Weekend Pick for August 5, 2022
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs
My favorite genre for summer reading is historical fiction. It’s hard to talk up historical fiction to my eighth graders when it doesn’t reflect their history. I have been working to diversify the history represented in the historical fiction section of my classroom library, and Alda P. Dobbs’s book, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is one of my favorites.
Inspired by stories from her great-grandmother, Dobbs tells the story of twelve-year old Petra Luna in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution. Petra Luna’s mamá died during the birth of her baby brother Luisito leaving her and her sister Amelia with their papá and abuelita. Papá is carried off by soldiers and forced to fight with Los Federales against the Revolucionarios with no promise that he will ever return to them. Petra Luna, Amelia, Luisito, and Abuelita flee to the north battling the harsh deserts of Mexico dreaming of the day the will be reunited with Papá.
Petra Luna never lets go of her dreams--especially her dream to learn to read and go to school. Abuelita calls these “barefoot dreams” because “They’re like us barefoot peasants and indios--they’re not meant to go far.” Petra doesn’t listen though and will stop at nothing to keep her familia safe and lead them to a better life in the USA where she can finally realize her barefoot dreams.
My favorite thing about this book is that Dobbs doesn’t paint Petra Luna and her family as victims, but also as survivors and fighters. It’s such a positive, affirming history of Mexican resistance and resilience that is needed not just for my Latinx students, but for all my students to witness.