What an exciting month September is! Not only is the beginning of a school year, new adventures, new learning and new journeys but it is also Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). Last year, I shared some details about this special month celebration. You can go back to that edition by clicking right here if you are interested in some basic facts.
One of the things that I love about this special month is the opportunity given to all of us to celebrate diversity in our world, in our classroom, in our school. It is up to each of us to ignore this month or to dedicate a couple of minute each day acknowledging this special celebration of cultures. It does not take a lot of effort or changes to our daily routine in order to make this happen. It can all start with a read aloud and followed it up with some discussion. With simple gestures and actions like this one, you can open a door of possibilities, of discussion, of appreciation and respect in your own classroom. Please understand that it is not necessary to have Hispanic students sitting in our classroom in order to celebrate this month. Remember that our students are citizens of the world, and it is our duty as educators to open up the world to them so they can live their lives with open minds and open hearts. Let's start that journey, shall we?
I would like to share with you a special book with you today. My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada. This is the story about a little girl named Maria who arrives at a new school when the year has already begun. Her teacher decides to call her Mary since there are already two Marias in the classroom. With this decision, came a string of problems for Maria because she did not respond to the teacher when she calls her. The problem is that Mary is not her name and her teacher is not understanding how special her name Maria is. Her name is more than a name, there is a story behind it, a special story about family and Puerto Rico.
When the teacher assigns a writing project entitled "My Greatest Wish" for the Winter Pageant, Maria sees this as an excellent opportunity to let her teacher know how she feels about her real name, the origin and special meaning it carries. Maria's Greatest Wish writing project is one that will get to your heart, without any doubt.
I define this story as unforgettable, inspiring and touching. It captivates the Latino culture with beautiful language and interpretation. One of my dear friends and 1st grade teacher at my school, Michelle, reads this story to her class every year. She also gives her young students a chance to write about "Their Greatest Wish" and year after year, their stories are captivating and inspiring. I look forward every year to see that display on her classroom wall. Today I invite you to take Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate it with the best ingredients anyone can ask for: BOOKS!
Enjoy the journey!