Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios

The cover of the book Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios is featured in this image. A blue sky and a sandy hill fill the background. Garland drapes above the cover of the book.

Have you heard about La Posada Sin Fronteras? I just learned about this significant gathering by reading Between Us and Abueala: A Family Story from the Border.

La Posada Sin Fronteras takes place at the border of the United States and Mexico. Every December, family and friends gather on both sides of the fences that divide the countries. They touch hands and sing songs to celebrate Las Posadas; a holiday that commemorates the journey before the birth of Jesus.

Between Us and Abuela opens with a family making gifts for their grandmother who lives in Mexico. They are planning to meet her at the border of San Diego and Tijuana for Las Posadas. The little girl is both happy and worried about the gathering. She knows a fence will divide their reunion. Will she find her grandmother? Will the gifts fit through the fence?

This important book will inspire great questions and discussions about borders. The author and illustrator did an outstanding job of bringing this topic to young readers. The storyline is engaging and approachable. The theme of holiday celebrations and family gatherings is one that all readers will connect with. Organic questions will arise when readers see that this event is quite different from other celebrations.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think I.A.1 Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.

Write “Questions I Have About La Posada Sin Fronteras” on chart paper. Pass out sticky notes and pencils.

Invite learners to write questions they have about the story on their sticky notes. They will place their questions on the chart paper at the end of the story.

Ask the following questions as you read Between Us and Abuela:

Page 1: Look closely at the illustration. What does the image tell you about the setting of the story? Read the text. What more did you learn? What questions do you have?

Page 2-3: Where is the family going? How do you know? What questions do you have about their journey?

Page 4-5: How is the mother feeling as she walks towards the fence? How do you know? What do you notice about the fences? What questions do you have? What does the author want us to know about this visit? What makes you say that?

Page 6-7: What does the author want us to know about the gifts? Why is this important to understand?

Page 8-9: Read the text and notice the illustration. What information can you gather about the families and their reunion? What questions you have?

Page 10-11: Why is there concern about Juan’s gift?

Pages 12-13: Here the author mentions that the fences seem invisible. What does she mean by that? What questions do you have about Las Posadas?

Pages 14-15: How is the family feeling? What makes you say that? What are you wondering?

Pages 18-19: How is Mama feeling on this page? What makes you think so?

Pages 20-23: What questions do you have about how the officers react to the girl’s plan?

La Posada Sin Fronteras took place on December 14, 2019. Check social media postings to share with learners.

If you like this lesson idea, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

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