I went overboard and included several videos of Yuyi talking about the book because hearing her explain her art is so impactful and you will experience the book on a whole new level. Part of what I love about this book is that is reminds me of my mother. I've heard her describe experiences that Yuyi illustrates and it makes me proud of my mom. I admire Yuyi's resilience- bringing her child to another country and through adversity, teaching herself a new language and creating beautiful treasures for all our children to learn from. -Dena
Social Justice Activities:
Explore the multiple identities of the main character: Mother, Immigrant, Mexican, Reader, Author, Artist and empower students to express their multiple identities through art, as Yuyi Morales does. (Identity 1)
Listen to the author below (minute 5:24) to humanize the immigrant experience for students. Explore the social challenges that she illustrates, like being afraid to answer the phone, not speaking the language, and not being able to navigate her new place well because it required reading maps (video 33:55). (Diversity 10)
Relevant Social Justice Standards:
Identity 1: Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society.
Diversity 10: Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.
Inference: Readers infer that the main character teaches herself to read by using library books. We also learn from the videos below that reading picture books inspired Yuyi to later become an author/illustrator.
Compare & Contrast: Compare and contrast this text (fiction) with an information text about monarch butterflies or bats (see video).
Story Elements: Plot, Setting, Problem Solution
Metaphors: The monarch butterfly is a metaphor for immigration.Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.
- Fiction, All Ages
- Perspectives: Immigrant, English Learner, Mother
- Author's stated heritage: Mexican
- Subject Integration: Art, Science
Learn from the Author
The entire video is worth watching but here are the parts that are particular helpful when teaching the book:
5:24-8:56 Explains why she chose to write a book about immigration. She also explains the animal metaphors in the book and compares them to her own experience.
54:02-1:01:27 Gives beautiful details about the family and cultural symbolism of so many of the illustrations like the regalos (presents) in her backpack.
42:31-52:00 Inspires children to write and tell their stories, even if they don't feel the have the words yet. She also shows children how to make their own books.
33:55-37:45 explains the challenges of not speaking the majority native language and how she incorporated that experience into the book.