Multicultural Read Aloud!
By: Colin Gould
The book has been highly regarded, and has even been considered in The New York Times 100 Best Children's Book list.
Debbi is the author of "El Barrio"
This is one of the neighborhood celebrations. They have salsa music, dancing, and a cookout!
One picture of the neighborhood. The illustrator uses bright colors to show the beautiful murals and vibrant city.
Author, Illustrator, and Culture of "El Barrio"
David Diaz has been drawing since he can remember. At first for fun, then as an outlet for personal struggles, Diaz has been a true artist for a majority of his life. In school he was inspired by teachers to participate in contests, many of which he won. He went on to do graphic design work, then moved over to illustrations later on. As an illustrator he has won awards such as his Caldecott Medal in 1995.
"El Barrio" discusses many traditional Hispanic activities. We learn about how some of the neighborhoods are filled with beautiful murals, and vegetable gardens instead of lawns. They discuss how quinceaneras are celebrated with music, dancing, and food. The girls give away their dolls to show they are entering womanhood. Salsa and tejano music are often chosen for celebrations. Typical celebrations include "Day of the Dead", "Cinco De Mayo", and birthdays. This book gives us a neat look at how Hispanic cultures celebrate life and death, and the illustrations are beautiful.
- Demonstrate unique language or style - As far as the writing went, it did not go too in depth about the holidays except for quinceaneras. The language was fairly diverse, using words like "El Barrio", "Bolero", "La Iglesia", and corona. But what stood out to me was the illustrations that David Diaz created. They really gave life to the words Chocolate wrote.
- Meet generally accepted criteria for the genre - "El Barrio" would be considered a multicultural children's picture book. In my opinion this book fully meets the criteria of this genre. There are lots of beautiful pictures that enhance the reading experience. The vocabulary used within the book is that of which is an appropriate level for children in primary grades. There is a noticeable multicultural aspect within the book with its Hispanic traditions and English language writing.
- Includes members of a "minority" group for purpose other than filling a quota - Even though there is a high Hispanic population in the United State, a majority of people can gain insight into some traditions within the Hispanic culture. The purpose of the book is to teach about and show pride in how Hispanic people live.
- "El Barrio" - These words are Spanish for "the neighborhood".
- Murals - This word means a piece of artwork usually applied directly to a wall.
Implementation of Read Aloud and Vocabulary
- First I introduced the book, including the title, author, and publisher.
- Second I introduced my two vocabulary terms. I told them the meaning of the two words, and explained my activities for each. For "El Barrio" I told them every time I said the term I wanted them to repeat back to me "The Neighborhood". For murals, every time I said this word I wanted them to pretend they were painting a mural on a wall, but just in the air.
- Third, I did a picture walk. As we went through the pages I asked them a couple of questions. I asked: "What do you notice about the neighborhood the boy lives in? How is it different than the neighborhood you live in?" I also stopped at the picture with the people dancing to music and asked: "What do you notice about this picture? What might they be celebrating? When have you been to a celebration like this?" Once I asked these questions I started the book.
- Fourth I read through the book, stopping to ask a couple of questions. On the page with the pinata I asked "Where have you seen a pinata before? Why are they used during celebrations?" When I got to the picture with murals on the walls I asked "Where in Wichita might you see murals on the walls?" After getting my responses I finished the book.
- Fifth on my list, after the book was done, I summarized and asked a one more question. We talked a bit about quinceaneras in the book, so I asked "How is a quinceanera like the birthday parties that you are used to? How is it different?"
- Lastly, after everything was said and done I asked for questions, but mostly got comments. They enjoyed the book very much!
One of my strengths is how I read. I am used to reading to children, so I am pretty colorful. I know when I need to stop to let things sink in, and how to get the most out of each page. I think my strategy for the vocab words worked pretty well too.
What I definitely need to do different next time is give some better parameters for the voice level when repeating back the definition. At first the students were not getting into it. So I unwittingly told them to "go ahead and say it as loud as you want!" That was a bad idea. They got pretty noisy and may have interrupted other classes. I could have also taken more answers on my questions.
Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me better understand students with a similar background to those in the story. It has shown me the importance of, as well as how to treat topics that are culturally sensitive. It has shown me how to better prepare for a read aloud, and how to perform them future classes.