Yes! We Are Latinos: Poems and Prose About the Latino Experience
This video from YesWeAreLatinos.com was created at Bancroft Elementary School, a bilingual Public School.
On it, different students from Kinder to 5th Grade say the lines of the poem “Bilingüe” from Alma Flor Ada, to express the advantages they have because they are learning to speak two languages.
Alma Flor Ada, author
Alma Flor Ada is the author of hundreds of books, including Under the Royal Palms, a Pura Belpré Award winner and Tales Our Abuelita Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection co-authored by F. Isabel Campoy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Read more about Alma Flor Ada.
F. Isabel Campoy, author
F. Isabel Campoy is the author of more than one hundred books of poetry, art, biography, and folklore for children, including Rosa Raposa and ¡Pío Peep!, co-authored by Alma Flor Ada. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Read more about F. Isabel Campoy.
David Diaz, illustrator
David Diaz is the acclaimed illustrator for dozens of books for young readers including his debut picture book Smoky Night, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal, and Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. He lives in Carlsbad, California.
Read more about David Diaz.
- A Junior Library Guild Selection
- International Latino Book Award
- NCTE Notable Poetry List
The authors of Tales Our Abuelitas Told shape fictional portraits of 13 young people living in the U.S., who have diverse experiences and backgrounds but share a Latino heritage. The first-person narrative poems range from reflective to free-spirited, methodical to free-association. A boy in Detroit dreams of opening a hospital in his family’s native Dominican Republic; a Puerto Rican girl wants her parents to support her dreams of attending college, rather than splurge on "an elaborate party—/ a quinceañera production"; and two friends—one Guatemalan, one Peruvian—are learning the native language of their Chinese and Japanese grandparents. In the most resounding monologue, a Hispanic Native American shares advice from his brother that crystallizes the book’s message: "Never forget who you are." Informative nonfictional interludes succinctly address relevant subjects, including immigration, the challenges migrant workers face, and Cuba-U.S. history. Diaz’s (Smoky Night) angular, hand-cut b&w illustrations are reminiscent of woodblock prints, balancing images from the past and present. An eye-opening and thoughtful celebration of cultural identity.
A poetic celebration of the diversity found among Latinos.
Each poem in this collection of 13 vignettes is a glimpse into the life of a Latino child living in the United States. Ada and Campoy do a commendable job of creating a nuanced, realistic reflection of the many-faceted Latino experience, including characters from a variety of ethnic, religious, language and racial backgrounds. It may be unclear to readers what rendering them in poetry adds to these tales, but they are nonetheless successful stories. An informational piece follows each poem that--while sometimes slightly didactic--expands on the social and historical context with honesty and depth. (One exception is "Deep African Roots," which, while an otherwise good piece, puzzlingly neglects to explore the unique history of blacks in Panama, though the preceding poem is about a black Panamanian boy.) Diaz's signature black-and-white cut-paper art decorates the collection and is especially noteworthy in its reflection of the themes in the informational pieces. Would that the authors had shared why they included Spaniards as Latinos when whether or not Spaniards consider themselves Latinos appears to be up for debate.
Still, with only minor flaws, it is a collection both interesting and educational, offering Latino children positive representations of themselves and teaching non-Latino children about the richness and breadth of the Latino experience.
School Library Journal
A collection of narrative poems meant to represent young Latinos of diverse and multiple backgrounds. All of the selections start with the statement, "My name is...," followed by a bit about where the narrators live, how they came to the United States, and how their families' cultural identities are shaping their future. Each entry is followed with another short narrative that includes historical references to contextualize the "child's" story. It is refreshing to see a varied presentation that includes those from different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, in addition to representing some of the smaller Latin American countries and the islands in the Caribbean. The vignettes also help to illustrate the meaning of being mestizo--the blending of indigenous, African, and Spanish lineage--mentioned in the introduction and explored throughout. Another notable detail is the inclusion of Asians in Latin America, which is often overlooked in children's literature. The illustrations are interesting lino cutouts, black and white, reminiscent of Latino folk art, akin to wood carvings and papel picado. Teachers looking for a starting point to write personal narratives will find the book extremely useful as will those seeking to recognize and highlight this diverse population. A short list of Latino-inspired literature is appended.
This book celebrates the amazing and underappreciated diversity of the Latino community and makes great strides toward ameliorating one-dimensional stereotypes. Through 12 narrative poems, the authors explore the experiences of fictional men and women; Christians and Jews; immigrants, idigenous people, and second-generation Americans; professionals and farmers; all of whom identify themselves as Latinos. Each poem is followed by brief factual explanation of the major themes within, such as the Spanish Civil War, Asian influences in Latin America, and Cuba's relationship with the U.S. Black-and-white abstract art by Caldecott winner David Diaz elevates each individual's story by illustrating major themes. While the authors include a bibliography of source material, they also acknowledge a lengthy list of people who provided inspiration for the topics discussed in the book. Perhaps it is the use of these real-life figures that gives the fictional vignettes such an air of realism and relatability for both Latino and non-Latino readers alike.
Library Media Connection
This book takes a two-pronged approach to defining and expanding on the Latino identity. Each chapter begins with a first-person fictionalized narrative, and is followed by an essay that gives facts and historical information about that character's heritage. The narratives pull the reader in the character's world and the explanation gives it context. The final two chapters expound on the environmental and cultural importance of the Latuino world and are the least engaging. Ada and Campoy succeed in creating compelling representatives of indigenous peoples, Asian immigrants, Spanish refugees, and various nationalities to shed light on the surprisingly diverse Latino cutlure.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-618-0 PDF
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Page count: 96
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
(College and Career Readiness) Reading Informational. Grades 6 to 12. Standards 1 to 10.