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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

Last updated Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Date of Publication: 2003
ISBN: 0152014373
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2011

Synopsis: From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-The dramatic story of Chavez's 340-mile march to protest the working conditions of migrant farmworkers in California is the centerpiece of this well-told biography. Readers meet Chavez at his grandparents' home in Arizona where he lived happily amid a large extended family. His childhood was cut short when, due to financial difficulties, the family was forced to move to California to seek employment. After years of laboring in the fields, Chavez became increasingly disturbed by the inhuman living conditions imposed by the growers. The historic 1965 strike against grape growers and the subsequent march for "La Causa" are vividly recounted, and Chavez's victory-the agreement by the growers granting the workers better conditions and higher pay-is palpable. While sufficient background information is provided to support the story and encourage further research, focusing on one event makes the story appealing to younger readers. The text is largely limited to one side of a spread; beautifully rendered earth-toned illustrations flow out from behind the words and onto the facing page. A fine addition to any collection.

Note to readers:
•  Read to yourselves the Author's Notes at the back of the book before-hand for background on Cesar Chavez. You can also read them aloud at the end of the book.
•  To help the kids better understand how far 300 miles is, Los Angeles is about 150 miles north of Mexico, so Cesar and his marchers walked twice that distance for their cause.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever heard of Cesar Chavez? What do you know about him already?
•  What does harvest mean? (Harvest is the time when a crop is ready to be picked, gathered, etc. to be sold and made into food)
•  What do you think the title "harvesting hope" means? Does the word "harvesting" give you any clues about the life of Cesar Chavez?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where is Arizona? (there is probably a US map somewhere in the classroom)
•  Were you scared your first day of school?
•  Have you ever worked outside in a garden (such as picking weeds) or on a farm or on outdoor work? Can you imagine doing outdoor work all day? How much should you get paid?
•  What did "White trade only" mean? (that only people who looked white were allowed to do business in that place)
•  What is "nonviolence"? Why do you think it is an effective way to cause change?
•  What changes did Cesar and the marchers want for farmworkers?
•  Is there any cause you would be willing to walk for 300 miles? Have you ever participated in a walk, rally or meeting for a cause?
•  What is "humility"? Being humble or modest, not bragging

Craft ideas:
•  Make a map of the road he traveled, showing different crops and a group of people getting larger as they march to the state capital, Sacramento.
•  Draw a poster of Cesar Chavez as a hero to farmworkers
•  Draw a picture of your own farm with the crops you want.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!