Author of Multicultural Children’s Books Visits with Pocantico Students, Families

Pocantico students collaborated to re-create Diego Rivera’s “The Flower Vendor” after reading a book about the author for the Global Read Aloud.

Pocantico culminated its activities for the Global Read Aloud with three virtual visits on Nov. 10 from Duncan Tonatiuh, an award-winning Mexican-American children’s book author.

During October, students read four of his books, which are tied to issues of equality and justice with a focus on Hispanic culture: “Dear Primo,” “Diego Rivera: His World and Ours,” “Pancho and the Migrant’s Tale” and “Separate is Never Equal.” Middle school students partnered with younger peers to read the stories together and do Global Read Aloud activities. In art class, students re-created Diego Rivera’s artwork.

Mr. Tonatiuh told students and families that he became very interested in reading and writing as a child in Mexico, and he did a lot of drawing. In college, he started making illustrations in the style of the artwork of the Mixtec people, who are indigenous to southern Mexico. The drawings have become a hallmark of his books.

“For me, picture books have been a way to talk about issues that I think are important and to learn more about things that I care about, that I’m interested in,” Mr. Tonatiuh said.

Pocantico students from different grades re-created a Diego Rivera self-portrait from 1954 as part of the Global Read Aloud at the school.

Students had a lot of questions for the author, such as what do the crows represent in “Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote” (organized crime), when his first book was published (2010) and does he have pets (no, but his father has a grumpy cat).

“I’m very interested in making books that are multicultural because there are not enough of these books,” he said.

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