Seis nombres, by John Sifert
Six names. Six stories. One choice. Words can be a helpful tool or a destructive weapon. They can produce strong emotions and intense reactions. Immigrants to the U.S. have had many barriers to becoming a part of American society. And one of their most difficult issues is dealing with the opinions of others. Based on six true stories in which the identity of Mexican-American girls are formed by the names they are called. This novel shows us that how we act, and react, to the words of others is important. Teachers, family, friends, and enemies can use words to build us up or tear us down. But do we have to let their labels define us? Level 2-3
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It is not easy to talk about complex topics in simple language, but this book will open the door to meaningful conversations about who we are, how we see others, and how our perspective of someone changes the more we learn about an individual's personal history. Students of Spanish will enjoy how each chapter builds to create a more complete story, little by little challenging the reader to see that even with emerging language skills it is possible to analyze and discuss significant themes like immigration, family, and hope for a better future.
Let's start there: the cover. The cover alone will get your students thinking and making educated guesses. Who doesn't love the open-ended questions posed to students? Teachers can learn so much. And this cover allows for that! What you can do for pre-reading!
Next, the artwork. It's phenomenal; even more so because it's student-created!
Now here's more rationale as to why you should take a look at this book for your classroom (or personal!) library:
The description of this book only tells part of its contents. And between the covers there is a treasure trove of lessons to be presented, discussed and learned - by teachers and students alike.
John Sifert, with his enormous empathetic heart and author's ability, has taken stories (with permission from all) from his immigrant students' experiences and crafted them into a story that everyone should read.
The name of a person is the first and most personal part of his/her/their identity. Yet too often other names are assigned to people, not of their choosing. This book, in accessible and comprehensible language, allows the reader to better understand what it might be like for those who are given other names, and how that might affect their identities.
Furthermore, each chapter of the book highlights a different theme, such as family, community, friendships, teenaged relationships, and the reasons for migrating to the USA - all of which provide just enough to start rich discussions with students who clamor to participate in meaningful dialogue.
Students will enjoy the stories in this book and teachers will enjoy that students are so interested as well.