As Spanish teachers, we work to introduce our students to the cultures and realities of Spanish-speaking countries, including the United States. Immigration stories are an important part of that experience, and there is no better way to share it with students than Voces Sin Fronteras: Our Stories, Our Truth.
Immigration is not an easy topic to tackle with students. Regardless of your background, it is difficult to represent the experiences of others. It is especially hard to give students an understanding of the complex issues involved in immigration.
The best answer is for individuals to tell their own stories, and for teachers to add additional context. In Voces Sin Fronteras, sixteen young people share their stories of immigration in comics. In my opinion, this side-by-side bilingual collection of graphic memoirs belongs in every Spanish and English class in the country.
Voces Sin Fronteras is published by the non-profit Shout Mouse Press. Learn more about the organization and purchase Voces Sin Fronteras: Our Stories, Our Truth on the Shout Mouse Press website.
Immigration Stories for Students
These immigration stories belong in our classrooms and our homes. Voces Sin Fronteras is bilingual, so the book can be part of any class taught in English. It is also an excellent choice for Spanish learners.
Read on to learn why these immigration stories should be a part of our classes and Voces Sin Fronteras should be in school libraries.
Mirrors and Windows
All our students need to read these immigration stories. They are the mirrors and windows we are looking for in literature.
For some students, these immigration stories will reflect their experience, affirming their identity. For others, the stories are windows to better understand others and appreciate the hope this country represents for so many.
Read What are mirrors and windows? on We Are Teachers for a discussion of this important concept.
Stories of Resilience
All students have struggles. As well as immigration stories, these are personal accounts of determination, resilience, forgiveness, and the decision to choose how to face your circumstances.
It matters that the authors of these stories are young people. There is no doubt that our students identify with their perspective differently than with an adult point of view.
Family Immigration Stories
As individual as these immigration stories are, they are also about family and culture. The collection as a whole speaks to the role family plays in immigration, to the inevitable sacrifices, and to the strength of family ties.
These young authors use direct language to tell their stories, focusing on specific periods and events in their lives.
For language learners, the straightforward language aids comprehension. In addition, these young authors have written their stories in Spanish and English, so Voces Sin Fronteras is an authentic resource to use with learners of either language.
The Power of Comics
These stories are comics and have a personal dimension that text alone can not convey. The graphics keep the age of the author at the time of the story at the forefront. In addition, readers literally see a representation of the experience.
Of course, comics also provide visual support to language learners. In addition, comics are concise by nature. Both of these features contribute to making Voces Sin Fronteras an excellent book to read with Spanish and English learners.
In addition to the graphic version, each story is told in prose in both languages. The prose version supports and expands on the comic, and is a fabulous language resource.
For more Spanish language books to use in class, visit our Spanish Books for Kids page.
Shout Mouse Press
Finally, I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of the non-profit Shout Mouse Press. Shout Mouse empowers youth from marginalized backgrounds to tell their stories. Through books such as Voces Sin Fronteras, their voices can impact us all. I encourage you to support Shout Mouse Press with your purchase and donation.
Talking about Immigration
We must talk about immigration with our students and children, but it can be a hard topic to discuss. By definition, immigration stories are stories of hardship, separation, and sadness.
This is true of Voces Sin Fronteras, but keep in mind these authors are writing from the United States. They say This is my story, and I am here telling it to you.
I am not saying Voces Sin Fronteras is a book of happy endings, because these stories are not over. Rather, young authors are sharing part of their journey with us. In turn, I believe we have a responsibility to share their stories with others.