Get discussion questions, extension activities, vocabulary boosters, a booktalk, and more ideas for teaching with Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
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.
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?
Theme: Courageous female protagonist struggling to survive
by Gloria Whelan
Koly, a thirteen-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
Karana, a young Native American girl, is stranded on an island for 18 years.
Teaching plan by Gabrielle Nidus
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 ).