Multicultural Picture Book

Read Aloud and Vocabulary Presentation

Ayla Beaugh

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What Can You Do with a Paleta?

Written by: Carmen Tafolla
Illustrated by: Magaly Morales

This read aloud is planned for first graders. What Can You Do with a Paleta? is a picture book about a young girl who introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children.


*2010 Charlotte Zolotow Award for Best Picture Book Text

*2010 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

Evaluate Picture Book

What Can You Do with a Paleta? invites reflection, critical analysis, and responses by asking what they would do with a paleta and which type of paleta they would chose. This picture book demonstrates unique language or style by using dual formatting of Spanish and English. This picture book also has an appealing format by using grabbing text features and many color illustrations.


A Paleta is a frozen fruit bar on a stick. This treat is specific to Hispanic cultures and are usually sold by street vendors. Paletas are similar to the American Popsicle.

In 1972, author Carmen Tofulla graduated from Austin College with a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and French. She then earner her Master's degree in Education the following year. She then earned a PhD in Bilingual and Foreign Education in 1981. Many of Tafolla's poetry is heavily influenced by her ethnic background. Her books have won many awards throughout the years.

Illustrator Magaly Morales was born in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. Her ethnic background provides inspiration for her bright and bold work.

Instructional Sequence "Talking Notes"

Questions are in bold.
"Oh class!"
"Oh yes!"
"Today, I have a very special book that I cannot wait to read to you but first I want to teach you some vocabulary words to help you understand the book. The first word I am going to teach to you is 'paleta.' Pa-lay-ta. Now it's your turn. Say paleta."
"Paleta is Spanish for popsicle. Has anyone had a paleta before?" (Have students share of their experiences with paletas. For example, where they had them and what flavor.)
"Now that you know what a paleta is, I want you to draw me what you think a paleta looks like using your white board and marker." (Students will draw paletas on board and show me. For students who still don't understand, use the pictures in the book to help students make the connection between a paleta and a popsicle.)
"I love how you all have very similar yet very different versions of a paleta! That tells me there are many different flavors of paletas! You guys were so smart and quick to pick up the definition of paleta, I think I'm going to give you a challenging word. Do you think you can handle it?"
"YES!" (Mrs. Giebler always adds little challenge phrases like that and her class eats them up every time. It helps keep all of her students engaged.)
"The word is 'accordion'. Uh-cor-dee-an. Say the word."
"Awesome! I love how everyone sounded it out the same way Ms. Beaugh did! All I'm going to tell you about accordions is that it is a type of musical instrument. With your pod group, I want you to brainstorm for one minute and after the minute is up, each group will act out what they think an accordion is." (Students collaborate for one minute and then take turns acting out an accordion. After each group has gone, show this video: and start at 0:28 seconds into the video and play for about 30 seconds or so until students understand what an accordion is. Acknowledge if any groups were successful in their demonstration of an accordion.)

"The very special book that I brought for you today is 'What Can You Do with a Paleta?' The author of this book is Carmen Tafolla and the illustrator is Magaly Morales. We know from Mrs. Giebler that the author writes the book and the illustrator draws the pictures that go into the book."
Read page 1. "Where do you think this story is taking place?" (house, neighborhood.)
Continue reading pages 2-6. "The author emphasizes what can you DO with a paleta. Think about it for a just a bit. What can you actually DO with a paleta?" (Eat it, share with family, give away as gift.)
Continue reading pages 7-20. "What did Tio do to help his team win the baseball game? (Offered the pitcher a paleta.) Why do you think he offered him a paleta? (To distract the pitcher.)
Continue reading pages 21-end. "It seems that the children in this book really enjoy paletas. Would you agree? Why do you think so many children love eating this treat?" (It is tasty, cold on a hot summer day.)


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

I chose this book because it related to my student population. The majority of my students (all but one) are Hispanic and most are bilingual. This book incorporates Spanish words that are easy to identify for Spanish and English speakers.

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

A strength of this lesson was the content of the book that I chose. My students were really engaged in the narrative because they have had paletas before.

What would I need to do differently next time?

I think that I could discuss the awards the book won and why it won those awards. I think my students would have found that interesting. Also, passing out of whiteboards and markers was a little trickier than I had imagined so I would probably find a more efficient way to do so.

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…relate to my students. Since I showed an interest in their culture, my students were very excited to teach me and tell me about their history with paletas. By choosing this literature, my students were able to connect with me on a personal level instead of me just reading to them any ordinary book.