Is this book appropriate for a 5th grade female reader who is growing up Latina in Boston?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that with any work of literature, it is important to ensure that proper instruction, formal or informal, accompanies it to guarantee comprehension of concepts.  The information given about the student is a bit too vague, so the only one that will be able to make this call is someone with a great deal of insight.  There are some items to take into account.  On one hand, the book deals with Esperanza's coming of age and much that goes along with it.  There are open discussions of sexuality and victimization as a result.  There is a frank openness about how individuals might not fit into the social order and what it means to be different from others.  As with many books about girls' coming of age, it is something that addresses how self- perception can be an awkward process and this might be something where difficulty will arise in terms of questions being raised.  I think that there is a level of accompaniment that will be needed with a work of this magnitude.  Fifth grade might be a challenging time to start addressing the issues raised in the book, something that presumes adolescence has already been well started.  Ethnicity is not the defining element in reading this book.  I think that gender plays more of an essential role. This is not saying that it should not be read, but the mature level of discussion that is evident in the work has to be broached with a sense of guidance and caution in making sure that adult accompaniment is present with the child reading it.  If this is not there, I would not think that the book is something that can be easily read by a fifth grader and grasped.

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