By Kelli Drummer-Avendano
Honor Hispanic Heritage Month and enrich students’ understanding of the world with authentic Spanish-language books, like the ones in the Mes de la Hispanidad libraries from dostomatillos. Award-winning authors, inventive stories, informational texts, and vibrant illustrations bring Hispanic culture to life, and these hands-on activities help students go beyond reading to engage with what they’ve learned.
#1-Compare and contrast
Comparing and contrasting allows students to see the world in shades of gray because many things can be alike as well as different. A wonderful example of this is how Halloween and the Day of the Dead share some parallels, but also differ in how they are celebrated. As a class, you can explore the traditions of this emblematic holiday by reading the book Festival de Calaveras by Luis San Vicente. Students will delight in learning about the marigolds, papel picado, dead bread, and altars that accompany this celebration of life. After, have students write or draw a chart explaining the similarities and differences between these two holidays.
Looking at life from someone else’s point of view is not always easy for young kids who tend to be stuck in their own world. The best way to introduce them to different perspectives is through reading first-person narratives. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month students can read ¡Sí! Somos Latinos, the award-winning book by renowned authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. The thirteen young Latinos and Latinas introduced through these fictional narratives illustrate an individual’s quest for identity and the collective quest of Latinos. After reading the narratives, students can either write a narrative based on their own experiences or from the point of view of a well-known historical figure of Hispanic heritage.
Students connect naturally with the world through art and images. The beautiful pictures in the book El mejor regalo del mundo. La leyenda de la vieja Belén brings to life a Dominican folk character who has an important message to share with readers of all ages. It’s a lesson about generosity and knowing what is most important in life—a lesson students from all backgrounds can appreciate. Once you’ve finished the book, ask students to draw the moral of the story. Additionally, students could work together to create storyboards that tell the entire tale through their own illustrations.
#4- Play during Hispanic Heritage Month
Witnessing a fictional character react to something or someone different helps kids process their own feelings on the subject. Students will relate right away to the young boys in the inventive story ¡Juguemos al fútbol y al football! which brings two cultures together. Begin with a class discussion about sports and how they can unite people from different backgrounds. Ask students if they’ve ever participated or watched a sport that was unfamiliar to them. How was that experience? What would they do if their favorite sport or activity was different than that of their friends? If possible, after reading the book, students can enjoy their own game of fútbol and football together!
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