Suggested Books

  • The book list provided below is a good resource for you when doing research for homework assignments or specific class topics. The books are organized by groups for easy reference. Simply click on the book title link to view additional information.

Books

  • Don Quijote

    by Miguel Cervantes Year Published: Challenging
    Don Quixote fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha
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  • Down These Mean Streets

    by Piri Thomas Year Published: Average
    Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop. As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author's voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.
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  • Finding Miracles

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Easy Reading
    Finding Miracles (New York: Knopf Book for Young Readers, 2004) I have met quite a few young people who were adopted from other countries by American moms and dads. I have watched them grow up and struggle to understand how to fit their "shadow" culture and world into the story of their lives. And so, I decided to write a novel about one such young woman, who was adopted from a Latin American orphanage, where her name was Milagros (Miracles). She has since become a totally American girl, Milly Kaufman, who doesn't know how to connect to her past and, therefore, avoids it. But one day a refugee from her birth country, Pablo, appears in her class. His presence becomes a challenge and a means for Milly to find Milagros and connect with her whole story.
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  • Finding Miracles

    by No Author Text Year Published: Easy Reading
    Finding Miracles (New York: Knopf Book for Young Readers, 2004) I have met quite a few young people who were adopted from other countries by American moms and dads. I have watched them grow up and struggle to understand how to fit their "shadow" culture and world into the story of their lives. And so, I decided to write a novel about one such young woman, who was adopted from a Latin American orphanage, where her name was Milagros (Miracles). She has since become a totally American girl, Milly Kaufman, who doesn't know how to connect to her past and, therefore, avoids it. But one day a refugee from her birth country, Pablo, appears in her class. His presence becomes a challenge and a means for Milly to find Milagros and connect with her whole story. Click to read an excerpt from Finding Miracles. see also: Random House Reading Guide Random House Author Interview Finding Miracles: a Knopf Book for Young Readers by Julia Alvarez see this book on Amazon.com: hardcover * paperback audio cassette audio CD * kindle en español: paperback or you may be able to get an autographed copy at Vermont Book Shop stripe Before We Were Free (New York: Knopf Book for Young Readers, 2002) Fiction about political subjects is a tricky thing, and when the readers are young, even more so. My young protagonist, Anita (in honor of her namesake Anne Frank), is coming of age in a dictatorship in Latin America, not unlike the one we left behind in the Dominican Republic. When her father gets taken away by the secret police, Anita and her mother go into hiding in order to avoid capture. Anita, of course, keeps a diary. see also: Random House Reading Guide Random House Author Interview Before We Were Free: book by Julia Alvarez see this book on Amazon.com: hardcover * paperback * audio cassette * kindle en español: hardcover * paperback or you may be able to get an autographed copy at Middlebury College Bookstore or Vermont Book Shop stripe A Cafecito Story (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishers, 2001) Woodcuts by Belkis Ramirez I've often described this book as a "green fable and love story." The book grew out of a project Bill and I started in the Dominican Republic: an organic coffee farm modeling sustainable methods with a school on site to teach basic reading and writing. There's now a new Spanish/English edition, A Cafecito Story/El cuento del cafecito. One of the special moments of my writing life happened when we took this bilingual edition down to the farm, and our once illiterate neighbors were able to read passages in which their names appeared! See website at cafealtagracia.com. Also, check out some of the woodcuts by Belkis Ramirez.
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  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Average
    How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1991) The four García sisters come to this country as young girls with their immigrant parents. Suddenly, they are swept up in the freewheeling American culture of the 60s (then, the 70s and 80s) with its dizzying choices and challenges. Somehow, they have to try to straddle this life with their Island/Latino culture as represented by Mami and Papi. What is lost, what is gained when a family leaves an old world to come to a new one?
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  • How Tia Lola Learned to Teach

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Easy Reading
    How Tía Lola Learned to Teach (New York: Knopf Book for Young Readers, 2010) Tía Lola is back! Talk about coming to visit and then staying on! Tía Lola is back! How Tía Lola Learned to Teach was published in October 2010. This time Tía Lola works her magic in school. Imagine what happens when a fun-loving, storytelling, magical Tía Lola is asked to be the Spanish teacher at Bridgeport Elementary where Miguel and Juanita go to school. Tía Lola is reluctant at first because she, herself, never went past fourth grade in her native country, the Dominican Republic. But she can turn a boring hour into an adventure the kids will never forget. School was never this much fun! Miguel and Juanita end up sharing their very special aunt with the whole school. By the end of the book, everyone in town and all the students a Bridgeport Elementary consider Tía Lola their very own aunt. How Tía Lola Learned to Teach, a book for young readers by Julia Alvarez see this book on Amazon.com or get an autographed copy at Middlebury College Bookstore or Vermont Book Shop How Tía Lola Learned to Teach was included on the 2013 Back-to-School Reading list from The Horn Book and the 2010 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best List and was selected for the Winter 2011 Kids' Indie Next List by IndieBound.
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  • In the Time of the Butterflies

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Average
    In The Time of the Butterflies (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1994) In 1960, a few months after my family fled the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the three Mirabal sisters were brutally murdered. Founders of the underground, las Mariposas (the Butterflies, their code name) had inspired resistance cells throughout the country. (My father had joined one of these cells, which was cracked by the SIM, the secret police, in the summer of 1960 -- the reason we were forced to flee.) This novel tells the Mirabal story through the lens of fiction. Needless to say, this book is one I felt compelled to write. The day of the murder of the Mirabal sisters, November 25th, has been declared by the United Nations, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I'd love it if we began a tradition of wearing a butterfly on that day! In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
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  • Once Upon a Quinceanera

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Average
    Once Upon A Quinceañera Coming of Age in the USA a nonfiction book by Julia Alvarez (Viking: August 2007) This is only my second book of nonfiction, and the only book that I ever was invited to write! Well, take that back. The seed of A Cafecito Story was a request by my husband that I write "something" about the plight of coffee farmers we had become involved with in the Dominican Republic. But that wasn't an invitation so much as "this is what I want for Christmas, my birthday, and any other time you're going to get me a present for the rest of my life." How easy was that to refuse?! Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez Once Upon A Quinceañera began when an editor asked me to write about a book about this Latino tradition. At first, I sent regrets, but he was persistent! He asked me to think about it. I decided to attend a few of these celebrations and I got hooked on the subject. It seemed to me that quinceañeras, those elaborate and ritualized parties thrown for young Latinas when they turn fifteen, are a perfect lens through which to view what is happening to us as a Latino community in this country. Writing the book also gave me the opportunity to review my own troubled coming of age and to understand why that passage was so difficult for me and many other young Latinas and women of my generation. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. It is now available in paperback as well as in Spanish translation by Liliana Valenzuela, Habia una vez una quinceanera: De niña a mujer en EE.UU.
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  • One Hundred Years of Solitude

    by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Year Published: Challenging
    One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women -- brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul -- this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
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  • Something to Declare

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Average
    Something to Declare (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1998) In my bio, I mentioned that I wrote a book of autobiographical essays about my life and my writing. Some of the pieces were originally published in Allure, Essence, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine. Some began as letters to readers or as talks at conferences and schools. I write about everything in this book: from childlessness to how/why I became an American writer to researching In the Time of the Butterflies to my ten commandments of writing (not written in stone).
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  • When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir

    by Esmeralda Santiago Year Published: Average
    Esmeralda Santiago's story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby's soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.
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  • Yo!

    by Julia Alvarez Year Published: Average
    leftie stripe ¡YO! (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books: 1997) I've been asked if this novel is a sequel to How The García Girls Lost Their Accents. Not at all. The García family and their immigration to the USA were the focus of the first novel. In this novel, the character of Yolanda serves as a sort of catalyst to bring forth stories from friends, family members, strangers who have a score to settle with her. In the course of telling their stories, these characters often reveal more about their own yos ("I" in Spanish) than about Yo. Director Julia Solomonoff's sassy & funny movie based on the chapter titled, "The Suitor," aired on PBS in September 2005. Visit GiganticPictures.com for more on the film.
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