Living on the Border

We hear a lot about the crisis at the border between the United States and Mexico. In My Two Border Towns, written by David Bowles and illustrated by Erika Meza, the struggle of immigrants on the border is addressed, but we also view this location from the perspective of a Mexican American child for whom the border is simply home. For him, going back and forth between Mexico and the United States is a typical experience, allowing him to stay in touch with his entire identity while also supporting those in his community who cannot travel freely.

While the picture book is written primarily in English, there are a few Spanish phrases throughout the text. This demonstrates the many benefits that come from being bilingual. On el otro lado (the other side), the little boy describes the language use like this, “This town’s a twin of the one where I live, with Spanish spoken everywhere just the same, but English mostly missing till it pops up like grains of sugar on a chili pepper.” This vivid explanation is just one example of the exquisite writing in this picture book.

The illustrations are also extraordinary and add so much vibrancy to the text. As the little boy is leaving his home in the United States early in the morning, the colors of the shops in the community and the landscape along the Rio Grande are more muted and pastel in color. Once he and his dad cross into Mexico, the colors are bright and bold. Both sides are equally beautiful.

My Two Border Towns is a celebration of kindness, joy, and humanity.

Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:

Identity 3: I know that all my group identities are part of me–but that I am always ALL me.

Diversity 6: I like being around people who are like me and different from me, and I can be friendly to everyone.

Justice 14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others and the reasons for that are not always fair.

Action 17: I can and will do something when I see unfairness–this includes telling an adult.

Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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