We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season thus far. At Vamos a Leer we want to wish everyone joyful celebrations before we take a break until January. Here in Albuquerque the farolitos are already shining the path for Las Posadas celebrations. We hope your holidays are festive and full of life!
Until next year,
Photo by Jack Parsons
Buenos días a todas y todos,
The Vamos a Leer theme for this month, as written in Keira’s Sobre Deciembre post, is focused on winter celebrations. I was eager to explore children’s and YA literature around this topic in hopes of finding books that are reflective of the diverse familial celebrations, religious and spiritual practices, and cultural traditions throughout Latin America. However, it would be disingenuous to state that this eagerness remained after learning the outcome of the election. Rather, like many others, I began to reflect on the multiple uncertainties that our communities face. More specifically, what will the future hold for those that are from other countries and living in the United States? With everything that I read being filtered through this lens, I decided it was best to reframe the theme a bit.
Saludos, todos! Welcome to our last book review of the year. This week I will be reviewing Feliz Navidad, written by José Feliciano and illustrated by David Diaz, to wrap up this month’s holiday themes. This book is written in both Spanish and English and is best for ages 3-7. However, with a sing-song rhythm and dramatic illustrations, it could brighten any home or classroom.
The book begins with a two-page introduction describing the Puerto Rican holiday tradition of parranda. Parranda is a yuletide tradition where carolers, or parranderos, go from house to house singing classic holiday songs called aguinaldos. The first neighbor to receive a visit invites the carolers in for singing, dancing, and food. From there, the party of carolers grows and the group continues to other houses in the neighborhood. At the final house, there is a big party where everyone gets together to celebrate family, friends, and the holiday season. According to the book’s introduction, “This feast unites families, friends, and neighbors for a magical celebration during the Christmas season.” For those of you who read last week’s book review, the tradition of parranda may remind you a bit of las posadas, a Mexican tradition where a group of people go from house to house asking for food and warmth in a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Parranda, however, is a unique Christmas tradition celebrated on the tropical island of Puerto Rico, as well as other Caribbean islands, such as Cuba. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Here we are, already in December! This semester just flew right by. Before delving into winter celebrations in Latin America, I just want to quickly extend gratitude to everyone reading, whether you are here for the first time or have been following my posts this entire semester. Thank you for your readership, especially during the busy holiday season that is now upon us (Ahh!).
In the past, we have focused our December posts mostly on Las Posadas (you can find a number of our past Las Posadas posts here). This year, I am including a musical playlist to offer both a complement to our presentations of Las Posadas and also a broader view of winter celebrations in Latin America. I have a couple links to feature here that can be used in the classroom or for your own personal knowledge to aid in creating a culturally informed holiday discussion and celebration in your classroom.
The first feature is a very diverse musical playlist, which includes music from Spain, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Feliz Navidad from Smithsonian Folkways adds rhythm to the celebration of the holidays throughout the Spanish-speaking countries of the world! Incorporating villancicos, aguinaldos, bulerias, zambas, and arrullos, this is truly a musical voyage through Christmas celebrations in Latin America. To take it a step further, I am featuring another link to a musical map, which is a great way to illustrate where each different rhythm originates. This world map is overlaid with the contents of the music from the first playlist, and in addition, playlists that collect music from holiday celebrations in other parts of the world (mainly, Africa and Eastern Europe, with various other locations, as well). Continue reading
¡Buenos días! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! This month I’ve compiled a list of children’s books about winter festivities celebrated in Latin America and Latino communities in the United States. Here at Vamos a Leer we have tons of resources for teaching Latin American and Latino holiday traditions in the classroom. Many of them have been compiled under the heading “Las Posadas,” given that we’ve found many search engines that bring people here just for that topic. Below I’ve compiled a list of ten exemplary books that can help you explore the topic further with your students. I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I did!
Saludos y felices fiestas,
Kalyn Continue reading
Today’s En la Clase continues our December theme on winter celebrations by sharing how to implement another great children’s book into your teaching. We’ve already shared posts on The Miracle of the First Poinsettia and A Piñata in a Pine Tree. Be sure to check those out for some other fun resources if you missed them.
I recently remembered a recommendation a blog reader gave me last year about the beautiful book ‘Twas Nochebuena written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sarah Palacios. Somehow I’d missed this book when it came out in 2014, but I’m really happy to be writing about it this year in time for one of our December posts. Greenfield Thong and Placios have created a new version of the familiar ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas tale. Here, students will read about one family’s Nochebuena celebration. This story, like some of the others we’ve highlighted this month, is filled with references to Latino Christmas traditions such as tamales, adornos, canciones, las posadas, and champurrado. Written in a mixture of English and Spanish, the book can be used with English speakers or Spanish speakers, as the surrounding words and illustrations provide plenty of context clues. The glossary at the back is also a great resource. Continue reading
In the spirit of the season, we’re spending our last few weeks of the year by talking about resources for teaching Latin@ and Latin American winter celebrations in the classroom. I could go into more detail about what each of our wonderful bloggers will cover, but suffice it to say that they’re each going to share some superb resources with you to help teach about cultural diversity during the month of December.
The idea of using this month to diversify the classroom is not a new topic on this blog. For some of our many past references to this theme, see our posts on “Las Posadas” and other winter celebrations.
Enjoy and let us know if there’s anything else we can address for you!
Saludos, everyone! This week marks the beginning of our December themes. We are starting a bit early, since the staff here at Vamos a Leer will be leaving for winter break half-way through December (more details to follow). We want to make sure that we have enough time to put out at least a few winter-themed book reviews before we leave for the holidays. Our December themes will focus on the winter season and winter celebrations in Latin America.
This week I will start by reviewing The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, written by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Fabian Negrin. This holiday tale is best for ages 5-9. It is written in English with Spanish words interspersed throughout, and tells the story of a young, Mexican girl who learns to give gifts from the heart. Oppenheim’s story is a retelling of a traditional Mexican myth about the creation of the first Poinsettia flowers in Mexico. These flowers are sometimes called “flores de la Noche Buena,” or “flowers of Christmas Eve.” According to Oppenheim’s Author’s Note: “They decorate homes and churches all over the world at Christmas time. In Mexico they are so plentiful they still go like weeds. They brighten gardens and remind us of hope, the joy and the miracle of Christmas!” With glowing illustrations, this tale of love and kindness will surely warm the hearts of readers as the winter chill sets in. Continue reading
I 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
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.