Esperanza Rising Lesson Plan
Students explore the challenges the main character faced in this story by award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan.
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
Esperanza's life on the ranch in Mexico is filled with laughter, riches, and the love of her well- to-do family. Shielded from the harshness of the world, her father teaches her respect for the earth and the servants who work on the grounds. A sudden tragedy forces Esperanza from her home in Mexico to a labor camp in California where she must work with other Mexican migrant workers. Esperanza and her mother work hard to fight the financial woes of the Great Depression era. Financial difficulties, awful working conditions, and rejection from those around her weigh heavily on Esperanza's soul. Although young and inexperienced, she must find the strength to survive in this new world.
Students will provide examples from the text to illustrate a theme of the book through character analysis.
Standard: Students will make inferences or draw conclusions about characters' qualities and actions (e.g., based on knowledge of plot, setting, characters' motives, characters' appearances, other characters' responses to a character ).
On the board write: "There is no rose without thorns" (p. 14). Have students locate the paragraph and explain what Abuelita means when she says this to Esperanza. Ask students if they agree with this statement. Why or why not? How does Abuelita's statement apply to Esperanza's life? Why does the author use this metaphor?
- Construction paper
- Explain that the above quotation ("There is no rose without thorns.") is one of the themes, or messages, of the book. Ask them to locate the thorns (challenges) in Esperanza's life.
- Students should find at least three to four challenges that Esperanza must face and explain how she meets these challenges.
- Finally, they should explain how meeting these challenges changes Esperanza for the better.
- Have students create a giant rose(s). Using construction paper, cut out large red petals. On each petal, have the students write down a challenge that Esperanza met and how it changed her.
- Have students create a personal rose for themselves in which they write about the challenges they face in their own lives and how they meet these challenges.
- For further discussion, have students interview immigrants or read biographies about immigrants. Compare and contrast the hardships Esperanza had to face to those of other immigrants. How is her story similar to other immigrants? What is unique about her experience?
Other Books to Compare and Contrast
Theme: Courageous female protagonist struggling to survive
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
Koly, a 13-year-old Indian girl, is engaged to be married. She must struggle to survive her cruel mother-in-law and a life of loneliness.
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
The story of a Pakistani girl growing up in the Cholistan Desert facing many of life's hardships.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Karena, a young Indian girl, is stranded on an island for 18 years.
Other Books by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Teaching plan by Gabrielle Nidus