Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla, Ill. by Amy Cordova

Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla, Ill. by Amy Cordova

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Publishing: Tricycle Press, Berkeley, 2010.

Description: As it sounds, this cute little book talks about babies attending a fiesta. The phrases are short and rhyme, making for a pleasant read. Many Spanish words and concepts are introduced.

Programming: Because the pictures and text go so well together, have students predict what they think words mean, from the cover to the end. (examples: fiesta, siesta, coronas, salsa, etc.) Have your own mini-fiesta with the items mentioned-a mariachi song, salsa, coronas, etc.

Dear Primo: A Letter to my Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

Dear Primo: A Letter to my Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

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Publishing: Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2010

Description: Two cousins, one on a farm in Mexico and the other in a city in the US. The cousins tell about their lives simultaneously so that the reader can see the parallels. Though their environments are very different, they both go to school and play with friends, going to get food and other necessities with their families on the weekends.

Programming: This opens up a world of possibilities for discussing Mexican culture. There are spanish vocabulary words within the text, as well as some cultural references such as El Dia de los Muertos and futbol. Students might point out on a map where Mexico is, stage their own festival or futbol game, and/or sing some Spanish songs that reinforce the vocabulary. Because the boys lives’ are similar, have the class draw up a list of similarities, or have them draw pictures of the boys doing something similar at the same time, as in the book.

Pedro the Angel of Olvera Street by Leo Politi

Pedro the Angel of Olvera Street by Leo Politi

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Publishing: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1946

Awards: 1947 Caldecott Honor

Description: Pedro lives on Olvera Street in Los Angeles and sings while his grandfather plays music. The people say that Pedro has the voice of an angel. Pedro talks a bit about his neighborhood and the things he sees. A man named Manuel is given the job of decorating the street for Christmas and organizing La Posada, which is a Christmas procession. When Manuel hangs a piñata Pedro hopes that when it is broken open on Christmas Eve that he will receive a music box. Manuel also decides that Pedro’s voice would make him the perfect angel to lead the procession and he has a pair of wings made for the boy. The procession goes off without a hitch and when the piñata is broken Pedro even finds the music box he had wanted. He goes home and falls asleep, dreaming of an angel and the Christ child being born. The illustrations vary from black and white to rich, deep colors, from full-page and bleed illustrations to only those at the top of two pages with lots of text. There are two songs, including the music, included in the text. The words are in Spanish and then English.

Programming: A great read for Christmas time to show how other cultures celebrate the holiday. There are several Spanish words in the text that would be great for a Spanish class, as well as the two songs which can be sung in both languages. Students might reflect on their own Christmas traditions or on the things they love about their neighborhood.

Juan Bobo Goes to Work by Marisa Montes, Ill. by Joe Cepeda

Juan Bobo Goes to Work by Marisa Montes, Ill. by Joe Cepeda

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Publishing: Harper Collins, 2000

Awards: ALA Notable Children’s Book

Description: Juan Bobo, Spanish for “Simple John” is a little boy who always seems to make mistakes and get confused. He tries very hard to listen to what he is told, but generally ends up making a mess. When his antics rouse a terminally ill girl to laughter, however, her father is eternally grateful and buys Juan and his mother un jamon every Sunday.

Programming: This book would be wonderful in a Spanish language class, or a unit on hispanic culture. There is a glossary of Spanish terms in the back, but while reading the story you could have students hold up a card for the English translation of the word to reinforce the meaning.