Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Farmworker Awareness Books

It's Farmworker Awareness Week, a time when we can learn more about the ways we get our food and reflect on the injustices that migrant farmworkers face in the United States.  Of course, we should be thinking about these issues all year long, but this week a good time to start.  The people who help grow and harvest our crops have very difficult jobs, but they are practically invisible to most of us.  That invisibility needs to change.

I went to college in North Carolina, and my parents moved there in 2007, so it's become my second home state.  It also has one of the highest migrant farmworker populations in the US.  On their website, the North Carolina Farmworkers Project / Proyecto de Trabajadores Agrícolas de Carolina del Norte provides lots of information about the inequities that farmworkers endure, such as:

  • Extremely low pay for extremely hard work
  • Lack of wage protection and employment benefits
  • Substandard and overcrowded housing
  • High rates of illness due to pesticide exposure, heat stress, skin disease, and other work-related problems
  • Limited access to health care

So what can we do?  One idea is seeking out a farmworker advocacy group near you and donating or volunteering.  Also, we can help children learn about these issues through literature.

Here are some picture books that address the inequities that migrant workers have faced in the past and still face today:

La Mariposa (Francisco Jiménez & Simón Silva, 2000)

Tomás and the Library Lady (Pat Mora & Raúl Colón, 2000)

Calling the Doves / El Canto de las Palomas (Juan Felipe Herrera & Elly Simmons, 2001)

Gathering the Sun (Alma Flor Ada & Simón Silva, 2001)

César: ¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! (Carmen T. Bernier-Grand & David Díaz, 2004)

More resources from Colorín Colorado

As always, when we read these books with kids, we must remember to look at them with a critical eye and help young readers do so as well.  Reading about and discussing farmworkers' lives is a great first step to joining the struggle for migrant workers' rights.

No comments:

Post a Comment