Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
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 7: Social Justice and Action - Alma Flor Ada, Pam Munoz, and Paul Yee
Authors and Literary Works
Alma Flor Ada
Pam Munoz Ryan
Paul Yee
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Student Work
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
Esperanza Rising

Set during the Great Depression, Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising is a coming-of-age tale that also tells an important historical story. As the book opens, Esperanza (Spanish for "hope") is a wealthy and privileged child, the daughter of a grape plantation owner in Mexico. But when her father is murdered by bandits and her corrupt uncle burns down their plantation, Esperanza and her mother are left with nothing. They come to California, where they find work on a farm labor camp. There, lonely Esperanza, who has never known anything other than a pampered, aristocratic life, must learn to cook, sweep, and work on the farm. "Ryan writes movingly in clear, poetic language that children will sink into," according to Booklist, "and the book offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support."

The book opens with a Mexican proverb that reads, "The rich person is richer when he becomes poor, than the poor person when he becomes rich." As Esperanza works packing produce for the money to bring her beloved abuelita to the United States, she becomes stronger and more mature. She thinks of the story her grandmother has told her of the phoenix that rises from the ashes. As the book ends, she realizes, "She had her family, a garden full of roses, her faith, and the memories of those who had gone before her. But now, she had even more than that, and it carried her up, as on the wings of the phoenix. She soared with the anticipation of dreams she never knew she could have, of learning English, of supporting her family, of someday buying a tiny house." The book ends with Esperanza passing on to another the advice that her grandmother once gave her: "Do not ever be afraid to start over."

Set against a backdrop of historical events like dust storms and labor strikes witnessed by Muñoz Ryan's grandmother, Esperanza Rising shows how one family can withstand deep injustice by bonding together. Stories of Dust Bowl "Okies," Japanese, Filipinos, and Chinese are woven in among the struggles of the Mexican immigrants. The novel has won the Pura Belpré Medal ane the Jane Addams Peace Award; it was an Americas Award Honor Book and was chosen as an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. It was on the Best Book Lists of the Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian, and was also included on the Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books List.

back to top Next: Paul Yee: Biography

Workshop Home Support Materials About this Workshop Sitemap
Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades Workshop Home

© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy