Recommended Reading: En comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students

I’m really excited to share this wonderful book with you. Whether you’re teaching your heritage classes with a workshop model or not, I think you will find this book valuable.

Honestly, I was kind of in love with this book before I even opened it, because this cover is beautiful! It drew me in and I sat down right away to read the foreward by Ofelia García. I found myself texting pictures of quotes to a former Heritage learner of mine who is now studying to be a Spanish teacher. As expected, she felt seen in the quotes I shared with her, which reinforced for me the value of this text.

The book consists of a series of paired lessons that are designed for English Language Arts or Dual Immersion teachers. I know, you’re saying, “Wait, but I teach heritage Spanish. Is this book for me?” In my opinion, the answer is 100% yes! The lessons focus on ways to encourage students to use all of their language practices in their learning. The lessons explore students’ identities and heritage, using a variety of texts (again, I’m using text in a broad sense: picture books, video clips, interviews, poetry, music, etc.) as models of how to improve as readers and writers.

Another thing to know is that the book says it is written for grades 3-8. However, the lists of possible texts are engaging and appropriate for older students, and the lessons are easily adapted to high school. Many of the recommended and alternate texts that are listed are in Spanish, others are in English, some are bilingual and some are available in both Spanish and English.

One thing I love about this book is the explicit focus on teaching and encouraging students to use translanguaging in their learning. Rather than force students to use one language all of the time, we can encourage them to further their development of all of their languages. This is important to me because one of the goals for my class is to develop literacy skills that transfer to other areas of students’ lives. Seeing the shock on their faces when I tell them it’s okay to use English in their writing is always amusing. But reading the finished product when they’ve seamlessly moved between languages is just beautiful.

Even though I haven’t finished reading the whole book yet, I’ve read several of the lessons and am excited to implement them in my Heritage classes this year. They fit perfectly with reading and writing workshop, and are so well-designed to support our Latinx students as they develop their language skills.

You can check out this Heinemann blog post outlining some of what you’ll learn from this book.

And enjoy this podcast featuring the authors here.

Finally, don’t miss this incredible Padlet of resources put together by the authors.

The book is available for purchase from Heinemann and can also be purchased from Amazon.

What have you been reading for professional development? I am addicted to books, but have found reading during this pandemic really difficult. I’m hoping to wrap up reading this fabulous book before school starts, but if not, it’s okay because I have gleaned so many great ideas from it already!

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