For all children to learn, the achievement gap must be closed. A range of factors inhibits academic achievement: poverty, inadequate housing, high unemployment, poor health screening, the unavailability of quality health care, and the lack of commitment to universal preschool and Head Start programs. Educational policy and practice focuses overwhelmingly on academic achievement. However, this is only one element of student learning. As a teacher I need to look beyond the characteristics of students beyond my control to the content of learning. Recognizing that rich content that allows all students to see themselves as valued in the mirror of life and as having important stories to be told can be accomplished by the materials I choose to create challenging and engaging curriculum.
This unit is designed to provide background information on Latino communities and to teach children how to identify with the world around them in order to appreciate the similarities and differences to help understand how they fit into this world. The texts chosen for this unit have Mexican, Costa Rican, and El Salvadoran roots. In my summaries of these texts I have used the following criteria when choosing books for this unit. To begin with, all the books are well written and free of stereotypes and negative portrayals. The lifestyles of the characters are culturally accurate. Finally, the authors and illustrators chosen for this unit have the qualifications and background needed to deal with the cultural group with accuracy and respect.