Today, Jill Eisenberg, Senior Director of Curriculum & Literacy Strategy at LEE & LOW BOOKS, shares recommended books for students aligned to the Re-imagining Migration Learning Arc framework. This article is part of our Media Highlight Series, which aims to support curriculum about migration through the exploration of storytelling – this includes literature, film and more. We align selections of media with questions in our Learning Arc


All the Stars Denied

By Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Ages: Grades 7 and up

Synopsis: Guadalupe Garcia McCall tackles the hidden history of the United States and its first mass deportation event that swept up hundreds of thousands of Mexican American citizens during the Great Depression.

In the heart of the Great Depression, Rancho Las Moras, like everywhere else in Texas, is gripped by the drought of the Dust Bowl, and resentment is building among white farmers against Mexican Americans. All around town, signs go up proclaiming “No Dogs or Mexicans” and “No Mexicans Allowed.”

When Estrella organizes a protest against the treatment of tejanos in their town of Monteseco, Texas, her whole family becomes a target of “repatriation” efforts to send Mexicans “back to Mexico”—whether they were ever Mexican citizens or not. Dumped across the border and separated from half her family, Estrella must figure out a way to survive and care for her mother and baby brother. How can she reunite with her father and grandparents and convince her country of birth that she deserves to return home?

Excerpt from author Guadalupe García McCall’s interview on the Lee & Low Books The Open Book:

“I never intended to write about politics. In fact, I never even considered writing historical fiction either. It all just happened organically. The calling to write about our historical footprint in these “United States” came from the discovery of hidden histories in America. Events like La Matanza (South Texas, 1915), The Repatriation Act (US, 1930’s), and Project Wetback (US, 1954) have been kept out of our history books and thus remain unrevealed to the public and consequently our students.

The one-sided narratives, the askew, curated facts, are much more than plot holes in our history books; they are erasures because they do not tell our side of the story in the development of our country. That’s what made me want to write books that bring our history of social injustices against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in this country to light. I believe it is my responsibility as a U.S. citizen to write books that elucidate us. These books and the light they shed on hidden histories can inform conversations about our present political climate so that we can start working toward creating a better future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

I hope readers will seek to inform themselves about the past, start conversations in their communities about the present political climate in our country, and answer the call to action by moving to creating a better future. It’s possible. ¡Sí se puede!” For the rest of the interview with Guadalupe García McCall, please visit The Open Book from Lee & Low Books.

Tie to the Re-imagining Migration Learning Arc:

 Use All the Stars Denied in the “Understanding Migration” section of the learning arc: exploration of life before migration, the journey, and the adjustment. Students could map out the physical journey Estrella’s family and community take, idenfity the social and economic motivators for this forced migration, and analyze the toll this experience has on those who are forced to move and those left behind.

Learning activities, adapted from Teacher’s Guide from Lee & Low Books:

  • Encourage students to brainstorm and discuss different ways social activism can take place in their communities. What issues are meaningful to them and their peers? What ways have they witnessed or participated young people getting involved in their communities? What challenges do young people face in getting results or having their voices heard?
  • Using the text for evidence, have students write an essay on one of these topics:
    • Coming of Age: How does Estrella change over the course of the story?
    • Discrimination: Why must Estrella attend a different school, live in another part of town, or be barred from certain establishments? What other types of discrimination does Estrella experience? Why?
    • Great Depression: How does the economic struggle change how the community interacts with each other?
    • Identity: What does it mean to be American?

Educator Resources:

  • Teacher’s Guide from Lee & Low Books
  • Jacqueline Stallworth, curriculum consultant and professional developer, created a guidefeaturing All the Stars Denied for the “Putting Books to Work” panel at the International Literacy Association (ILA) conference. Check out this guide to find out about tips and strategies for how to use All the Stars Denied alongside other great texts in your classroom.

Jill Eisenberg is the Senior Director of Curriculum and Literacy Strategy at LEE & LOW BOOKS, the largest independent children’s book publisher specializing in diversity and multiculturalism. Before joining LEE & LOW, Eisenberg was a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan where she taught English as a foreign language to grades 2–6. She went on to become an ELA teacher for third grade in the Bay Area in California and has been passionate about best practices for supporting English Language Learners and parent engagement ever since. At LEE & LOW BOOKS, she oversees strategic partnerships and provides product and literacy expertise to schools, districts, and literacy organizations. Learn more at The Open Book blog.

Author Guadalupe García McCall

Lee and Low Books Senior Director of Curriculum and Literacy Strategy Jill Eisenberg

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