Thursday, November 13, 2008

Red Hot Salsa Journal

Again poetry surprises me in a very pleasant way! I absolutely loved Red Hot Salsa. I went through a mixture of emotions when reading this book. Every poem tells a different story about being Latino.

I enjoyed the code switching between Spanish ad English. This, as Carlson writes in the editor’s note, shows the language’s “hybrid linguistic beauty.” For many English language learners it is tough to speak their native tongue in schools because they are taught to speak English instead. This book helps to show ELLs (and other Spanish speaking students) that their first language is just as important. It is important to not only their background, but also who they are. It is a wonderful book for Latino students. Poems are included that not only talk about “being young and Latino,” but there are also poems that talk about being who you are, identity, stereotypes, living in the barrio, violence, Chicanos, and more. These are topics that have surrounded the Latino community for years.

This is also a wonderful book for English speaking students. It exposes them to another language and the experiences of Latinos. Many students get so caught up in their own lives that they don’t take the time to stop and realize what is going on with the other people around them. This book helps students see the same world they live in through another point of view. In the same way that this book is important for Latino young adults it is also important for young adults of other ethnicities and backgrounds. The history of Mexican-Americans is not something that is taught in schools on a regular basis, and this book opens the door for that to happen. While you can just take the poems at face value, the deeper you look at them the more you will learn about the Latino culture.

In addition, the poetry in this book is so beautiful and well written; it is a great book to use to teach poetry lessons. I enjoy that the poems are all by different authors–not only do you get many different perspectives you also get to see and show students many different types of poetry. You can show them that there is not merely one way to write poetry.