Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez (2003). Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales (illus.). 

Review by: Rae Quintero

This book is a biography of the famous Cesar Chavez who was the leader of a civil rights group for farmworkers called the National Association for Farm Workers in the early 1940s. As a young boy living on a ranch with his family, Cesar has to move because of a drought that was occurring which limited the amount of food being available for workers to farm. Leading Cesar’s family to explore West into California where cropping was booming. Cesar experienced hatred and racism in his classroom which led him to hate school, but he found joy in learning new things. As Cesar begins his life into adulthood, he begins to notice harsh working conditions and the wage decreases for the farming community. He forms a group of members around the time of harvesting grapes which is a big problem for most fruit companies because the grapes will overripe and spoil if not harvested within a certain timeframe. With that knowledge, Cesar decided to march with hundreds of other farmers peacefully from one part of California to the Capital in order to seek assistance from the government. Others who believed in the movement joined the NFWA and this association grew from hundreds to thousands. In the end, Cesar gained ten-thousand marchers as well as recognition from all major media outlets including companies who could not take the negative publicity anymore. Chavez became a voice to discuss better wages and conditions proposals; he accepted and signed the first farmworker contract in American History. 

I believe that this picture book creates a place of imagination for young readers to explore in their adventures to understand their culture and the impact that positive social leaders such as Cesar Chavez can have on a large group of people that are fighting for one cause. This bibliography is one that I can relate to as a person who comes from a LatinX background. My bachelor’s degree in history leads me to connect how Cesar Chavez showed a vast amount of courage to protest non-violently against land-owners for their mistreatment of the immigrants. His activist work can be compared to Martin Luther King Jr., and the SCLC who supported African-Americans in the fight against segregation and racism during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. From a multicultural perspective, this narrative is inspiring and motivating for educators to use as a research tool into lesson plans that unite people under one underlying cause that affects an entire community. I would also like to suggest making multiple cultural connections to other non-violent civil rights movements that have happened in our world history, such as Nelson Mandela’s role in South Africa. Lastly, I enjoyed this picture book because it opened up my eyes to see the negative/positive impact that education can have on students. Cesar’s teacher demeaned his identity but it only filled Cesar with the hope that one day he would unite the people who ‘speak Spanish’ and make history for generations to come. I think this book represents cultural differences by exposing the Spanish vocabulary into the text, such as, “Si Se Puede” and then perhaps having an open conversation about how those Spanish phrases can mean the same in any culture if it is said with meaning to make a positive change in the world. This book advocates for cultural differences because of the exposure to these Latin words, such as “La Causa”, “San Joaquin” that are bolded show a significance in Latin culture and the language they use to celebrate their history

Rae Quintero is a kindergarten teacher and she is pursuing her M.Ed in Literacy Education. I love picturebooks! 

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