Armando and the Blue Tarp School

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"Armando and the Blue Tarp School" was written by Edith Hope Finn and Judith Pinkerton Josephson and illustrated by Hernan Sosa. This book was published in 2007 by Lee and Low Books.

This read aloud is planned for 4th graders. "Armando and the Blue Tarp School" is a book about a young boy who doesn't have access to education where he lives. He is given the opportunity to learn through Senor David who teaches on a blue tarp. This book has been recognized and awarded by the following:

Armando is featured on the summer 2008 cover of The California Reader
Picture Book Winner, San Diego Book Awards - 2008
Patterson Prize - 2008
Skipping Stones Honor Book
Bank Street - Best Children's Books of the Year List
Cooperative Children's Book Center "Choices" Best-of-Year List

This picture book demonstrates unique language and style with it's use of Spanish words intermixed with English. This aids the reader in understanding that Armando's native tongue is Spanish, he is only learning to speak English. The illustrations are rustic and colorful and showcase Hispanic culture. The illustrator is able to show interactions and expression through his pictures. The book shows authenticity as Armando is a humble boy who really just wants to better himself and learn about the world. The customs of his family are also explained as his family have always been trash pickers and this is the reason why his family doesn't know if he should be getting an education. This picture book invites readers to be hopeful and to look past their limitations, as Armando looked past his financial and economic status. The book also shows how one person can make a difference and how we should strive to be that person, like the man who owned the blue tarp.
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Edith Hope Fine and Judith Pinkerton Josephson are full time writer's of children's books. They actually met David Lynch, whom this story is based on, while free-lancing in Los Angeles. They have a website called GrammarPatrol and are the authors of the Nitty Gritty Grammar books. They have received numerous awards for their literature and both reside in California. These two women also consider one another very dear friends.
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Hernan Sosa is the illustrator of "Armando and the Blue Tarp School". He from Argentina and was raised in Paraguay. Sosa received a degree in visual communications from the Colorado Institute of Art. He currently works as an illustrator of children’s books and as a graphic designer focusing mostly on magazines. Sosa and his wife live in Denver, Colorado.

David Lynch

David Lynch is Senor David and he is the real man behind "Armando and the Blue Tarp School". David Lynch was a special education teacher in New York before he ever became involved with the pepenadores of Tijuana, Mexico. Lynch was convinced that education would be the key out of the situation many of the children in Tijuana were born into. Lynch's first school really was a blue tarp he spread out in the dumps of Tijuana. He exposed the children to the world outside of their colonia, Spanish for neighborhood, and challenged the students to learn and be aware. The authors of the book interviewed David Lynch while freelancing in Los Angeles and published an article about him. Soon after an anonymous reader donated money to build a school for the children in Tijuana. David Lynch was the founder of the first school in these children's neighborhood and was the reason many of these children's futures changed forever. In 2006 Lynch was honored with the World of Children Humanitarian Award which is given to ordinary people worldwide who do extraordinary work for children.


1. Ask students to come down to the carpet for Read-Aloud.
2. CHAMPS out their expectations for listening.
3. Introduce students to the book "Armando and the Blue Tarp School".
"I'm going to be reading a book about a young boy, who could be your age. This boy's life is not like yours though. He doesn't wake up every day dreading school, like some of you, because he doesn't have a school to go to. I want you to think about the similarities and differences between you Armando as I read this book."
4. Start reading first page and stop when getting to the word colonia, as this will be one of the vocabulary words the students will learn today. "A colonia is described as a neighborhood. Can you think of a gesture we can use for the word colonia?" decide on a gesture. "What do you think is different about your colonia and Armando's colonia?"
5. Read to the next page and ask students "How would you feel if you had class on a tarp for about an hour or so in a dump?" Have students share out.
6. Continue reading to page 7 and pause at the word pepenadores. "This is the next word we will focus on in this book. What is a gesture we can use for the word pepenadores? Remember it means "trash pickers." Decide on a gesture for this word.
7. "Could any of you imagine wanting to go to school so badly and not being able to because you had to work? How do you think that would affect the rest of your life?"
8. Continue reading to page 13. Here his father realizes he should be learning because it is important. "Education is important. We are given the opportunity here in the United States to learn so we should take full advantage of it."
9.Continue reading to page 19. "Do you think something like a fire, a natural disaster, changes a person? Will Armando be changed by this event?"
10. Read to the end of the book. "Armando now has an actual school to go to all because of the man with the blue tarp. He made a difference in their lives. Have you been kind to someone lately? Enough to make a different in their lives, maybe not like Senor David, but enough to help them learn or smile?" Have students discuss with their partners and then have them share out.
11. "What were the differences between our lives and Armando's lives?" Have students share out their opinions and go over the vocabulary words and their gestures.


I selected the book “Armando and the Blue Tarp School”, because my classroom has students with Hispanic backgrounds. When I first surveyed the room I didn’t feel like many of them were but as I asked my Cooperating Teacher and after watching them interact and share my Hispanic background I found out differently. The theme of this book could be that students need to have hope and also to be thankful for what they have. As fourth graders in this day and age, I feel like sometimes our students can lose sight of what is important and all they are blessed with.

I think that the strengths of this actual read-aloud was the use of gestures as the students were already familiar with that type of strategy. They liked being able to learn different words and had fun relating them to their own lives.

I would definitely want to try to do my lessons at the beginning of the day because I was only allotted thirty minutes at the very end of the day and the students were pretty tired and not as cooperative as they could’ve been.

Implementing multicultural children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has opened their eyes up to people and parts of this world that are different but still similar to them. They have been exposed to a person who is their same age and who has the same interests but does not have the same resources they do. Exposing students to these types of circumstances promotes them to be individuals who are culturally aware and diverse in their thinking.