We are a family of readers. Chris and I each always have a book that we are savoring. My children read every day as part of their education. My 12-year old daughter, Kara, is a voracious reader and always has a book by her side. I require my 7 year-old son, Tristan, to read to me almost every day from a book at his reading level. We also read as a family at bedtime every night.
Our current bedtime selection is 360 Degrees Longitude, but I wanted to review/recommend a bedtime book we read a few months ago called Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Pam won many awards and honors for this book, including the Pura Belpre Medal. All of her accolades were well deserved.
The story follows Esperanza, a tween girl who was raised as part of the aristocracy in Mexico, but through a dark twist of fate is forced to flee to the United States with her mother. Like many immigrants in search for the "American dream", Esperanza instead finds hardship, poverty, prejudice, and overcrowding while working the farm fields in California. My children enjoyed the scene of Esperanza's first bath in America. She stands beside the tub and spreads her arms expecting the ladies to undress and bathe her as was the custom in Mexico. Needless to say, she is in for a rude awakening!
As with all the best books, Esperanza transforms right before our eyes. Kara did not like Esperanza at the start of the book, but she fell in love with the character by the end. Our protagonist changes from a privileged, entitled young girl to a hardworking, self-less, and tenacious woman. The plot is well-structured and the writing is flawless. This book generated excellent discussions with my children regarding social class, fair labor laws, immigration reform, racism, and courage.
I highly recommend this book for your children to read on their own (ages 9 and up) or as a family read.
Have your read Esperanza Rising? What are your thoughts on the book? Let me know in the comments below.