The Only Road
Book Information: Written by Alexandra Diaz; Published by Simon & Schuster, 2016. 308 p. $16.99 hb. Realistic Fiction.
Awards: 2017 Pura Belpre Author Honor, 2017 ALA Notable Book
Review: In the Only Road Jaime’s cousin Miguel is tragically killed by a local drug gang that terrorizes their area. The family makes a decision to pool their money together to send Jaime and Angela to the United States to live with Jaime’s older brother. The author did a great job of building and maintaining suspense. This novel is current and makes references to current-day issues of immigration. The causes and effects of the sacrifices that immigrants make to live in another country are very real and scary. There are not many novels written on this topic inspired by true events. This novel paired with nonfiction readings about U.S. immigration policies would give young readers more insight on this very important issue. Students will find themselves rooting for Jaime and Angela and hoping they make it safely to Tomas in Texas. Highly recommended.
Grade level: 7 +
Rating: Highly Recommended
Byline: Jaimie Davis, Graduate Student, School Library Science Program, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.
Teaching Ideas/Invitations to the Classroom (5)
#Teaching Idea 1: Mystery Skype Geography Lesson
10.4 d) Analyze the cultural or social function of literature. 10.5 The student will read, interpret, analyze, and evaluate nonfiction texts.
- Activity: Students will mystery skype with another class from a different state in the United States. The librarian will first be responsible to find a class to mystery skype with by registering with the Mystery Skype website. The librarian will find a class to play mystery skype from New Mexico or Texas, because these are mentioned in the novel’s setting. Mystery skype is a fun game that builds students’ cultural awareness, geography skills, and allows them to hone their critical thinking skills. The teacher will show the students the mystery skype video as an anticipatory set, a week or two weeks before the scheduled mystery skype call. Students will be given the date for the call, and the teacher will use the Mystery Skype Office Curriculum from the website to prepare the students for the actual skype. The teacher and librarian will collaborate to give a library lesson so that the students will learn about New Mexico and Texas, as well as their own city and state to prepare them for the mystery skype call. During the scheduled skype phone call, students will use skype and a series of questions to guess each other’s locations. Students will work in small groups or with one partner for the call preparation and during the call. Mystery Skype is suitable for all students of all ages, and allows students to interact with other students from different locations that they may not otherwise interact with. The mystery skype call will take place in the school library computer lab. Students should find this activity interesting because of the element of travel that Jaime and Angela had to endure as they made their trek to the United States.
#Teaching Idea 2: Double Entry Response Journal
10.4 b) Make predictions, draw inferences, and connect prior knowledge to support
reading comprehension. d) Analyze the cultural or social function of literature.
e) Identify universal themes prevalent in the literature of different cultures.
f) Examine a literary selection from several critical perspectives.
g) Explain the influence of historical context on the form, style, and point of view of
a literary text.
- Activity: Good readers make connections to text as they read, so for this assignment students as students read the novel, they will be required to make at least two-three connection/responses to each chapter. In the left column, students will record events, situations or quotes from the novel that they can relate or react to. In the right column, they will record their connections/reactions to make a connection between the text and themselves (text-to self), another text (text-to-text), or the world (text-to-world). Students will also be required to share their reaction to the connection by writing down how it makes them feel and why. The teacher will model for students how to complete the Double Entry response journal by using the first chapter as an example. The teacher will use a document camera so that students can see in real-time the teacher’s event, situation, quote, connection, and the reaction to the text connection.
#Teaching Idea 3: Book or Movie Trailer
- 10.1 The student will participate in, collaborate in, and report on small-group learning activities.
a) Assume responsibility for specific group tasks.
b) Collaborate in the preparation or summary of the group activity.
c) Include all group members in oral presentation.
d) Choose vocabulary, language, and tone appropriate to the topic, audience, and
e) Demonstrate the ability to work effectively with diverse teams to accomplish a
f) Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make
decisions, and solve problems.
g) Access, critically evaluate, and use information accurately to solve problems.
h) Evaluate one’s own role in preparation and delivery of oral reports.
i) Use a variety of strategies to listen actively.
j) Analyze and interpret other’s presentations.
k) Evaluate effectiveness of group process in preparation and delivery of oral
- Activity: Students will make their own book trailer or movie trailer to introduce the novel using a video tool. Students may select from the following video tools: Animoto, Adobe Spark, Powtoon, Sharalike, Stupeflix, or WeVideo. If a student has a preference for use of a different video tool, he or she must receive permission from the teacher. Students will work in groups to create either a book or movie trailer. For the movie trailer, students will be assigned roles to direct, act, and produce the video. The trailer must include audio (voice over and music), and scene changes and transitions. The classroom teacher will collaborate with the librarian to provide students lessons on how to use the web-based video tools to create their video. The Librarian will give students a tutorial of all the video tools and student groups will determine the best tool for their presentation. Students are not permitted to depict any violence or act out a violent scene in the trailer. Students will need to collaborate as a team to produce the final product. The final products will be presented in the school library computer lab.
#Teaching Idea 4: Immigration Myths
- (Teaching Tolerance, 2017) Students will explore and break down myths and stereotypes about immigration. The librarian will have students do a gallery walk. Students will use sticky notes to write their thoughts regarding the ten common myths.
- Myth 1: Most immigrants are here illegally.
- Myth 2: It’s easy to enter the country legally. My ancestors did; why can’t immigrants today?
- Myth 3: Immigrants take good jobs from U.S. citizens.
- Myth 4: “The worst” people from other countries are coming to the United States and bringing crime and violence.
- Myth 5: Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden the national economy.
- Myth 6: Banning immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries will protect our country from terrorists.
- Myth 7: Today’s immigrants don’t want to learn English.
- Myth 8: The United States is being overrun by immigrants like never before.
- Myth 9: We can stop undocumented immigrants coming to the United States by building a wall along the border with Mexico.
- Myth 10: Refugees are not screened before entering the United States.
- The librarian will have ten stations, that is one station for each myth. Students will be organized into ten groups. At each station students will use the resources provided to dispel the myth at that station. The group will chart on a graphic organizer why the myth is not accurate and will use the resources and information from the station as evidence to support their dispositions.
- Each group will present in front of the class.
- Students will take notes of the information and will be charged to share their new knowledge with at least three people.
#Teaching Idea 5: The Paths to Become a Legal Citizen
This lesson has been adapted from TeachingTolerance.org
SOL: GOVT.19 The student will explain the meaning of citizenship in the United States and how it relates to American civic life by a) explaining how citizenship confers full membership in the American constitutional system; b)recognizing that American citizenship is defined by shared political and civic beliefs and values; c)describing how Americans are citizens of their locality, state, and nation; d)recognizing that noncitizens can become citizens.
Each group will then be assigned to read The Blocked Path. After reading students will create a list of information from The Blocked Path that will explain their group’s path to legal residency. Each group will be given four scenarios of immigrants and one common read, titled Sara. Students will underline, highlight, all of the adjectives in each of the readings. Students will explain the path to become a legal citizen that should have or did happen for each of the scenarios. Students will reflect within the group to share their reactions to each of the stories of immigrants. Students will share the outcome they expected compared to what actually happened. Students will write down their thoughts and be encouraged to share their feelings and emotions about what they read.
In 1960, CBS broadcast a documentary called “Harvest of Shame.” Narrated by journalist Edward R. Murrow, the program highlighted the plight of migrant agricultural workers in America. In his closing words, Murrow said:
“The migrants have no lobby. Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants. The people you have seen have the strength to harvest your fruit and vegetables. They do not have the strength to influence legislation.” (Teaching Tolerance, 2016).
The librarian will obtain a copy of the aforementioned documentary and will show the documentary to students. Students will then use online resources to research when the program aired, why it aired on the particular day that it aired, the reason for the report, and viewer reactions. Once students have sufficient information from their research they will have a student-directed class discussion.
Further Explorations (7)
1- Hinojosa, M. (2017). America by the numbers. Retrieved from http://www.americabythenumbers.org/
This website link provides information about an actual show titled “America by the Numbers.” ABTN is a PBS documentary that examines the demographic shifts that have occured within the United States and explores how the shifts are influencing elections, culture, commerce, statistics, and all facets of life.
2- CBS (1960) Harvest of Shame. documentary Retrieved from Youtube. https://youtu.be/yJTVF_dya7E
This link provides access to the 1960 CBS documentary titled “Harvest of Shame.” Narrated by journalist Edward R. Murrow, the documentary highlighted the plight of migrant agricultural workers in America.
3- Nava, G. (1983). El Norte [film]. PBS Film 4 Productions.
This film is about two teenagers, a sister and a brother, who flee their village in Guatemala after a massacre. After receiving help and advice from friends on how to travel through Mexico, they travel by any means necessary to make it to Los Angeles, CA in the United States where they try to make a new life for themselves as young undocumented immigrants.
4- Diaz, A. (2016). The Only Road [ebook]. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. Retrieved from https://www.overdrive.com/media/2583149/the-only-road
This is access to the ebook copy of The Only Road.
5- Germano, R. (2009). The Other Side of Immigration Documentary [film].
This film documents the other side of immigration- the side that most people in the United States are unfamiliar with.
6- Made Into America (2013). Immigrant Archive. Retrieved from http://madeintoamerica.org/
Immigrants that have made it into the United States and have now established citizenship share their stories on this immigrant archive. Their real-life stories and accounts are riveting and would provide students additional factual readings for them to explore on the topic of immigration while also providing a global perspective and helping students develop critical thinking skills.
7- Shiban, B. (2014, November 22) You have to live in fear”: One undocumented immigrant’s story. CBS News.
This news article discusses the plans that President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security said those who entered the country illegally prior to January 1, 2014, and have never been convicted a serious offense or disobeyed a prior order to leave the country, will not be a priority for removal. Instead, security threats, gang members, and convicted felons will be at the top of the government’s list for deportation.
Partner Titles (5)
1- Chacon, A., Davis, J., Davis, M. (2006). No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Chicago, IL Haymarket Books.
This partner title represents differing viewpoints on controversial subjects and contains recent copyright date appropriate to the subject matter.
2- Eichstaedt, P. (2014). The Dangerous Divide: Peril and Promise on the US– Mexico Border. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.
This partner title pertains to the curriculum and the objectives of the instructional program and also represents differing viewpoints on controversial subjects.
3- Henriquez, C. (2014). The Book of Unknown Americans. New York, NY. Thorndike Press.
The Book of Unknown Americans provides a different viewpoint on the reason for immigration. Broadens the scope of the collection.
4- Urrea, L. A. (2005). The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York, NY: Hatchette.
This partner title is appropriate for the age group and would arouse and motivate interest. It would also broaden the scope of the collection.
5- Zoboi, I. (2017) American Street. New York, NY: Balzar & Bray.
American Street is reflective of the pluralistic nature of a global society, and provides a global perspective to help students to develop critical thinking skills.
CBS (1960) Harvest of Shame. documentary Retrieved from Youtube. https://youtu.be/yJTVF_dya7E
Chacon, A., Davis, J., Davis, M. (2006). No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Chicago, IL Haymarket Books.
Diaz, A. (2016). The Only Road. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Diaz, A. (2016). The Only Road [ebook]. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. Retrieved from https://www.overdrive.com/media/2583149/the-only-road
Eichstaedt, P. (2014). The Dangerous Divide: Peril and Promise on the US– Mexico Border. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.
Henriquez, C. (2014). The Book of Unknown Americans. New York, NY. Thorndike Press.
Hinojosa, M. (2017). America by the numbers. Retrieved from http://www.americabythenumbers.org/
Made Into America (2013). Immigrant Archive. Retrieved from http://madeintoamerica.org/
Nava, G. (1983). El Norte [film]. PBS Film 4 Productions.
Scholastic. (2017) Meet Young Immigrants Teacher’s Activity Guide. Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/young_immigrants/
Shiban, B. (2014, November 22) You have to live in fear”: One undocumented immigrant’s story. CBS News.
Teaching Tolerance (2017). Immigration Myths. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/immigration-myths
Teaching Tolerance (2016). Recognizing the Undocumented. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/recognizing-undocumented
Urrea, L. A. (2005). The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York, NY: Hatchette.
Zoboi, I. (2017) American Street. New York, NY: Balzar & Bray.