Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Questions to engage your readers
One of my favorite moments teaching was when I looked across my classroom and saw every student fully engaged in a novel. No one was off task. No one was playing around. No one was distracted. They were all engaged in the novel we were reading.
A great way to get students engaged in a book that is required for them to read, is to provide questioning that allows them to see themselves in the characters and circumstances in the book. Everyone’s lives and backgrounds are different, but there’s always a connection we can make at the core of who we are.
In Esperanza Rising, there are some key topics that you can address to help your students understand the characters and evaluate the choices the characters make.Then, they can take it a step further and decide what they would do in that particular situation.
Would you rather be rich and unhappy or poor and happy?
Before reading Esperanza Rising, i asked my students to think about the following question: Would you rather be rich and unhappy or poor and happy? After they made their decision, I asked them to stand on opposite sides of the rooms based on their answers. I gave them time to discuss with each other why they chose those answers. They discovered if they had the same reasoning or multiple thoughts that led to those decisions. Then, we discussed as a class. They took turns sharing with the opposite group their opinions and responding to each other. Afterwards, they were ready to dive into Esperanza’s story and see her journey reflected in this question.
How do you determine when to give up or when to persevere?
During the book, there are times when the option to give up is there. Ask your students how do they determine when to persevere? What gives them the strength to persevere?
Would you strike for rights or work to pay the bills?
Your students will see the dilemma when it comes to striking. Yes, everyone wants fair wages and fair working conditions, but how are they supposed to take care of their families if they strike and make no money. Ask your students what would they do. Which is more important to them? Do they agree with he characters’ choices?
What is important in life? Most valuable?
We see a lot of changes in Esperanza. Her circumstances has changed what she views as valuable. Ask your students what they believe is important in life? What do they value? Has their life experiences influenced what they consider valuable?
This is a book I have seen student after student, class after class, grow to love. Students can reflect on their own story as the read about Esperanza’s. This is a book that will inspire your students to persevere, have grit, and rise to the occasion.