Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 4: Research and Discovery - An Na, Edwidge Danticat, Laurence Yep, and more
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
An Na
Biography
Work
Edwidge Danticat
Biography
Work
Interview
Pam Munoz Ryan
Biography
Work
Walter Dean Myers
Biography
Work
Laurence Yep
Biography
Work
Interview
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Authors and Literary Works
Biography

Pam Muñoz Ryan has written more than 25 books for children, including works of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books for every age from toddler to teenager. She has won many awards, including the national Willa Cather Award and the California Young Reader Medal. "I write about dreams, discoveries, and daring women. I write short stories about hard times, picture books about mice and beans, and novels about journeys," she says. "That's part of the enchantment of writing and creating characters -- the variety!"

Born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley of California amid a large extended family, Muñoz Ryan considers her background an "ethnic smorgasbord" -- she is a mix of Spanish, Mexican, Basque, Italian, and Oklahoman. During the long, hot summers of her youth, she found relief in the air-conditioned local library. She credits these visits with kindling her interest in books and reading. Muñoz Ryan's devotion to books persisted through her college years, so she decided on a career in teaching, and later went on to be an administrator. When a colleague asked for help writing a book, she says, "That's when I discovered what I really wanted to do with my life."

The young adult novel Esperanza Rising is a story that is deeply connected to Muñoz Ryan's life. As she explains in the author's note that ends the book, Esperanza's experiences are very much based on the life of her grandmother, who also grew up wealthy in Mexico until a series of circumstances forced her to come to America to work at a company-owned farm labor camp in California. Like Esperanza, she lived through the effects of the Mexican Deportation Act. Yet, Muñoz Ryan writes, "My family's feelings for the company camp are deep-rooted and still filled with loyalty for their start in this country and for the jobs they had at a time when so many had none."

Muñoz Ryan calls her grandmother a "survivor," and says, "Our accomplishments were her accomplishments." Muñoz Ryan is proud that all of her grandmother's grandchildren learned English, and most went to college. "It is no wonder," she writes, "that in Spanish, esperanza means 'hope.'"

Pam Muñoz Ryan is a graduate of San Diego State University, where she also earned a master's degree.

back to top Next: Pam Muñoz Ryan: Work


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