Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an interesting children’s book for critical literacy discussions. Here is a list of several themes that appear in the book.
1. Language barrier – Tía Isa speaks limited English and needs her niece to act as her interpreter in some situations. The author is savvy in the use of some Spanish words (code-switching/trans-languaging) to add meaning to the language used in the dialogues.
2. Family – Tía Isa and her brother are the guardians of their niece. They send money to the family living abroad. The young girl’s parents had to go back to their homeland to take care of one of the grandparents who is ill.
3. Financial hardship – Tía Isa does not have enough money to purchase a car despite her job and saving efforts. Her niece ends up doing chores around town to help Tía Isa with her dream.
4. Gender roles – Tía Isa lives with her brother, who is portrayed as a typical sexist latino and who says Isa’s dream is foolish.
5. Immigration – We do not know which circumstances brought Tía Isa’s family to the United States, but we do know that they came from another country, and they have faced some hardship here.
6. The American dream – The entire story revolves around Tía Isa’s dream. Expanding it a little, it can take the discussion into what brings so many immigrants to the U.S.
7. Cultural identity – the characters are strongly connected to their cultural heritage
This piece of children’s literature is recommended for 1st and 2nd grades and its Lexile level is AD630L. The language is simple, and Hispanic ELLs may relate to the fictional characters. This is an interesting book to have in the classroom for a read aloud.
View all my reviews