December 2011

One of our favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season is — no surprise here — with books! This newsletter is filled with book recommendations and gift ideas, as well as some tips on culturally responsive holiday lessons in the classroom.

Type of Newsletter: TELLEGRAM
Date: December, 2011

Dear Subscribers:

One of our favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season is — no surprise here — with books! This newsletter is filled with book recommendations and gift ideas, as well as some tips on culturally responsive holiday lessons in the classroom.

We're looking forward to sharing lots of new ideas and resources in the New Year, and we wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Thank you for all of your contributions to Colorín Colorado during 2011!


The Colorín Colorado Team

Don't Miss…

Culturally Responsive Instruction for Holiday and Religious Celebrations

This article written for Colorín Colorado by Cynthia Lundgren and Giselle Lundy-Ponce offers some great ideas for bringing cultural content into the classroom in a way that increases all students' knowledge and interest while at the same time being respectful of the culture being featured. Additional articles about culturally responsive instruction in the ELL classroom are featured in our For Educators section.

Teaching Tolerance Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the recipients of the first-ever Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching! The award recognizes educators who have demonstrated excellence in teaching students from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Maureen Costello, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program, notes, "We hope this event not only recognizes their successes but highlights the importance of culturally responsive teaching in today's increasingly diverse classrooms." This year's award recipients include the following educators, whose profiles are available on the Teaching Tolerance website:

  • Silvestre Arcos of New York, NY
  • Soñia Galaviz of Nampa, ID
  • Katy LaCroix of Ann Arbor, MI
  • Amber Makaiau of Oahu, HI
  • Tracy Oliver-Gary of Burtonsville, MD

School Attendance: A Key to Success

As your families are preparing for upcoming winter vacations, you may find it helpful to address the topic of extended student absences with ELLs and their parents. Consider using the book Going Home by Eve Bunting as a basis for your discussion, as well as these tips in English and Spanish. You may also find the book helpful to share with colleagues who have limited experience working with immigrant families.

Books and Authors

Book of the Month

Grandma's Gift
By Eric Velasquez

It's Christmastime, and Eric has a special assignment — he has to write a report about a new painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eric's grandmother makes a deal with him: if he will help her make traditional Puerto Rican pasteles, she will take him to the museum. Together they leave Spanish Harlem and venture out to the Met, where Eric encounters a painting that changes his life. A note from author and illustrator Eric Velasquez provides some background to this quiet yet profound story from his childhood. Winner of the 2011 Pura Belpré Illustration Award.

Reading: The Perfect Gift

For some great suggestions of bilingual books, magazines, and children's music, take a look at our holiday gift guide, also available in Spanish!

New Booklist! 20 Beautiful Books

We know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover…but every once in awhile, you find a book so beautifully written and illustrated that it takes your breath away. If you're looking for something extra special for a young reader — or not-so-young reader — in your life, take a look at these enchanting titles. You won't be disappointed!

Your ideas: What beautiful books inspire you? Let us know through an e-mail, Facebook, or the Ning!

Featured Booklists: Holiday Tales and Gift Ideas

If you're looking for a book to share in the classroom or with someone special, check out the following recommended titles!

  • Holiday Tales: Colorín Colorado presents some bilingual holiday books to share with your students and family, including depictions of Las Posadas and a trilingual Hannukah book available in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish!
  • Native American Christmas Tales: In these wonderful holiday tales, find out what happens when Coyote goes Christmas shopping and when children in the Arctic Circle who haven't seen trees before are presented with strange, spindly Christmas trees!
  • Reading Rockets' Annual Holiday Book Guide: Find the perfect book for a child in your life during this season of giving. You'll (yule?) find picture book biographies, science stories, favorite series characters (hello Clementine!), cookbooks, mythology, alphabet books with a twist, graphic novels, audio books, board books for wee ones, trickster stories, poetry, and so much more. For kids 0 to 9 years old.
  •'s Holiday Gift Guide: Books make a wonderful, thoughtful gift for tween and teen readers. The books listed here are perfect for reading together as a family — or independently — to spark conversation, debate, or memories of past events in your own lives.

Holiday Book Giveaway!

Enter our raffle for one of the following titles:

  • Grandma's Gift by Eric Velasquez
  • The Storyteller's Candle by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre (signed by the author)
  • The Road to Santiago by D.H. Figueredo and illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla

To enter, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado with "Book giveaway" in the subject by 11:59 p.m. on December 22, 2011, and indicate your title of choice!

[One entry per family. Winners of any previous Book Giveaways are ineligible to win any other Book Giveaways for a period of one (1) year from the date of the Book Giveaway. See complete contest rules here.]

In the Classroom

Reading Comprehension Strategies for English Language Learners

Comprehension is the reason for reading, but it can be the most difficult skill to master — especially for English language learners (ELLs). There are a number of ways, however, to build ELLs' comprehension skills. Often standard strategies that are used in mainstream classrooms are a good starting point — they just need to be tweaked with ELLs' language and academic needs in mind! This article written by Colorín Colorado Manager Lydia Breiseth focuses on strategies that are part of three main approaches: building background knowledge, teaching vocabulary explicitly, and checking comprehension frequently.

Reading A Christmas Carol with ELLs

Each year, ELL teacher Michelle Lawrence reads an adapted version of A Christmas Carol with her high school students in Buffalo, NY. Learn how she prepares students for reading and monitors comprehension in the "Story setup" and "Making connections" segments of our Watch & Learn video series. Even Scrooge himself would be impressed at the enthusiasm with which her students take on this classic holiday tale!

National Latino Children's Literature Conference 2012!

The next National Latino Children's Literature Conference will be held on March 29-30, 2012 at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. The conference will include workshops, keynote speeches, and a special event at the Tuscaloosa Public Library on the evening of March 29th. Organizers have confirmed the following Latino authors and illustrators: Joe Cepeda, René Colato Laínez, Meg Medina, F. Isabel Campoy, Alma Flor Ada, John Parra, and Monica Brown. Proposals are still being accepted and registration is now open! We have attended this conference in the past and highly recommend it to teachers, librarians, and reading specialists.

Research and Reports

Teacher Voices: Immigration, Language and Culture

This report from the College Board, the National Writing Project, and Phi Delta Kappa International shares the stories of six teachers who believe in the power and promise of immigrant students and English language learners. Their stories highlight the assets these groups of students bring to our classrooms, the challenges that both students and their teachers face, and the role that teachers and schools play in their students' lives. The teachers profiled work across a variety disciplines, locations, kinds of schools, and student populations. Videos featuring each of the teachers accompany the report.