Esperanza Rising, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study or for literature circles in the classroom. Esperanza Rising was published in 2000 and has received numerous awards, including the Pura Belpré Award, an award honoring the excellent portrayal of Latino experience in children’s literature.
Summary of Esperanza Rising*:
Esperanza believed her life would be wonderful forever. She would always live on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She would always have fancy dresses and a beautiful home filled with servants. papa and Abuelita would always be with her.
But a sudden tragedy shatters her world and forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California, where they settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for hard labor, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, and lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick, and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances – because Mama’s life and her own depend on it.
•from the book jacket
This is a great Depression Era novel to use in the classroom to help students understand the struggles of the era, especially the plight of the Mexican farm workers as they struggle to adapt and survive in the United States. A great novel that shows how perseverance will overcome adversity.
This is a great novel to accompany a study of:
- Mexican Repatriation and how the Mexican Immigration Policy has been dealt with by the U.S. government in the past and present day.
- The Dust Bowl and migrant workers.
- The role of unions in the American economy
- Incorporate with a unit during Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-October 15)
I offer a complete novel study to accompany Esperanza Rising for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.
The book also leads to an in-depth exploration of the character study of Esperanza as she suddenly falls from her comfortable perch as the beloved child of a wealthy landowner surrounded by family and servants to quickly becoming a servant herself among an extended family of immigrant farm workers. The changes that Esperanza undergoes as she discovers herself and her strengths as she grows from a pampered child into a resourceful and responsible young woman are ripe for discussion and detailed study.
Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!
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