dwelling on the topic more than usual.

Jill Eisenberg at Lee & Low Books also has clearly been thinking about it.  She’s scoured the internet and put together a fantastic list of free resources to help educators teach children about Latin American immigration and migration.  It’s such a great list of resources that we wanted to share it with you.  In addition, if this is something which interests you, we also advise checking out Jill’s other recent post about 11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration.

Continue reading