This review was contributed by Brooks Lindner from Sonrisas Spanish School. He writes about a Day of the Dead book, El día de los Muertos.
When teaching children about The Day of the Dead, the challenge for Spanish teachers is to address the myths surrounding this Mexican holiday. Students can gain an understanding that there is nothing macabre, gruesome, or scary about Day of the Dead, but rather it is a day for families to remember their loved ones.
El Día de los Muertos by Mary Dodson Wade is a terrific book for helping students understand this. The book contains real life photographs that depict the practices and products of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. There are images of families visiting cemeteries, images of the traditional food and drink, and images of the traditional decorations for graves.
Short, declarative sentences explain the holiday in a way that is easy for children to comprehend. An example: “It is a happy time, not a sad one. Families visit the graves of people they have loved. Grownups talk about the person who died. Children learn about their families and their family history.”
Note that this book is written in English. At Sonrisas Spanish School we have always felt that teaching culture is one of the times when teachers are justified in using English in the classroom.
Standards 2.1 and 2.2 of The National Standards for Foreign Language Learning state that “Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices/products and perspectives of the culture studied.” El Día de los Muertos can be a useful teaching tool to achieve these standards. El Día de los Muertos is available for sale in the Sonrisas Bookstore.
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