10 Children’s and YA Books Celebrating Latinx Poetry and Verse

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Hello all –

I am thrilled to be celebrating National Poetry Month with you!  As with many of you, poetry holds a dear place in my heart.  As a young person, I recall writing poem after poem and finding such liberation in exploring my voice, playing with syntax and line breaks, and testing out vocabulary that had yet to find a place in my daily life.  Poetry allowed for a freedom and creativity that was unmatched in other mediums.  And because of this, I believe that writing poetry enables us to develop our own voice, author our own truths, and honor our own experiences; all of which play an integral part in a young person’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.

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March 10th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! Here are some timely resources that I hope will be of use to you. Unfortunately, next week I’ll be absent from the blog because it’s our spring break, but I’ll definitely be back the following week with more to share.

As a side note (but an important one!), we want to take a moment to add our  voices to the chorus of advocates who are incensed that the Zinn Education Project would be banned in Arkansas. Here at Vamos we’re devout supporters of their efforts to teach students the diverse histories of this nation. Check out the preceding link not only to learn more about what’s happening, but also for suggestions on how to support the Zinn Education Project in its valuable work!

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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

En la Clase: Rhythm and Resistance~Teaching Poetry for Social Justice

It’s a bit of a celebration here at Vamos a Leer as today marks our 500th post!! It’s been a great three and a half years.  We’re incredibly grateful for all of you who read, comment on, and share our Vamos a Leer resources.  It’s been wonderful getting to know this online community!

Rhythm and Resistance coverIt seems fitting that for today’s En la Clase I’m sharing a book that comes from one of my absolute favorite organizations for teaching resources: Rethinking Schools.  While it was Paulo Freire’s work that introduced me to the powerful potential of education, Rethinking Schools radically changed the way I taught.  Their teaching resources empowered both me and my students through concrete representations of critical pedagogy that humanize the teaching and learning processes.  Last spring we were lucky enough to get to host three Rethinking Schools editors for a day-long conference at the University of New Mexico.  Bill Bigelow, Linda Christensen, and Wayne Au led panel discussions and workshops along side some of our College of Education faculty.  Months later I still hear our local teachers and teacher education students referencing things they learned from that conference.

Today, I want to share with you one of Rethinking Schools’ most recent publications, Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, edited by Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it “offers practical lessons about how to teach poetry to build community, understand literature and history, talk back to injustice, and construct stronger literacy skills across content areas and grade levels—from elementary school to graduate school. Rhythm and Resistance reclaims poetry as a necessary part of a larger vision of what it means to teach for justice” (taken from the book’s back cover).  While many of us may be familiar with Christensen’s lesson plan on “Where I’m From” Poetry, this book provides an entire year’s worth of such engaging lessons that go way beyond the haiku, rhyming poems, or sonnets we often ask our students to write. Continue reading