I recently returned from a trip to London and I’m now fascinated by anything I see or hear about England. I noticed this same thing after taking my then 12-year-old daughter on a trip to Paris, England and Scotland in 2012. At the time, she had limited experience with international cultures and the trip helped her understand that her life is much different from what other people experience in different parts of the world. This later helped bring alive what she was learning in European History, Art History, and Shakespeare classes as well as in any number of other ways I don’t even know about.
Although it’s not feasible to take students on extended field trips, bringing the world into the classroom is a little easier through good books! Luckily, the American Library Association has helped identify outstanding works by Latino/Latina writers and illustrators with the annual Pura Belpré awards recognize works that “best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”
Are you looking for ways to share the Pura Belpré books to develop a love of reading? The Classroom Bookshelf has these great ideas in their blog:
- Have students analyze their own classroom bookshelves for characters from various cultural backgrounds.
- What do students notice about the social locations of characters?
- Do the characters they read about remind them of themselves?
- Do they see themselves in books? When?
- Are their stories missing from the shelves? If so, how can they be added to your classroom bookshelves?
Another great way to help students understand the culture is through author videos. For example, what would you do if you won an award like the Pura Belpré? Yuyi Morales has won the Pura Belpré Award honor four times, and the medal four times, all for different books, and most recently for Niño Wrestles the World (2014, Roaring Brook Press). Here’s what Yuyi had to say (and dance!) about winning the 2014 Pura Belpré Illustrator award! http://youtu.be/F2FDU0B32cc
The 2014 Pura Belpré Award Honor books include:
The Belpré award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.
Stay tuned with us for some great book and reading suggestions about portraying, affirming, and celebrating a “world wide” variety of cultures, peoples, places and ideas as we assist young people to find themselves on the pages of books.
Submitted by Lesli Baker, UVU Library Assistant Director-Public Services at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah