Twenty-four scholars from around the world and a myriad of world-class artists collaborated with a South Florida art teacher to reach children with the art of their cultures (Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Brazil , Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala and United States). On June 22-23, Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center will host Rebecca Hinson who will present “Creating the Art of the Americas Children’s Book Series and How You Can Create Your Own,” in Room 220 of the MMC Green Library from 1:00-4:00.
For four years, LACC funded the development of Hinson’s Twelve South American Children’s Art Books for grades 3-8 as part of their U.S. Department of Education NRC Title VI grant. As part of the grant, Hinson is partnering with CRF and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to provide professional development for teachers June 22-23.
“My kindergarten art student, Tomas, never smiled, spoke or looked you in the eye. For years I tried everything to contact him, but nothing worked. worked,” Hinson said. “In fourth grade, I taught his class the art of Tecún Umán, a Mayan prince who fought against the Spanish conquistadors. At the end of this lesson, Tomas got up from his seat. He stepped forward. He looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you. Of all the things I had tried, it was the art of her own culture that spoke to her heart. At that moment, I realized how powerful art was and felt it needed to be shared. In 2010 I wrote Tecún Umán and dedicated it to Tomas Reynoso Juan, my inspiration.
“When children migrate to the United States, they are sometimes ashamed of who they are and where they come from,” Hinson said. “Schools often lack materials that reflect their cultures of origin. My 48 children’s books inspire pride in newcomers and teach them about their new country, the United States of America. I have just released free audios (with images) of six South American books and eighteen other Caribbean, Central and North American books in their entirety via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Follett School Solutions, Amazon and I sell printed books in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.
You can see and hear all 24 books on Instagram:
Hinson’s titles were written for practical application in K-12 art, history, reading, social studies, ESOL, and foreign language classrooms, with questions dependent on the text for each title. The Spanish editions were written by Claudia Battistel Tomada, Ph.D. and Gabriela Escobar Rodríguez, Ph.D. The Haitian Creole titles were written by Jacques Pierre.
Liesl B. Picard, Associate Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University, said, “I appreciate Rebecca’s continued partnership. I am delighted to support his efforts and look forward to continuing our work to promote Latin America and the Caribbean.
“A big thank you to Liesl Picard and the CRF for their continued support,” Hinson said. “I love working with the teachers at M-DCPS. They are very learned. They show up ready to work!
“Deep gratitude goes to my incredible editors, John Robuck and Richard Lederer. Many thanks to Claudia Battistel Tomada, Gabriela Escobar Rodríguez and Jacques Pierre for writing beautiful editions in Spanish and Haitian Creole. Many thanks to the scholars who guided along the way: Marjorie Agosín, Simone Athayde, Roy Bartolomei, Guillermo Duberti, Laura Duberti, Laurent M. Dubois, Brian D. Farrell, Nora Erro-Peralta, Philippe Girard, Richard Lederer, Mary Ellen Miller, Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya, Walter Paul, Bianca Premo, John Robuck, Inés Quintero, Michael E. Smith, Stuart Schwartz, Orin Starn, Rebecca Stone, Tomás Straka and Edward Z. Wronsky,” Hinson said.
“If we teach students where they come from, reading and math scores go up. Each group and each student should feel part of the education process,” said Dr. Bernadette Kelley.
“Can culture lead to academic success? As a teacher, I understand that a child’s connection to their culture is a powerful tool,” said Rebecca Hinson. “If a child sees their culture honored in my class, it makes school a place where they belong. If a child sees positive representations of their culture in my classroom, it’s a mirror that says, “I can do well here.” My books reflect and validate student identities from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and North America, and provide students with a window to explore other cultures.
Why multicultural art books? The best predictor of future high school graduation is as follows. Does a child read at grade level at the end of third grade? Of all the major urban school districts in Florida, M-DCPS has the highest third-grade reading scores, despite the fact that 50% of their students were born outside of the United States. “As educators, we understand that culture is a great motivator, especially in a county as diverse as ours,” said Bob Brazofsky, executive director, Social Sciences, M-DCPS. through authentic art excites and attracts our students.”
Purchasing books for the Palm Beach County School District, Dr. Cathy Pressey said, “These text-dependent books and questions align well with standards for reading informational text and history/social studies literacy. . They are an incredible resource for all students as they meet the challenges of these standards. She said Hinson covered cultural groups that major publishers had overlooked, “but they’re definitely important.”
“These stories from Central America, the Caribbean and South America tap into the prior knowledge of our immigrant students, who are learning English as a second language,” said Mike Riley, retired principal of South Grade Elementary in Palm Beach County, Florida. “When students see a familiar image on the page, it promotes engagement and adds meaning to their reading. Books about the United States also start from scratch, as they reinforce basic knowledge of state history “United for our ELLs. Text-dependent questions challenge students to deepen their understanding of the text.”
“A 24-page book is less intimidating for ELL students,” said Angela Gonzalez of the Palm Beach County School District. “These titles are useful for close reading, reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading.”
More than ten percent of public school students in the United States are designated as English language learners. The reading achievement gaps between ELL and non-ELL students in the National Assessment of Academic Progress were 36 points at the 4th grade level and 44 points at the 8th grade level. Hinson’s books implement best practices for increasing ELL reading comprehension to address these learning gaps.
“My goals are to bring ELLs out of the silent phase by tapping into their prior knowledge, to inspire pride in student identity by addressing their cultural disconnects, and to increase academic performance and graduation rates. ELL graduation,” Hinson said.
“Our students are scouring the shelves for Hinson’s books,” said media specialist Sarah McKnight of the Palm Beach County School District. “Our stats show their titles have high stream rates that continue to rise.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded LACC’s proposal in 2018, designating it as a National Resource Center (NRC) and awarding it a Foreign Languages and Areas Scholarship (FLAS) for four years. The two grants allow LACC to continue supporting research, training, and access to scholarships for Latin American and Caribbean languages and understanding. This is the thirty-ninth year that LACC has been named NRC since its founding 43 years ago.
Author Rebecca Hinson is a graduate of Duke University and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She leads literacy workshops through multicultural art. Editor-in-Chief John Robuck graduated in journalism from the University of Georgia. Publisher Richard Lederer is the author of 40 books on language, history and humor. He is the founding co-host of A Way With Words on Public Radio.
Sources of the story:
Associate Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC)
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Florida International University
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Palm Beach County School District
Claudia Battistel Tomada, Ph.D.
Haitian Creole translator
Marjorie Agosín, Spanish, Ph.D., Indiana University
Simone Athayde, MA Ethnobotany, University of Kent
Claudia Battistel Tomada, Ph.D. in Spanish, Florida International University
Roy Bartolomei, MA in History, Harvard University
Guillermo Duberti, Doctor of Legal Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Rosario
Laura Duberti, MA in International Relations, Universidad de Belgrano
Laurent M. Dubois, Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean History, University of Michigan
Gabriela Escobar Rodríguez, Ph.D. in Spanish, Florida International University
Brian D. Farrell, Ph.D. in Zoology and Botany, University of Maryland
Philippe Girard, Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean History, Ohio University
Richard Lederer, Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of New Hampshire
Mary Ellen Miller, Ph.D. in Art History, Yale University
Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya, Ph.D. in Sociology, Binghamton University
Walter Paul, Ph.D. Physics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jacques Pierre, MA Kent State University
Bianca Premo, Ph.D. in History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
John Robuck, BA Journalism, University of Georgia
Inés Quintero, Ph.D. in History, Central University of Venezuela
Michael E. Smith, Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Illinois
Stuart Schwartz, Ph.D. in History, Columbia University
Orin Starn, Ph.D. in Anthropology, Stanford University
Rebecca Stone, Ph.D. in Art History, Yale University
Tomás Straka, Ph.D. in History, Andrés Bello Catholic University
Edward Z. Wronsky, Jr., AIA, Master of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania