Multicultural Picture Book

Presented by Kelsi Ward

Butterflies on Carmen Street

By Monica Brown

Illustrated by April Ward

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This book is intended to be presented to 5th graders. In this book Julianita is excited for butterfly day. Her abuelito remembers the butterflies that invaded his hometown when he lived in Mexico. Julianita even gets her own butterfly to raise!

This book was a Finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award and was named to the 2008-2009 Tejas Star Book Award list.

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Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the author of many award-winning books for children. Monica's books are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children.

Learn more about the author at

Two words

Migrate- to pass periodically from one region or climate to another

I chose the word migrate because even though the word 'migrate ' is never used in the story, it is what is taking place when Abuelito and Ms. Rodriguez tell Julianita about the monarchs coming to Mexico in the winter time.

Molt- to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth

This word is used in the book when the caterpillar molts his skin before becoming a chrysalis. My students in my classroom do not know what this word means and so I want to elaborate it for them since it is a word that students will hear more of as they grow older.


1. Before reading, I am going to ask the students to look at the cover of the book and ask if they can predict anything about the book based on what is on the cover. Students may notice that there are Spanish words on the front or may notice the butterfly. Ask students if they know what type of butterfly is on the cover.

2. I will read until page 3 and ask students if they know what 'Abuelito' means from what's been read on the page and looking at the picture. Also ask students if they know what Abuelito is describing is called. If students need, prompt them by asking them what it's called when an animal moves from one place to another when the weather changes. This will be their introduction to the word 'migration.'

3. Stop again on page 7 to once again remind students about the word 'migrate' as Ms. Rodriguez is talking about the butterflies.

4. On page 9 ask students if they know what the word 'molt' means by asking them to think about the sentence it was just used in. Ask students to think of other animals that molt. Also ask students if they can infer the meaning of 'chrysalis' from looking that the picture.

5. Then tell students that their vocabulary words from the book are 'migrate' and 'molt.' They will be creating a word poster of the two words.

6. Hand out paper to the students and tell them that they are to write the word at the top of the paper, write the definition underneath, draw a picture of the word, and then at the bottom write a sentence using the word.

Key Strengths

1. Portray Cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters- insiders as authors of literature.

This book looks into Latino culture authentically. The names of the characters are authentic in their Latino roots, as are other features (sweet bread dipped in milk). The author herself is Latino and has Peruvian-American roots making this an insider look at the culture.

2. Include members of a minority group for a purpose other than filling a "quota"

This book is completely about the members of a minority group; not just including them to fill a quota. The story looks at butterflies through the eyes of the Latino culture and most if not all of the characters in the book are of Latino background. The purpose for this is to no just 'include' the members of this group, but to immerse the reader into the culture through the group's eyes.

3.Have an appealing format and be of endearing quality

This book is written in a way that appeals to children of all ages. Each page is colorfully illustrated in a unique style that captures the attention. The reader can look at the illustrations and see emotions; Julianitas joy, her amazement. The relationships with the main character's family are genuine and endearing to the reader.

5 Questions

1. Do you know what kind of butterfly this is? Do you know anything else about this type of butterfly or other types?

2. Can you tell me what you think Abuelito means by looking at what we read and his relationship with Julianita?

3. What is Abuelito talking about when he says that the butterflies go from Canada to Mexico in the winter?

4. Does anyone know what mold means? Can anyone think of other animals that molt?

5. Look at the picture of the butterfly in its chrysalis. By looking at this picture can you guess what this word might mean?


Why was this particular book selected? How did it “match” the funds of knowledge of this particular class/group of students?

  • I selected this book because there is only one student in my class that is not African American, he's Hispanic. I wanted to try and share a different culture with the class while also making him feel special/unique by knowing some of the Spanish words and information in the book. I felt that this book was just right for my students because the font was big and the words were simple but the length was just long enough to where it challenged them a bit. Most of my students are at a low reading level and so the simple words and big colorful pictures helped them follow along.

What were the strengths of the read aloud/the picture book/vocabulary teaching presentation?

  • The strength of the read aloud was that the students were introduced to different aspects of a culture in a non-boring way. They enjoyed looking at the pictures and talking about them when I asked them questions. Students who already knew some information about butterflies enjoyed expanding on what was in the book to their classmates. The read aloud presented new vocabulary in a fun and interesting way instead of "Here's the word, here's the definition."

What would I need to do differently next time?

  • I thought that if I told students the directions for their word posters that they would understand and be able to do it. I found that my students would not work and complained that they didn't know what to do. I then wrote the directions on the board, but even then, some continued to claim they didn't know what to do. I think next time I would have the instructions written on the board before having them do the posters and go over the directions together.

Respond to the following open-ended statement: Implementing multicultural children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me…

  • ...understand my students better and helped me get to know my focus student better. I was able to see what my students knew about another culture as well as hear about my focus student's culture from him as he compared his to the book.