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Libro lunes - Las Lágrimas de Xóchitl

This week's libro lunes is the new novel by Virginia Hildebrandt, Las Lágrimas de Xóchitl. This summer at CI: Comprehensible Iowa, I was introduced to a new to me author of novelas, Virginia Hildebrandt. She is based out of Minnesota and you can find her books and resources at 1 Good Story and Bryce Hedstrom. I snatched up both of her readers to add to my classroom library, and maybe someday teach as a class novel.


The first book I dove into was Las Lágrimas de Xóchitl. Here is the summary from 1 Good Story.

"This book is written for level 1 or level 2 students, novice-low or novice–mid readers. The vocabulary is intentionally flooded with high frequency structures and cognates to easily invite language learners into the story. Family relationships, household responsibilities and sibling interaction are a cornerstone of the first few chapters.

Indigenous culture and traditional rural lifestyle is embedded in the novel underscoring the importance of historical ethnicity and the challenge that communities face as they struggle to maintain values and ancient practices. Readers share Xochitl’s view of her reality as she yearns for a more contemporary lifestyle. Her struggle is one that many modern young people face as they try to stay true to their ethnic heritage and history while balancing influences of the progressive world around them. 
The story follows Xóchitl through joy, heart pounding danger and disappointment."

It is important to note that the book is the first in a planned series of two, with the sequel not yet released. It ends on a cliffhanger, that might upset some students since there is not a second book yet. There is a lot going on, which you can tell will hopefully lead into different resolutions in the sequel.

As a Spanish teacher I could not help by think of ways that I would teach the novel, and themes I would address, as I read. Here are some of the big ideas and cultural concepts that could be taught using this novel:
  • Mayan culture
    • Mayan clothing
    • Mayan food
    • Indigenous culture
    • Family structure
    • El Chupacabras & other legends
  • Guatemala
    • Schools
    • Geography
    • Poverty
    • Animals
    • Markets
    • Bottle Schools (& the environment)

It could easily be taught with Esperanza by Carol Gaab, which also takes place in Guatemala. But this novel takes the culture of Guatemala more in-depth, as the entire novel is set in the country. Below are some resources that I would use if teaching this novel as a unit of study.


  • Living on One - A great documentary that shows the geography, poverty and indigenous people of Guatemala.


  • Class Market - This simulation would actually make sense as a part of this novel study.


What new novelas for Spanish class would you add to my must read list?

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