Beginning almost immediately during the school year, as part of my daily read-aloud time, I will include stories which relate in some way to Latino/Hispanic culture or which depict Latino/Hispanic characters engaged in the various everyday roles that they have become accustomed to seeing African American and Anglo characters portray in children's literature. Young Santiago's attempt to gain acceptance from his classmates, in
, by Pura Belpre, is an experience all pupils have felt, as is the joy he feels after accomplishing that task. The discussion which occurs during these readings will be related to the story which is being presented but will also be establishing background for more directed study in the future.
Most, and perhaps all, of the children's books and excerpts listed in my bibliography would be appropriate for use during read-aloud time. Some, however, have specific purposes, such as
Cesar Chavez: Union Leader
, by Bruce Concord, and should be grouped and presented accordingly. The teacher should be aware that segments of novels designed for older readers are often quite appropriate for younger pupils. Some can be used to meet a specific purpose. Through the eyes of Juanita, in
Juanita Fights the School Board
, by Gloria Velasquez, we learn details concerning the December 12 celebration for the Virgin de Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico, an event the class will examine in more detail.
Simultaneously, items from current events will also be presented as they occur, hopefully beginning early in the year. Where possible, these items will be related to previous readings, investigations, or discussions, or they will be used to initiate such activities. Newspaper articles on topics such as the eruption of a volcano near Mexico City during July of this year, as well as information and pictures on local holidays and festivals will be read by or to the class as they happen.
As the unit develops, these oral readings will continue, but now will be accompanied by both silent and group readings of related short stories. A number of these can be found in New Haven's basic reading series published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. "A Gift for Tia Rosa," by Karen Taha, in the third grade text contains a moving account of a young girl's relationship with an older woman who is dying and the gifts they gave to each other. It is a story that seems to move pupils emotionally, opening the way for valuable discussion and/or writing.
Selections such as this example from the series will allow the class to read together. Each grade level contains a few relevant entries, some of which are listed in the bibliography. Related academic skills developed by the text may also be used with each story. Depending upon the situation, stories from past grades and even future grades might be read, by either the group or the teacher. Chapter books by Gary Soto and other authors popular with children are sometimes available through Scholastic Book Services and might be purchased in numbers for both group and independent reading.