A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Esperanza Rising is an award-winning work of historical fiction that chronicles the life a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s. In the book's beginning, Esperanza's wealthy father is killed by bandits in Mexico; then, a scheming uncle sets fire to her house and family ranch in order to pressure her widowed mother to marry him. Fleeing to California, Esperanza tries to adjust to the cramped, exhausting life of a farmworker. Thanks to a supportive family and network of friends, she keeps hope alive and begins to work for a new future. Readers will learn a number of Spanish words and about the lives of migrant farm workers during the 1930s as characters deal with strikes, discrimination, harsh living conditions, and more.
What's the story?
Esperanza, the daughter of a wealthy grape grower in Mexico, leads a charmed life -- until bandits kill her father. One of his brothers pressures her mother to marry him, but after he burns down the ranch, Esperanza, her mother, and a family of former servants escape to California to become farmworkers. There, Esperanza must learn to work hard, which proves difficult for a girl who doesn't even know how to use a broom. After her mother is hospitalized with Valley Fever, she joins the field workers through the various crop seasons. But there is more trouble: Some Mexican farmworkers are striking, and other migrants are arriving from other areas, threatening to drive down wages. Esperanza struggles to keep her family together -- and her hope alive.
Is it any good?
This is a beautiful book that remains educational and inspirational more than a decade after its publication. Readers will sympathize with Esperanza, who must learn to work hard after living a life of luxury -- but more than that, they will be amazed by the strength she shows as she adjusts to the difficult life of a migrant farmworker. Eventualy, she begins to create her own dream for her life in California. Her story, told with Spanish expertly woven in with the English, may inspire readers to learn about their own family's immigration to America, the plight of farmworkers in the 1930s -- as well as the struggles of farm families living in America today.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Esperanza's story compares with your own family's story of immigrating to America.
This book won a Pura Belpré award, which, according to the American Library Association, is given to "a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth." Why do you think an award like this is necessary? Have you read any other of the winners?
How does Esperanza's life in California compare with the lives of farmworkers today?
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