Saludos todos and welcome to our first October book review!
As in the past several years, we’re using the month of October to reflect on the many ways in which death is honored, acknowledged, and remembered in different Latin American countries. Our monthly focus is prompted in part by the upcoming Día de los Muertos, but also more broadly by the seasonal shift into autumn – a time of transition and change.
Last year we used this opportunity to feature books that discussed Día de los Muertos celebrations and cautionary legends such as those about La Llorona. This year, however, we have decided to expand these themes to focus more loosely on death as a general concept — the experience of love and loss, the process of grief and healing, and, particularly, the ways in which educators can help students through these tough moments. This month our books will feature protagonists who experience grief, and identify books that explore the concept of death in different cultures. This last theme is the focus of today’s book, Light Foot/ Pies ligeros.
¡Hola a todos! I hope you have a good weekend. Enjoy the materials for this week. I know I had a really fun time gathering them. Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your thoughts.
– As the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s founding of International Literacy Day, we wanted to share with you The Literacy Project, where they honor past and present efforts to reduce literacy at a global scale.
– Our Américas Award friends shared on their Facebook page an important article that highlights the reality of diverse children’s book. BookRiot’s Justina Ireland questions “Where Are All the YA Books for Kids of Color: September Edition.”
— Also, on their Facebook page Teaching for Change shared a story of a school that questioned, “How Diverse is Our Classroom Library?”
–Here is a quick six-minute read on Where to Find “Diverse” Children’s Books by Melissa Giraud, co-founder of EmbraceRace.
— Congratulations to Cuban-American author Meg Medina and Mexican-American author Anna-Marie McLemore who are on the prestigious 2016 National Book Awards Longlist: Young People’s Literature
– Lastly, again from Teaching for Change, we discovered the Smithsonian’s Global Folklorist Challenge where young people between the ages 8-18 are challenging and inspired to interview the elders in their community.
Image: Latin American Flags. Reprinted from Flickr user Steven Damron under CC ©.
As more and more people begin to talk about the need for diversity in our classroom curricula and literature, we must remember that diversity can’t exist just for diversity’s sake. Conversations in our classrooms around diversity can intentionally or unintentionally lead to the perpetuation of stereotypes and labels. As Colleen pointed out in last week’s post identity is complex. She asks an important question: How does one meaningfully capture the range of cultural practices, traditions, languages, religions, geography, race, and ethnicity – just to name a few – of those who identify as Latinx? While we want to teach about the multitude of cultures, ethnicities, and races that make up our classroom, our nation, and our world, we also want to make sure that we are providing the space for our students to express and identity both their cultural background and their own uniqueness.
One way to accomplish this is to build a strong classroom community. It won’t happen overnight, but in the long run it’s always worth the time and effort. Lee and Low Books just shared a free unit on “Building Classroom Community Unit for Kindergarten.” Based on eight different read-aloud books, the lessons provide in-depth literacy engagement while also encouraging students to connect through sharing about themselves and learning about others. The lessons can be easily adapted for older children as well.
Saludos todos, and welcome to my first book review of the year! I’m thrilled to be back writing for the blog, and I’m especially excited for all of this year’s amazing books.
This month we will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month while also drawing special attention to the renowned Pura Belpré Award, which recognizes outstanding works of Latinx children’s literature, and is celebrating its 20th year in 2016. The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. In our celebration of this prestigious award and its recipients, we will also be celebrating Pura Belpré herself.
¡Hola a todos!
Me llamo (my name is) Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo. I am a new Master’s student in the Latin American Studies program at the University of New Mexico. I received my undergraduate degree in Environment and Natural Resources and International Studies with minors in Chicano Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wyoming.
I am originally from Tlaxcala, Mexico, but I was raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, college, and soon a Master’s program. Not only am I first generation but I am also a DACA recipient- a temporary permit to reside in the US. I am an immigrant and not ashamed of it.
Living in a predominantly white community made me eager to learn about my raza (people). It is then when I discovered my passion for the Americas and inspired me to understand the way communities function. This is the primary reason why one of my concentration tracks within my Latin American Studies degree is in Urbanism and Community Development. I am devoted to creating a peaceful and comfortable environment in the community I choose to reside in upon the completion of my studies.
I look forward to discovering new books to improve the K-12 cultural education and our own intellectual minds. Moreover, I am excited to hear your thoughts as we cross educational boundaries together!
Saludos todos! This week we are continuing our themes of nature and environmental awareness with another great read. The book for this week is The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici. This book follows the life of renowned bird painter, Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927), including his bicultural upbringing, his worldly travels, and his absolute love for birds. As some of you may remember from my previous post on Margarita Engle, she, too, is an avid bird-watcher, botanist and advocate for nature conservation and environmentalism. Written in Engle’s characteristic poetic style, this book celebrates the beauty of nature, and the pursuit of one’s dreams.
The book is divided up into a series of poems that read like prose, illustrating Engle’s classic, stylistic fusion. Every two pages there is a new title and with an artful use of enjambment and rhyme, Engle narrates the life and work of the wonderful bird artist. Engle, like with many of her other books, expertly combines art and imagination with nonfictional information that will undoubtedly educate young readers in more ways than one. According to a review by Good Reads, “Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927) is now known as the father of modern bird art. He traveled with many scientific expeditions all over the world. His best-known works—paintings for habitat exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York—are still beloved by visitors today. His art helped to encourage wildlife conservation, inspiring people to celebrate and protect the world of wings.” Indeed, Engle’s book joins in Fuertes’ mission of encouraging wildlife conservation and reveling in the beauty of our world’s diverse flora and fauna. Here at Vamos a Leer, we, too, would like to join in the choir and celebrate the natural habitats of the world, while inspiring readers and educators to participate in and encourage environmental conservationism and wildlife protection.
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
I’m feeling a bit under the weather this week so my post will be a little shorter than usual. This week, I will continue the discussion about our lovely planet! As I mentioned last week, Earth Day is important for many reasons, just one of which is to highlight the problems our environments are facing today as a result of our ever-changing climate. While “climate change” is a popular phrase in politics and media reports, I thought it may be nice to introduce a resource that explains the terms frequently used with climate change, and thus explains how climate change began. With both the option to watch a video (narrated by Bill Nye the Science Guy) or to review a slideshow of terms and definitions, we think this resource could help students understand what climate change means as a term and also what it means for the planet we call home.
The second resource is a video that illustrates environmental impacts of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean. In conjunction with my post from last week, this could lead to discussion about why Earth Day is important, what will happen if we do not take action, alternative resources and energy, and even to discussion about recycling both in the classroom and at home.
The video above is best suited for older audiences, since it ties environmental issues into economic terminology. However, we think younger students could benefit from the video with proper introduction to the key vocabulary. We hope these examples help illustrate that environmental problems impact everyone. If nothing else, we hope you can use these resources in the classroom to provide depth and real life scenarios to your environmental and energy source discussions in the coming weeks. At best, we hope these resources inspire your students to get involved this Earth Day and everyday!
With warmest wishes,
Saludos todos! This week we will be introducing our April themes, celebrating the spirit of Earth Day, El Día de los Niños, and National Poetry Month. The ¡Mira Look! blog posts, however, will focus primarily on celebrating Earth Day with themes of nature and environmental care and consciousness. Our book for this week is Maya’s Blanket/ La manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz. This heartwarming story puts an imaginative and seemingly magical spin on the practice of recycling, reinforcing the creativity and importance of repurposing old things. Brown is of Peruvian and Jewish descent and this story not only emphasizes the environmental necessity in recycling and repurposing, but also elaborates on those cultures’ traditions associated with old objects. As Brown states in her author’s note, this story was inspired by a Yiddish folk song that was “written long before Earth Day came into being, but celebrates both creativity and recycling.”
According to Brown, this story follows the old Yiddish folk song, “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (“I Had a Little Coat”), which is “about an old overcoat that is continually repurposed as smaller and smaller items.” Indeed, the story of Maya’s blanket traces the many phases of her beloved manta, from blanket, to skirt, to scarf, and so on. The story begins with a lovely, two-page spread of little Maya sleeping with her blanket while her abuelita stitches purple butterflies onto it. The butterflies seem slightly elevated from the rest of the blanket, as though they’re about to fly off the blanket and out the window. This visual effect nicely complements the narrative: “Her manta was magical too—it protected her from bad dreams.” Many of Diaz’s illustrations, outlined in thick, black contour lines, give the impression of something handmade – an effect that reinforces the values of heritage, memory and identity conveyed through the book’s text. This opening scene also introduces the sentimental value of the blanket, which Brown confirms in her author’s note: “I think of my mother tucking me in each night, telling me stories of her childhood in Peru as I snuggled under my yellow blanket decorated with orange butterflies. I also think of my nana, who, with infinite patience and love, taught me how to sew and embroider.” Brown’s author’s note is provided in both English and Spanish, and on the same page she includes a glossary of Spanish words, such as manta (blanket), bufanda (scarf) and cinta (ribbon), that are found interspersed throughout the English text.
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thank you kindly for joining me again to read about our lovely planet this week! We have made it to April and Earth Day is just around the corner on the 22nd. Earth Day is important for many reasons, just one of which is to highlight the problems our environments are facing today as a result of our ever-changing climate. While Latin American countries are only responsible for a small amount of carbon emissions, the environments in Latin America appear to be among those most impacted by the changes. Because Latin America is a region full of diverse ecosystems, from rainforest to tropics and everything in between, the effects small changes to the climate have had in the region are particularly devastating. The Latin Times’ Susmita Baral compiled a slideshow that shows the environmental devastation in twenty Latin American countries as part of the article entitled “Earth Day 2015: Find Out What Environmental Problems 20 Latin American Countries Face.” Using this resource in class in the upcoming weeks will help illustrate the importance of taking action to preserve our environments, not just on April 22nd, but every day. We hope the slideshow will initiate the conversation in the classroom, and help bring real life changes to the foreground so students see the importance of taking action.
The next resource highlights three Latin American countries who have taken action to preserve their environments: Costa Rica, Brazil, and Mexico. Using these three countries as examples, discussions could focus on fossil fuels and their impact on the environment and alternative energy sources that are renewable and less detrimental. Considering Costa Rica, Brazil, and Mexico use many different kinds of renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, and hydro power, classroom discussion will be enriched with real life examples of such alternatives. While we frequently look to the Global South as an example of a developing or underdeveloped region of the world, this would be a great way to incorporate Latin America into the classroom in a positive light; as an example of forerunners in implementing renewable energy, of what policy changes that protect the environment should look like, and providing proof that renewable energy is accessible!
We hope these examples help illustrate the kind of environmental problems that make Earth Day so necessary. If nothing else, we hope you can use these resources in the classroom to provide depth and real life scenarios to your environmental and energy source discussions in the coming weeks.
With warmest wishes,
Image. Photo of Renewable Energy. Retrieved from Resource Lessons under CC.