By Dr. Ma. Alma González Pérez
I first became interested in ABC/alphabet books while working with teacher interns at The University of Texas – Pan American. I simply felt they were unique as well as challenging from the writer’s point of view as one struggles to find the appropriate word or term to fit the corresponding letter. That, in itself, was fascinating to me!
My Advanced Spanish composition classes and I soon began writing our own alphabet books on different subjects. For Women’s History Month, students would write an ABC book on female role models in their community. For Día de los Muertos, they would write an ABC book on a loved one that had passed away. Interestingly, we began experiencing much success and self-fulfillment in our bringing our ideas to fruition. Thus, I decided to write a set of three alphabet books about the Hispanic culture.
The first one is titled ¡TODOS A COMER! – A Mexican Food Alphabet Book. The second one will be ¡TODOS A CELEBRAR! – A Hispanic Customs and Traditions Alphabet Book, such as the merienda, the piñata, etc. The third one will be ¡TODOS AL RODEO! –A Vaquero Alphabet Book, and it will shed light on the contributions that our Spanish ancestors made to the ranching industry in the New World.
I decided to write ¡TODOS A COMER! – A Mexican Food Alphabet Book because Mexican food has become very popular in the United States. That is why I feel it is important that children of all nationalities learn more about the ingredients and procedures of preparing the many delicious meals.
It is also important that Hispanic children, in particular, read more about their culture for a better understanding of the important contributions of their ancestors to the American way of life. In so doing, they will gain a greater appreciation of their culture and take greater pride in themselves, in their people, and in their history.
This alphabet book on Mexican food may be used as a read-aloud or for shared reading in the primary grades or for paired or independent reading in the upper elementary grades. Its purpose is twofold: to build background about Mexican food and to provide further discussion or extension of learning.
Each food description is followed by a question which the teacher or parent may solicit an oral response as part of an oral language discussion or use as a written response to the reading. This book may be also used as a reference source on Mexican food. .
Finally, we decided to complement and enhance each letter and food description with a photograph of an authentic dish or food from several restaurants as well as friends who so graciously agreed to collaborate with us on this project. It is our sincere desire that bilingual education teachers will find it useful, and that students will also find it both informative as well as enjoyable.