Saludos todos! This week we are concluding the month of March, Women’s History Month, with a sweet, heart-warming tale about a girl, her grandma, and the company of a pet parrot. This week’s book, Mango, Abuela and Me (ages 4-7), written by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez, narrates the beautiful relationship between two generations of women, and the way in which their love and familial bond ultimately surmounts their linguistic and cultural barriers. When the protagonist, Mia’s “far-away Abuela,” comes to live with them in the United States, Mia has to find a way to establish a relationship with her grandmother. Despite Mia’s Spanish not being good enough “to tell her the things an Abuela should know,” and Abuela’s English being “too pequito,” the two find a way to surpass these difficulties and conquer intercultural barriers through love, loyalty, and creativity. While exploring the intercultural challenges that many bicultural children face, this story also celebrates the day-to-day influence of positive, loving women in the lives of young children. Although many of our previous books for this month focused on extolling and celebrating larger-than-life women, this book takes us to a more familiar place: the sweet and simple experiences of an intergenerational family.
The beginning of the story introduces Mia’s Abuela who comes to stay with the family, “leaving behind her sunny house that rested between two snaking rivers.” Although her home country is never named, readers can assume by her knowledge of Spanish that she is from Latin America. Additionally, the description of water and a warm climate may lead readers to assume that she is specifically from the Caribbean. Nonetheless, the lack of specificity enables a variety of readers from a variety of backgrounds to identify with Mia and her “far-away” Abuela. Although, of course, the immigrant experience is different for everyone, this book captures many of the familiar struggles of adapting to a new language and new home. Even I, for example, having a grandmother who lives in France, can identify with this story and the perplexing contradictions of familial closeness and cultural dissonance.
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thank you for joining me today! Somehow this week escaped me and so I don’t have such a long post for you. I did, however, manage to find this video from The Guardian that showcases some important women from all over the world who are making a difference in the lives of the people around them hoy en día.
We think this video ties in the themes of activism and important women in history, and could be used in class with older groups to discuss changes students wish they could see in their own worlds. Join me again next week for a longer post on women’s rights in South America, Berta Cáceres, and the Zika Virus!
With warmest wishes,
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Don’t look now but we’ve already arrived in March! Three months into the new year and we are shifting from Black History to Herstory. As a starting point for the month, I thought it might be nice to open with a post that highlights many of the important Latin American women in history that could make their way into your classrooms this month! In this resource, Paola Capó-García collects brief histories of each of the several important women she introduces.
Aside from the ever popular Frida Kahlo and Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, whom we have discussed on the blog in years past, the featured resource also introduces less cited women in Latin American history, like Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. Tying into our theme of activism in Latin America, Las Madres were the women in Argentina during the “Dirty Wars” who protested the disappearance of their children and grandchildren in front of the presidential palace. Continue reading
Saludos, todos! We are concluding this month’s theme of books on Haiti with a historical treat from the late Haitian artist and writer, François Turenne des Près (1907-1990), who is considered one of Haiti’s greatest painters. After his death in 1990, his son, Josquin des Près, uncovered his father’s collection of Haitian folktales and decided to compile the materials into a collection of stories for children. He complemented the stories with paintings of everyday Haitian life which his father had produced throughout his lifetime. According to a review by Publisher’s Weekly, “The legacy of the late Haitian artist and writer Turenne Des Près (1907-1990) is vibrantly preserved in this beautifully produced collection of 12 folktales. The stories, originally published in Haiti in 1949 without illustrations, are paired here with paintings culled from the more than 300 works executed by Turenne Des Pres.”
Although this book is meant for children, adults will also enjoy its amazing historical import. As stated by Publisher’s Weekly, “The book has the sophisticated feel of a museum catalogue, yet it is zesty enough to maintain a child’s attention.” For younger readers, it would be best as a read-aloud; older children may want to read it independently. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
I am so happy you are reading today because I am showcasing a great resource from Teaching for Change, which is another blogging site full of great teaching guides and supporting resources for the classroom. This week, to honor our themes of Afro-Caribbean cultures, Black History Month, Haiti, love and community, I am highlighting their resource for Teaching about Haiti. Because of all the supporting documents available through the page, this resource makes including Haiti in classroom discussion even easier! According to Teaching for Change, “It is important for students to gain a deeper understanding of the history and the roots of…Haiti. The U.S has been involved with Haiti for centuries, yet it has received little attention in textbooks or the curriculum. Part of our commitment to the people of Haiti can be to not only increase our support but also our awareness. As informed citizens, we can advocate for respectful and constructive relations with Haiti in the months and years ahead.” Continue reading
Saludos, todos! Our featured book for this week is Sélavi / That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope, written and illustrated by Youme. This creative non-fiction book tells the story of young orphan children living in Haiti. Left parent-less due to fighting, violence, and poverty, these children band together and become a family of their own. This beautiful tale of love, compassion and goodwill narrates the real-life story of an orphan boy, Sélavi, and other children like him who created their own orphanage, extending a hand to all those other children in need. Eventually these same orphaned children began a radio show called Radyo Timoun, where they, to this day, advocate for children’s rights.
At the back of the book is an essay written by Edwidge Danticat, one of the most prominent and prolific contemporary Haitian writers, sharing some personal experiences and historical context to frame Youme’s story. As many of you know, we frequently feature Danticat’s books on our blog. In this particular essay, she notes that “My birthplace, Haiti, is a land of incredible beauty, but for many, it is also a place of great sadness.” Youme’s tale does a lovely job of embodying these two dualities—the laments of many of Haiti’s children, as well as their inspiring courage, hope and beauty.
Danticat also shares some historical facts: “In 1804, the slaves (of Haiti) revolted and won their independence, making Haiti the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere. Along with the American Revolution, Haiti’s was the only successful rebellion in North America.” Danticat’s essay continues with additional information on both Haiti’s history and contemporary Haiti, contributing a valuable component to this story and especially to the use of this story in the classroom. Finally, Danticat’s essay concludes with one final wish: “Being a child of Haiti myself, I can only hope that Sélavi’s story will be repeated in the lives of many other children, among them future writers, radio and television journalists, who will continue to tell—and show—their stories in such moving and powerful ways that the rest of the world will no longer be able to neglect them.” Youme’s story is one attempt at elevating and drawing attention to these children’s powerful stories. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thanks for joining me again this week! While this month has not been focused directly on activism, I have still been showcasing some resources on activism and Haiti, tying our themes from this month and the last together. My first two posts this year showed activism in forms that were different than the protesting we might immediately associate with the word. However, since we at Vamos a Leer are focusing on loving one another, community, and self-love, this week’s post will be focused on the Haitians and Haitian-American activists who are standing (quite literally) in protest with Dominicans of Haitian descent in the recent Dominican Republic-Haiti Deportation crisis. For those of you who have not heard about this, you can learn more from Michele Wucker’s article or from this NPR broadcast. This crisis, which involves the mass deportations of thousands of “Dominican-born Haitians,” or second/third generation Dominicans of Haitian lineage, is sparking upset globally. After spending this past summer learning Haitian Creole and visiting the country for myself, I am particularly invested in this topic. But more than anyone, Haitian and Haitian-American activists are upset and are taking a stand on the behalf of Dominican-born Haitians. Continue reading
Saludos, todos! This week’s featured book is Running the Road to ABC, written by Haitian author Denizé Lauture and illustrated by Reynold Ruffins. With stunning illustrations and compelling lyrical prose, this wonderful picture book tells the story of six Haitian children and the miles they travel to get to school. In doing so, Lauture’s tale takes readers on a visual and poetic journey of Haiti’s various landscapes, both geographical and social. While exposing some of the present-day hardships in Haiti, such as running barefoot over rough terrain to get to school, Lauture proudly depicts values such as strength, determination, and a love of learning.
Lauture introduces his book by dedicating it “To all children who, smiling and laughing,/ laughing and singing,/ singing and smiling,/ stand tall at the golden thresholds of their lives/ and welcome learning and teaching,/ and teaching and learning,/ as the two most endearing experiences in life.” A love and dedication to learning is certainly at the crux of this tale. As Lauture openly embraces the beauty in teaching and learning, his lovely, undulating prose is in itself didactic. Throughout the tale Lauture makes ample use of repetition and symmetrical sentence structures (such as “learning and teaching,/ and teaching and learning”), which can help young readers remember new vocabulary, keep up with the story, and witness the flexibility and playfulness of words. In addition, his long, flowing sentences tend to continue on and on without punctuation, reflecting the long and persistent, yet melodically joyful journey of the schoolchildren. Moreover, the lack of punctuation may reflect the cadence of Haitian Creole, which is generally not a written language. As a result, Lauture’s prose suggests a melody that would make the story perfect for reading out loud—a treat for listeners, and a celebration of Haiti’s rich oral tradition. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Another week has gone by already! And just like that, we are into February. Thanks for reading again. Hopefully 2016 has gone smoothly for everyone reading! I know we are feeling the pace increase a bit here.
As February takes hold, and many classrooms turn to studies of Black History and the Civil Rights Movement, we at Vamos a Leer are turning our focus to the history of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean people. In this post in particular, I am addressing (very briefly) the widespread history of slavery and its implications particularly within Haiti and other Caribbean countries.
Besides open immigration flows, there are people of African descent in every country in the Western Hemisphere in large measure because Africans were taken forcibly as slaves and transported from Africa to the Americas from the 15th to the 19th century, used as human barter in exchange for goods, spices, and outright income. As slaves, Africans were treated as goods; they were bought, sold, traded, beaten and killed for disobeying unjust rules and regulations set by their owners. Side bar: we acknowledge that this is a difficult topic to teach, but also want to emphasize how necessary it is to have these conversations in our classrooms. For a brief overview of what to keep in mind when teaching about slavery writ large, see the article “Tongue-Tied” by Teaching Tolerance. Continue reading
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! 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!
Image: Photo of Merry Navidad! Reproduced from Alma Flor’s website.