TEACHING THROUGH CULTURE: Strategies for Reading and Responding to Young Adult Readers
This book's title is misleadingly broad for a work exclusively devoted to six Latino works of the 1990s: Anilú Bernardo's Jumping Off to Freedom, Diane Gonzales Bertrand's Trino's Choice, Judith Ortiz Cofer's Silent Dancing, Ofelia Dumas Lachtman's Call Me Consuelo, Floyd Martínez's Spirits of the High Mesa and Tomás Rivera's ...y no se lo tragó la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. Despite good intentions (to promote "the use of quality children's and young adult literature... written by diverse authors, representing multi-cultures" in daily curricula), Webster's text is flat and unimaginatively delivered. Addressed to teachers, the book offers a set format: each work gets a synopsis, historical background, critical reading skills addressed, vocabulary building and more. While admirable, the sketchy historical background is meandering. Minor nuisances abound (e.g., Webster refers to Ortiz's memoir as a novel), and the book's biographical information is inconsistent (e.g., Martinez's and Bertrand's names never occur in the chapters devoted to their work). Granted, Arte Público is the pioneer press in this area of literature, but that five of the six works treated, as well as 38 of the 58 titles in the "Bibliography of Suggested Young Adult Literature," are published by the press seems a heavy-handed promotion. (Dec. 15)
Forecast: High school English teachers hungry for Latino materials may find this useful, as it's one of the only books of its kind.