What Latino Literature Has for NISD

By Brittany Horn

Academic Honor Statement

I pledge, on my honor, to uphold UT Arlington's tradition of academic integrity, a tradition that values hard work and honest effort in the pursuit of academic excellence.

I promise that I will submit only work that I personally create or that I contribute to group collaborations, and I will appropriately reference any work from other sources. I will follow the highest standards of integrity and uphold the spirit of the Honor Code.:


Objective: After looking at their current book lists, teachers will evaluate the need for Latino cultured literature in classrooms. After this presentation, teachers will see the importance of this culture in our Texas schools and be able to implement lessons that connect their students with other cultures, specifically the Latino culture. Technology will be emphasized as a means of connecting, collaborating, reflecting, and sharing with others.

Evaluation: As an former HS English teacher and current instructional technology facilitator in the district, I will be a part of writing the 2014/2015 English curriculum for a variety of classes. I will ask teachers which books are incorporated that represent multicultural literature and also how technology can be a aid for connecting students with relevant texts and connecting students with other cultures. I will be able to see the curriculum implemented in 6 schools (5 elementary and 1 middle school) throughout the district. My focus will be on my specific schools and the implementation of curriculum through literature and technology implementation as an aid for learning.

Method of Analysis: Although I do not make requirement for curriculum, I am able to follow up with teachers the following year. I will be there to support the technology aspect of these lessons and will gather data through Google forms that will get the teacher's input on what was learned why reading and implementing lessons around Latino literature. I will also give a quick Google form or Padlet (www.padlet.com) discussion to several classes of various ages to poll their favorite books that year and which books they learned most from. This will be a good indicator of the impact of the multicultural literature and lessons that was implemented (maybe for the first time).

Why Latino Literature?


  • "Currently over 40% of U.S. school-age youth are children of color, the majority of whom are Latino" (Franquiz, 2011).

  • According to NISD Demographics for 2014, the district is 18% Hispanic. 72% of the population is white. While there is a big gap, the Hispanic culture is second and the most prevelant minority culture in the district.


  • Many of our ESL students are from Mexico. I personally worked with three students all from Durango, Mexico. These students are eventually fully included in English classrooms where connecting with literature is a key factor in engagement

  • According to sociocultural theory, children learn and develop literacy through interaction with more knowledgeable and experienced community members in a social, collaborative context (Rogoff, 1990; Vygotsky, 1978). As a result, children's literacy experiences are culturally defined, and parent--child interactions vary between and within cultural groups (Hines, 2009).

Cross Curricular:

  • On the secondary level, while French is offered for a few semesters, Spanish is the only foreign language course offered in district for four years if students decide to take it all four years. This means that while much of the population is White, they have some relation to the Latino culture in their Spanish classes.

  • Texas History TEKS include being able to note similarities and differences between cultures. As the TEKS for 7th Grade state, "Students examine the full state of Texas History including...culture of Native Americans, Spanish Colonial, Mexican National..." There are many links to the Hispanic culture and Texas History that can be tied to English literature.

The Pura Belpre Award

"The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."

According to Bura Pelpre in her video "Pura Belpre, A Story Teller," she states, "Every child deserves to be able to see his family his community, his self...at the same time they all need windows, they need to know about other worlds." While discussing Latino literature, all Pura Belpre books encompass the richness of experience that this culture has to offer. While searching for book choices, these books will be highly recommended.

Pura Belpre Award Winners 1996-Present:


Instructional Ideas Grade 1-5:

Latino literature is great for elementary grades as it is filled with bright engaging colors and fabulous story tellers. Themes of family and hard work are specifically present in children's books.

Connect with others:

As Routman points out, "Engagement is not to be taken lightly: "reading comprehension test scores are more influenced by students' amount of engaged reading than any other single factor" (Routman, 2003). One way to engage students in the reading process is to break down classroom walls and invite others in. Students can connect with authors and be invited into multicultural classrooms and cities through digital field trips and distance learning. Programs such as Skype video calling and Google Hang-Outs allow for virtual field trips, surprise guests, and even real authors who will share their experience live with the students.

"I believe that traditional narratives are best told by those to whom they belong, whether directed as indigenous or non-indigenous audiences..." (Bradford, 2011).

Connect with Self:

Without reader response and true application to the personal life of the reader, reading looses it's individualized unique connection with students. It is important for students to not only read about Latino culture, but to relate traditions, themes, and characters to their own culture and environment.

Several great ideas for doing this include:

  • Creating a presentation about traditions or foods around the world. After reading "Too Many Tamales," students could look at the Christmas traditions had by this family and respond with similarities and differences in their own cultures.

  • Have students bring in something that represents their own personal culture and relate it to the book that they are reading. One of the activities that the text explains is the "journey box." The idea of having students explore and share culture. Padlet, Google collaborative presentations, and another collaborative websites make creating a class mural of cultures a possibility. As an example, teachers could read "Diego Rivera His World and Ours" and have students complete a short visual of their culture first. Then students would add to the page until a wonderful collection of cultures comes together on one page. With the technology aspect of this project, we could then share our page with other classes around the district, nation, or even the globe to get feedback and learn from one another.

  • Word Clouds and link to vocabulary and language. Another great visual is highlighting key words on language, culture, and characters, and creating class word clouds to truly grasp important details. www.taxgedo.com is a great website for this activity for all ages. Here is a picture of a word cloud created in Kindergarten:

Picture Top Right: "Personal Image" Professional Engineer Speaking to a Second Grade Class.

Below are several recommended books, along with Pura Belpre award winners.

Picture Below: "Personal Image" Word Clouds Created by Kindergarten Students.

Video Below: Tutorial made by Brittany Horn Explaining How to Set up Skype in Your Classroom.

Skype Tutorial WRAD

Instructional Ideas Grades 6-12

Latino literature is vital for secondary for many reasons, but some of the main ones being that it encompasses themes rebellion vs. consent, identity, and seems to capture the interest of many young male readers. Gary Soto truly writes for all audiences as he weaves adventure and sports into many of his novels, several examples include "Taking Sides" and "Baseball in April."

According to "Teaching Latina/o Childen's Literature in Multicultural Context," "Franquiz planned activities that presented her students with opportunities to exhibit consciousness of their growing identity" (Franquiz, 2011). The rich implementation of these books will not stop after reading, but will come in connection, reflection, and communication with others.

Several ways to encourage personal reflection and authentic communication include:

  • Book Clubs. It is vital that students reflection on their own and share with others who may or may not come from backgrounds similar to theirs. On a study of adults reading "Before We Were Free," Franquiz recollects, "the more linguistically and culturally diverse the small groups in the classroom were, the deeper they delved into critical reading of the text and negotiation of meanings and identities...The historical fiction novel, afforded teachers with many opportunities to learn about themselves, about others, and about their own students" (Franquiz, 2011). There is a richness in learning from differences that can start at a very young age.

  • Pairing unit with books that students choose according to interest and reading level. This site: http://www.lexile.com/fab/ is a great resource for helping students find books that are relevant and appropriate for their purpose.

  • Exploring other cultures and relating them to their own. www.padlet.com, www.emaze.com, and other collaborative programs and websites allow for students to research and share visual, audio, and appealing works with others as a way of revealing their identification with literature and the world around them.

Picture Top Right: "Personal Image" Padlet presentation on culture in a Spanish class

Below are several recommended books along with Pura Belpre Winners.

Plan of Action

As a part of writing curriculum this Summer, each teacher must include a variety of multicultural literature pieces as well as technology components to their curriculum. The department head will review the curriculum and I will be supporting the Instructional Technology side of these lessons. At the end of the year, students and teachers will complete a Google Form that answers the following questions for data the following year:
  • What was your favorite book read this year and why?
  • What was one book that you read about another culture?
  • What did you learn about other cultures around the world?
  • How did technology help you while discussing and sharing your thoughts on books?

This data will be shared with department heads and will provide us with relevant feedback from a range of grades and campuses that will play into the next year's curriculum writing session.