People often migrate to other places as a direct result of political turmoil. Some picture books like Good-bye, Havana! Hola New York! (Simon and Schuster, 2011) recall such moments. This book is set in 1960 when Cubans were responding to Castro’s dictatorship. Edie Colon uses her personal experience and her parent’s memories as a starting point to tell the story of a young girl, Gabriella, who relocates from Cuba to America. Raul Colon’s beautiful illustrations take us back in time to life in the 1960s.
Leaving behind the familiar is a common theme found in many multicultural picture books. However, few children’s authors have written about Cuba in the post revolution years. The initial setting of the story provides an opportunity to discuss Cuba’s history or how revolutions affect people. This historical information can be used to enhance a social studies unit while the emotional aspects of the story can provide talking points that connect students to their adjustment experiences after relocating. Second language learners as well as students who have relocated will be able to relate to Gabriella’s feelings as she settles into her new environment.
Spanish speaking students will feel at home with the frequent use of Spanish sentences interspersed within the text. This makes the story user friendly to students whose primary language is Spanish. The Spanish vocabulary should not distract others from the story. A glossary is provided at the back of the book.
- Cuban History
- Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution
- Political inspired migration
- Effects of migration on families
- Adjusting to a new culture or environment
- Families living in separate countries
- Family relationships: parent-child and parent-grandparent
- Compare and contrast between different cultures
- Writing stories based on personal experiences
- Can you share a picture book that depicts life in the 1960s?
- Is there an ideal age for historical picture books?