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A Gift From Abuela: Book Review & Activities

Enjoy a story that will warm your heart, a treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth, and a craft that will introduce you to Mexican culture.

A Gift From Abuela, a children’s book written and illustrated by Cecilia Ruiz, is a personal story reminding us that it is our dearest relationships that will get us through the most difficult times.

A Gift From Abuela

Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes; however, all opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

A #ReadYourWorld Book:  A Gift From Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz

The story is set in beautiful Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. Take the opportunity to locate it on a map or globe and practice some basic geography skills (identify neighboring bodies of water, countries, cities, etc.). Explore Magnificent Mexico City slideshow.

The book is written in English, but there are several opportunities to practice Spanish vocabulary. As you read, ask students to use picture and/or word clues for predicting the meaning of Spanish words. Create a vocabulary chart as you read, recording both the English and Spanish word, as well as a small icon for a visual reminder.

abuela  grandmother

niña girl

papel picado cut paper

miscelánea corner shop

carnicería butcher shop

pan dulce sweet bread

pesos money, in Mexico

escuela school

The story shares the strong love between a girl named Niña and her grandmother (abuela). Abuela wants to surprise her young granddaughter with a special gift. She saves her twenty pesos every week in a jar and dreams of doing something nice for Niña one day, like buying her a bicycle or taking her to the ocean for the first time.

As time passes and Abuela gets older, hard times hit Mexico. Prices rise, shops get boarded up, and the government changes the country’s currency. The pesos she had been saving are suddenly worthless. Abuela has to work harder, and she and Niña don’t get to see each other as much.

One day Niña decides to surprise her abuela by “doing something nice” for her: cleaning her house. She discovers the hidden jar of old pesos her grandmother had forgotten about – and no longer had any value. Niña’s idea to make them into something beautiful, papel picado, brings them together once again.

A #ReadYourWorld Snack: Pan Dulce

Pan dulce (sweet bread) is the name for a variety of Mexican pastries. In the story, pan dulce is something Niña and her abuela enjoy together.

Learn how to make pan dulce with this recipe.

pan dulce

Credit: EvelynGiggles, Flickr, Attribution 4.0 International (CC by 4.0)

A #ReadYourWorld Craft: Papel Picado

Papel picado, Spanish for “cut paper,” is a traditional folk art from Mexico that involves cutting patterns on colorful tissue paper. They are strung together to form banners and are used as decorations throughout the year. In the story, Abuela and Niña make papel picado from the worthless pesos.

A Gift From Abuela

Make your own papel picado banner!

Mami Talks offers free printable templates and step-by-step directions. Or watch this video, and create your own designs!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

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Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

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MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.


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