I have been using the TPRS Publishing novel, Esperaza, with my 8th grade class and over halfway through the book, it has been a success.
My students have particularly enjoyed listening to the audio book as they read. I find it helps with the comprehension. And it has also inspired some students to go around the school chanting “Huelga… Justicia… Huelga… Justicia…”.
Speaking of justicia… one additional activity that I have done is to come up with a series of situations that students must decide are justo o injusto. We did this after chapter 3. As we continue through the book, we can now ask if what is happening is justo o injusto. If you are interested in this activity, you can find it here.
At the end of Chapter 5 and into Chapter 6, when the character’s husband goes to the US, we used the song and video of Enanitos Verdes “A las 3” to talk about immigration. The story is similar enough to Esperanza to make comparisons. We’ve got the lyrics as well as 2 stories that you can purchase here. You can use the video as a movietalk, or just as a reading activity. Students will then write their own version of this story/video. It is a great way to talk about the structure, “la llama” and to talk about what happens where people are apart. It was also a great addition to the song Fotografía Story we did earlier this year, as the man in this story also has a photo.
At the end of chapter 5, when Alberto is headed to the US and Esperanza is headed back to Guatemala, I have the students write a letter from one character to another to describe their lives apart from each other.
At the end of chapter 6, when Esperanza decides to leave her children, many students are left wondering how a mom could leave her children behind. I then read an except from the novel “Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazario, which can be found on the book’s website.
In this book, a mother makes the decision to leave her five and seven year old children in Honduras as she goes to the United States to earn money to provide for them. This gives students the insight of how difficult the decision is for the mother, but how necessary they feel it is. It always talks about the dangerous of such journeys. In this novel the boy, who grows up with a mom, can not deal with her absence, and after longing to be with her, decides to go find her and finally be with her. He is unsuccessful in his journey 7 times, but never gives up even after the horrors he sees along the way. You can connect this to the struggles of Esperanza of not wanting to “abandon” her child, but ultimately leaving anyway in order to give them a better life.
Once we continue on in the book, in chapters 7-8, we plan to use this interview with a coyote.
You can also use the song Pobre Juan by Maná which tells the story of a man crossing the border.
Check out these other immigration resources.