I Know the River Loves Me

Mallory Galbreath, EDEL 411 Multicultural Book Talk

About the Book

Gonzales, M. C. (2009). I Know the River Loves Me, Yo se que el rio me ama. San Francisco: Children's Book Press.

Author and Illustrator
: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Dual Language

Theme: This book tells the story of Maya and her love of the river. She takes care of the river and the river takes care of her. Students learn to take care of and respect the wonderful natural world around them. The story is inspired by Gonzalez's love of the Yuba River in Eastern California.

Awards: Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Award Winner, Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Winner, American Library Association Notable Books, Americas Award Honorable Mention

Maya Christina Gonzalez reading I Know the River Loves Me

Maya and Armando read "I Know the River Loves Me"

About the Author: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Maya Christina Gonzalez is an author illustrator from San Francisco, California. She is an integral force in the LGBT and multicultural community and has spent her life creating portraiture reflecting these ties. Her primary calling is painting, and her love for illustration is apparent in her work. She has a publishing company with her partner Matthew that's purpose is to create and publish multicultural creative teaching materials for educators. Many of her books are written in both Spanish and English which makes her literature perfect for English language learners. For more information please visit her personal web site linked below.

Other Books by this Author


Maya Christina Gonzalez is a painter by trade. Her illustrations reflect her immense respect for color and form while still embodying the flow and curve of nature. In addition to I Know the River Loves Me and My Colors, My World, Gonzalez has illustrated over twenty children's books. Below are two examples from I Know the River Loves Me done in charcoal and ink. This is the first time that Gonzalez has used this type of material in her illustrations. The pictures show how deeply intertwined Maya and the river are. They are one and the same.

Criteria for Notable Multicultural Books

  • Language should reflect distinctive vocabulary, style, and patterns of speech of the cultural group. I Know the River Loves Me is a dual Spanish and English picture book. The story is enhanced by the link between the two languages, and the illustrations are understood across language barriers.
  • Be rich in cultural details. The colors that are used throughout the book are bright and lively, reminiscent of Gonzalez's Hispanic heritage. The setting is natural and unaffected by the modern world. It lends itself to traditional Spanish culture that celebrates nature and respect for the outside world.
  • Characters should authentically reflect the distinct cultural experiences of a specific cultural group. Maya is a young Hispanic girl with traditional long dark hair, almond eyes and tan skin (represented by shading). She plays in the river and is one with the natural world. She is not sitting at home watching TV or playing video games, but is out in the world experiencing the beauty of a river. This is an issue that plagues many cultures across the world. Students are more concerned with social media and technology than with the world around them.

Mallory Galbreath reading I Know the River Loves Me


I Know the River Loves Me by mallorygalbreath

Lesson Plan: I Know the River Loves Me

Grade Level: Second

Reading Standard
: RL.2.2 – Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

Objective: The students will identify the moral of the story and discuss how they can implement that moral in their own lives. The students will identify the respectful qualities Maya has for the river. They will discuss how they should treat the natural world in order to maintain and preserve it.

  • The teacher will open with asking the students what they like to do outside. She will be looking for playing sports, camping, playing in general. She will then ask the students how they treat nature. She will be looking for answers that relate to recycling, respecting the planet, not littering, and walking instead of driving etc.
  • The teacher will then read the book, "I Know the River Loves Me." She will ask the students to keep an eye out for how Maya treats the river. What is the setting of the river like? Are there a lot of boats and pollution, or is it clean and unaffected? The students will need to remember these details for discussion. Remind students that they will need to reference specific moments in the text. For example, Maya swimming in the clean river, how the river changes in the different months, and how Maya and the river take care of each other. The students can also note the illustrations that show the river flowing freely, filled with fish and plant life. The teacher will explain what a moral is (a lesson) and ask the students to note the moral of the story. The moral of this particular story is that we need to take care of the Earth and respect it, so we will have it for years to come.
  • Upon completion the students will draw their favorite place in nature and write a brief narrative on how they will continue to take care of it in the future. This will be their "moral." The students will need to show that they understand that a moral is a lesson that we learn from our daily life.
  • This book could easily be transitioned to different content areas. It could be the opening for a lesson on river life in science, or an art lesson on color and animals.
  • Since this book is dual language, it could also be used as the opening to a lesson on Spanish vocabulary. It would be helpful to a teacher with English language learners in her class.