Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Diary from Here to There (Amada Irma Perez)

Summary of My Diary from Here to There (Amada Irma Perez)
Mi Diario de Aqui hasta Alla (Spanish Title)
Amada learns that her family must leave their little house in Juarez, Mexico for better opportunities in the United States. Both nervous and intrigued, Amada, along with her mother and siblings, stays with relatives in a border town while her father moves to California to get work and to secure green cards for them.  From waiting for all the preparations to be made for their immigration to their final move to a new country, Amada records her memories, fears, and hopes in her diary. 

Perez records each diary entry by Amada in both Spanish and English, representing her cross-cultural experience and family (her father is an Mexican American citizen). Amada expresses feelings typical for children in this situation.  She is sad to leave her home and friends as well as nervous about learning a new language and culture.  Her younger siblings annoy her, but close ties with her family and extended family are evident. Overall, Amada is hopeful and positive for their future.  The Latino voice and migrant experience are based on the author’s own journey to America as a child, making them genuine and vivid.   

Illustrator Maya Christian Gonzalez has created strong character images in bright colors contrasting with neutral tones.  She captures well the sense of community in the culture.  Nearly every page includes several members, often multi-generational, of Amada’s family close together. 

I chose to highlight this title because the topic is relevant and relatively new in the picture book world.  With millions of migrant and immigrant children in American schools, their experiences are important to share and to discuss in the classroom.  An additional picture book title to examine is Two White Rabbits.  While the topic is similar, the experience is quite different. 

My Diary from Here to There is a Pura Belpre' award winner.  I recommend it for ages 6-11.  

Lesson Plan Ideas and Extension Activities
  • Literature:  Read both My Diary from Here to There and Two White Rabbits.  Compare and contrast the two stories using a Venn diagram.  Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, a middle grade fiction, is also about the migrant experience.
  • Journaling:  Have students write about a time they were nervous or afraid because of a change or unknown situation. 
  • Social Studies:  Show a TV program in Spanish OR have someone present a short lesson in a non-native language.  Afterwards, discuss how the children felt as they listened.  How would they feel if instruction, signs, and everything around them were in Spanish/another language?  Connect it to Amada and other immigrants’ experiences. 
  • Writing:  Discuss the parts of letter.  Practice composing a letter (like Amada does).  Write to either a friend or relative who is far away.  Another idea is to connect students to a pen pal in other country to share cultural experiences. 
  • History:  Learn about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
  • Language Art Lesson Plan with multiple ideas and activities.  

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