Jun 8, 2011

Summer Reading

Yesterday was the last day of working in my classroom for the school year-- it is now officially summer! This is the first summer in three years that I am not taking any classes at the University and I am looking forward to doing something that I haven't had much time to do recently: read for pleasure!

I read a lot, but most of my reading is for teaching or learning. I miss being able to get caught up in the plot and emotion of a book. That is why I signed up for my local library's Adult Summer Reading Program at the same time I signed my children up for their Summer Reading Program. The best way to teach children to be readers is to model being a reader!

In the past I've found some real gems just by strolling through the stacks or looking at the patron recommendations' list at my library. My new familia at Multicultural Familia is inspiring me to revisit some of my favorites, though.  Here are a few multicultural novels that really touched me:

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Image via Wikipedia
This book really moved me. It caused me to think about my own spirituality, how it feels to be pulled between two cultures, and what it is like to believe in magic. Anaya captures the voice of a child beautifully in this story of Antonio, a boy growing up in Guadalupe in the 1940's and 50's. It was required reading for a Chicano Literature class I took and I am thankful that my professor introduced it to me.

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
Image via goodreads

This is one of the gems I discovered last summer through the list of recommendations written by my fellow library patrons. It is a novel about mothers and daughters, about cultural identity. The story describes the history of women who move between India and America, how they both cherish and sometimes fight their heritage. One wonderful part of this book is Pradhan's description of how food is used to celebrate and preserve cultural heritage. There are even recipes for the dishes described in the book! I enjoyed reading this immensely, and then enjoyed sampling Indian cuisine and exploring Indian film all summer. Before reading this novel, I really knew very little about Indian culture. It literally opened my eyes to a whole new world that I now really enjoy.

Image via Amazon.com
Deep River by Shusako Endo

Four Japanese tourists visit India. Each has their own spiritual journey as they travel the country during a time of great political turmoil. The book is very poetically written and very emotional. Reading it feels like floating, flowing, and being carried along the deep river of the title. I learned about both Japanese culture and Indian culture by reading this wonderful book. Quite simply...it is a beautiful novel.
Do you have any book suggestions? Please share! I would love to find some new books to read this summer!


  1. These all look awesome, Jen! The only one I've heard of is The Hindi-Bindi Club. You now know I'm adding these to my Goodreads, right? Are you on Goodreads? I'd love to see what else you've read. I think it's wonderful that you're reading for pleasure. Yay! I came back to reading for pleasure after taking several years off after our son's birth. Reading was the last thing on my mind. *LOL*

    A few titles you might find interesting:

    GOOD FORTUNE by Noni Carter about a young slave girl with a hunger for education.

    BORN CONFUSED by Tanuja Desai Hidier about an Indian girl trying to reconcile her Indian and American identities.

    BURRO GENIUS by Victor Villasenor about a Mexican-American boy's journey through the California education system with undiagnosed dyslexia (you probably already read this one, right?)

    We just got back from the 8th grade graduation ceremony for our son's school. I got all misty-eyed thinking about the future and how many bears our son will carry and have carried for him.

    Enjoy your time off and thanks for the awesome book recommendations and sweet comment on my blog earlier today. : )

  2. Oh ... oh... one more... THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie about a high-school age Indian boy growing up on a Spokane Indian reservation who dares to attend an all-white school off the rez. Awesome book. Edgy voice. He curses a lot, though. o_O

  3. Hi Ezzy! I am not on Goodreads--what is it? I got some of the book cover images there, but didn't check to see what the site is all about!

    I haven't read any of the books you suggested except for the Sherman Alexie book. My students and I read that one together soon after it came out and it was awesome! Since I teach alternative school kids, the cursing made it more realistic to them...lol. I will check out the others you mentioned--they all sound wonderful!

    8th grade graduation will make me misty-eyed, too. We are not there, yet, but my son will start 6th grade next year. On the last day of school this year my throat got tight thinking about next year's milestone. How does the time go so quickly? He had a bear named Barry as a baby and many "bear" friends that he's known since kindergarten who spend time at our house. They are all growing so quickly into young men. It is definitely bittersweet to see them now, with their acne and man-stink ;->

  4. Jen, you discovered Goodreads. : D Thanks for "friending" me. I should've sent you the link. Sorry 'bout that. Goodreads is a social-networking site for readers. I use it mostly to track my reading and to see who's reading, what. I've come across some really wonderful books that way.

    Sherman Alexie's book was one of my favorite's last year. I'd say top three. He writes honestly and is just "funny." I am a "book-kisser!" <3

    We're still six years away from that 8th grade graduation. I know mama will be a mess.


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