Poets and Poems: #NationalPoetryMonth

Hello, all!

Our wonderful children’s book reviewer, Alice, is away from the blog this week. In  place of her review, we thought we’d share this beautiful resource developed by Bookology Magazine: Poetry Mosaic.

In honor of #NationalPoetryMonth, Bookology has invited authors to read their original poetry and is compiling the recordings into a mosaic of poets and poetry, with a new author highlighted each day. All of the poets selected are amazing, but here are a few of our Vamos a Leer favorites: Jorge Argueta, Pat Mora, and Margarita Engle. Argueta and Engle read both English and Spanish versions of their poems, so this is an even better start to the day for our bilingual readers. Take your pick of language!

Jorge Tetl Argueta     Pat Mora     Margarita Engle
Hope you enjoy this poetic start to the day as much as we did!

Cheers,
Keira

10 Children’s and YA Books about Sung & Unsung Latin@ Heroes

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Hello all!

In case you missed Keira’s Sobre Enero post, this month’s theme honors the many individuals, real or imagined, who populate the rich landscape of Latin@ literature for children and young adults.  This month’s Reading Roundup brings together a few of these heroes, both sung and unsung, whose actions inspired positive change.  While it is a monumental task to choose just a few of the many wonderful books that are out there, I’ve narrowed down the list to books that will encourage our students and children to honor their own truths. I also hope that these books will help expand the literary canon beyond those heroes whose stories are taught repeatedly. The books below encompass a diverse panorama of experiences, accomplishments, and outcomes.  To name a few, these remarkable figures displayed their passion through art, literature, activism, and even by simply passing on their knowledge to new generations.   May you enjoy these works as much as I enjoyed finding them!

Happy New Year!

Abrazos,
Colleen

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10 Latinx Children’s Books on Food as Culture and Heritage

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Buenos días a todas y todos,

I hope this day finds you each doing well!

As the holidays near, we are invited to reflect on the significance that such days play in our own lives and in the lives of others.  We are reminded that the way we experience holidays differs from those around us: from one family to the next, one culture to the next, and from one generation to the next.  Notwithstanding these differences, there remains a constant and a uniting force: food.

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¡Mira, Look!: Tomás and the Library Lady

tomas-and-the-library-ladySaludos todos! Our book for this week is Tomás and the Library Lady, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raúl Colón. Although last week we focused on Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian at the New York City Public Library, this week we are focusing on the legacy of Tomás Rivera, another symbol of Latin American literature and Hispanic-American heritage. Like Belpré, Rivera loved literature and pioneered outreach projects to the Hispanic-American community. As an author, poet and professor, he was beloved for his enthusiasm and his passion for teaching, learning, and books. While we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the many sensational figures associated with that legacy, we are turning our attention this week to another exceptional figure.

Some of you may recognize Tomás Rivera’s name from one of my earlier posts featuring the 2016 Tomás Rivera Award recipients. The award, which is bestowed in memory of Rivera and his love for literature, honors exceptional Latinx children’s and young adult books. In line with many of the values now symbolized by Rivera’s legacy, this story shows the intercultural and intergenerational power of literature, as well as the timeless beauty of a shared culture.

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September 9th | Week in Review

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Hola a todos! I am very excited to share with everyone my first “official” post. Going forward, we’ll be using Friday’s World Wide Web column as an opportunity to bring you current conversations and resources related to teaching about Latinx culture. I hope you enjoy reading the materials as much as I enjoy collecting them!

– Marley Dias is our new heroine! She’s a young woman who’s made national headlines through her efforts to rethink school reading lists. If you haven’t joined her fan club yet, check out the NY Times blog article on “#1000BlackGirlBooks Campaign Expands.”

– “Moomins and Tintin are great, but where are new translated children’s books?” This article that Daniel Hahn wrote for The Guardian talks about the importance of translating children’s books into different languages.

–The Pittsburgh Carrier highlights the need for diverse children’s literature with their article on “Child Watch…Children of Color Need to See Themselves in Books

–Education Week recently shared an article focused on “Teaching Global Children’s Literature: What to Read and How to Read.” Here’s a snippet to pique your interest: “Teachers must attend to which cultures are represented, underrepresented, misrepresented, and invisible in children’s books (what to read) as well as recontextualize these books within the history, culture, and time from which they emerged (how to read).”

–neaToday (the blog of the National Education Association) brings up how to honor and acknowledge students’ heritage in the classroom through pronouncing their names correctly: The Lasting Impact of Mispronouncing Students’ Names

– Lastly, from the NY Times, many of us here at Vamos a Leer found Kwame Alexander’s discussion of “Children’s Books and the Color of Characters” super meaningful.

 Abrazos,
Alin Badillo

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En la Clase: A Piñata in a Pine Tree

A Pinata in a Pine Tree | Teaching Holidays and Celebrations | Vamos a Leer BlogI realize it’s still November, but based on our search statistics, many of you are already looking for books, lesson plans, and resources for teaching about winter celebrations like Christmas and Las Posadas.  I’m impressed! You all are far more organized than I was when I was in the classroom.  You’ll definitely want to check out this week’s giveaway of Merry Navidad!  In previous posts we’ve discussed our philosophy for how to approach teaching about cultural celebrations and traditions in a way that’s authentic and meaningful.  Many of those same ideas are relevant here as well.

First, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve written about in past posts on teaching about winter celebrations.  This time of year was always one of my favorites times to be in the classroom because the possibilities for engaging and interesting lessons were endless.  When I taught third grade, at the beginning of each December I began a unit on three winter celebrations: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Las Posadas.  As a child, I remember talking about Hanukkah in school, but the extent of what we learned seemed to be limited to eating latkes and learning a song and game about dreidels.  I wanted to go beyond that.  I wanted my students to have a deeper understanding of cultural traditions that may be different from the ones they or their families personally observe. Continue reading

En la Clase: Gracias~Thanks

Gracias Thanks |En la Clase | Vamos a LeerIn last week’s En la Clase I talked about using Round is a Tortilla and Green is a Chile Pepper as the basis for a poetry activity based on gratitude, gratefulness, and awareness.  This week I’m highlighting Gracias ~ Thanks, another beautiful book illustrated by John Parra and written by Pat Mora.  As the title suggests, thankfulness is the main theme of the book, making it the perfect book for this time of year. The publisher’s description writes, “There are so many things to be thankful for. . .Straight from the heart of a child flows this lighthearted bilingual celebration of family, friendship, and fun.  Come share the joy, and think about all the things for which you can say, ¡Gracias! Thanks!”  Like last week’s books, Gracias ~ Thanks is a book written with young children in mind, so it’s great for your pre-school or early elementary students.  But, with such an important and universal theme, it’s great for encouraging a mindfulness of the everyday things for which we can be thankful in older and younger students alike.  Plus, each page is written in English and Spanish, so it’s great for English, Spanish, or bilingual classrooms.

In all of our busyness, it’s easy to take for granted the people or things that make our lives so special.  Mora’s poetic words and Parra’s beautiful illustrations turn the very commonplace things in our lives into reasons to celebrate.  They highlight the ways in which the ordinary actions of family and friends can make our lives such lovely experiences.  Not only is it a fun book to read, but it easily lends itself to writing activities. Continue reading