WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! I can almost smell all the delicious foods being prepared at home already! Can’t you? I hope you and your students are getting excited to celebrate the holiday in your own special ways.  This week, I am featuring a few resources that highlight the ways in which Thanksgiving coincides with Harvest Festivals throughout the world.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!The first resource is from Eatocracy and it shows some beautiful images of how Thanksgiving foods in different parts of the United States have been adapted to include more Latin American ingredients.  For example, the first picture on the page shows the Castillo-Lavergne Family’s Turkey Pasteles, which are wrapped green banana stuffed pastries.  This is the perfect display of how the traditional turkey platter can be transformed and included in other cultural dishes.  This article, creatively titled, “El Día de Las Gracias—Thanksgiving with a Latin Twist,” celebrates the coming together of flavors, families, and cultures across the United States.  We think this resource could easily be incorporated into class discussions of how students celebrate the holiday, what foods they have every year, and who gets to help with the cooking. 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

WWW: Teaching Thanksgiving with a Grain of Salt (and Some Succotash Seneca)

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thank you again for joining me during the busy weeks! This week, I am featuring a resource that offers a Thanksgiving story that differs a bit from the traditional “Pilgrims and Indians” story we are accustomed to hearing.  There are many discrepancies with the “First Feast” idea that accompanies most Thanksgiving stories, including some that highlight the Spaniards’ presence in North America prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival and others that were highlighted in last week’s post (link to rethinking schools resource).  However, this resource offers yet another perspective on Thanksgiving.  This author happens to be a historian who teaches in high schools and also identifies as Native American. Continue reading

En la Clase: Gratitude, Awareness, and Poetry for the Classroom

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It’s officially November. Here at Vamos a Leer we’re not advocates of teaching the traditional tales of Pilgrims, Indians, and the First Thanksgiving (Charla does a great job discussing this in her post “Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No Stereotypes”). This doesn’t mean that we want you to entirely ignore the fall season. One of my favorite parts of being in the classroom was that I was able to explicitly call attention to the changing of the seasons.  This made me so mindful of the different things I loved about each time of year and allowed me to encourage my students to do the same. The end of fall and the beginning of winter are a great time to have your students focus on gratitude, gratefulness, and awareness. So for today’s En la Clase post, I thought I’d highlight the ways the two beautiful books by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra can be used as the basis for a great seasonal literacy activity.  The books by this duo are amazing. If you’re not familiar with their work, you must remedy that right away! In tVamos a Leer | 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners and Honor Books| Green is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by John Parrahis post, I’m going to discuss Green is a Chile Pepper and Round is a Tortilla. Check out the review Lorraine wrote last year of Round is a Tortilla for a quick introduction to their work.

Focusing on shapes and colors, both of the books were written with young children in mind.  But as with many great children’s books, this doesn’t mean that young readers are the only ones who can enjoy or benefit from them.  For me, these books really inspire the reader to be fully aware of all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around them.  Full of cultural references, they really encourage students to think about all of the everyday things that not only make up our daily experiences but really enrich our lives.  As is probably evident from the titles, Round is a Tortilla encourages this kind of awareness by focusing on the shapes of the things that surround us, while Green is a Chile Pepper highlights colors.  Written with a lyrical style, I think the books really lend themselves to a poetry activity. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: ¡Yum, MmMm, Qué Rico!

Children's Book Review: Yum! ¡Mmm! ¡Qué Rico! Brotes de las Américas by Pat Mora | Vamos a Leer¡Saludos, todos! Our themes for November will be food, harvest, and, of course, giving thanks! We have a lot of great books lined up, all of which speak to the different ways of celebrating these themes with family and friends. I am extra excited about this week’s book as it provides a wealth of resources for both educators and every-day readers (please take this as a warning that this post is longer than usual, but well worth it).

This week I will be reviewing “Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings / Brotes de la Américas“, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López. The book is available in both English and Spanish editions, although I will be reviewing the latter. In this wonderful collection of poetry, Pat Mora takes us on a gastronomic journey of the Americas through a series of fun haikus. Each poem focuses on a crop native to these continents, culminating in a full harvest of celebration and praise. The descriptions of food and cuisine alongside the bright, multicolored illustrations at once awaken the senses while guiding readers through the history of agriculture in the Americas. Mora introduces her book by acknowledging the influence of her anthropologist husband who teaches about the origins of agriculture, an inspiration that certainly resonates throughout her collection. Readers will undoubtedly revel in this delicious feast of knowledge, art and poetry. Continue reading

WWW: Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No Stereotypes

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No StereotypesAs we move into November (I know, I cannot believe it’s November either!), I want to thank all my readers!  This is a busy time in the semester/year so I appreciate the time you are spending with me on Friday mornings.  Today, I wanted to kick off the month by expanding the discussion beyond the trite, problematic depiction of “the first Thanksgiving between Pilgrims and Indians” to which so many classrooms and communities still adhere. We do a disservice to ourselves and to others if we hold just to that depiction.

At various times over the past few years, Katrina has posted about how to contradict stereotypes associated with Thanksgiving and offered ways to “re-teach” it. At the bottom of my post, I’ve provided links to her posts on the topic. Continue reading

Sobre Noviembre: Resources to Celebrate & Rethink Thanksgiving

Vamos a Leer | Sobre Noviembre: Resources to Celebrate & Rethink ThanksgivingHi, everyone,

I’m here to wrap up our October focus on “Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and Celebrating” and to introduce the themes we’ll discuss in November: Resources to Celebrate and Rethink Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the inescapably dominant theme in classrooms and communities in November,  and it’s provoked/inspired many conversations here in the office among our writers. In a positive sense, we’ve been discussing how it offers uplifting opportunities to talk about foods, cultures, heritage, and, yes, gratitude and thankfulness.

We’ve also been talking about the problems it poses – about how to contradict and rethink harmful stereotypes such as the “Indians and Pilgrims” and the “First Thanksgiving,” and how to dispel the historical inaccuracies, omissions, and misunderstandings that come with them. Over the next month, we’ll address directly and indirectly how the common teachings about Thanksgiving need to be reworked. Our conversation resonates, fortunately/unfortunately, with the recent media coverage about the language used in our textbooks. For those who may have missed the uproar, check out this NPR article on “Why Calling Slaves ‘Workers’ Is More Than An Editing Error.”

With all of that in mind, here’s how we’ll discuss these topics: Continue reading