Thursday, September 27, 2007

Latino Genius: Reuben Martinez

Photographs and biography were found at the following link:

Lesson plans created by
Claudia Treviño García M.A., M.Ed & Doctoral Student
Ph. D. Program in Culture, Language and Literacy
Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies
University of Texas at San Antonio

Background Information

Rueben Martínez was born in Miami, Arizona, a small mining town in 1940. Both of his parents were miners laboring on different shifts and young Rueben taught himself to read. A professional barber and entrepreneur for more than forty years, Martínez was disturbed by reports that Americans spent little money or time on reading. In 1993, he founded Libreria Martínez Books and Art Gallery, a small business operating out of his barbershop. By 1999, the bookstore had expanded and moved into its own location, and, in 2001, he launched a second venue dedicated to children’s literature. Líbrería Martínez Books is now among the largest commercial sellers of Spanish-language books in the country, serving as the cornerstone of cultural events and community activities that promote the benefits of reading to Hispanic-Americans and Spanish-speaking immigrants. Rueben Martínez is also the co-founder of the Latino Book Festival. The Festival, which now travels to several American cities each year, motivates Spanish-speaking people to value literature, to read for themselves, and to read to their children. In 2004 Martínez was award the prestigious MacArthur fellowship, the first ever given to a bookseller. The MacArthur Foundation stated that Martínez "elevated bookselling from a business to a campaign in support of underserved populations. Martínez’ unique brand of entrepreneurship and advocacy is an important complement to institutional and program efforts to enrich and anchor the lives of a large and growing population in America."

Lesson Plan Title

¡Cuentamé un cuento!...Tell me a story!

Learning Level

Grade level 9-12

TEKS Standards

§113.31. Implementation of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, High School

(24) Social studies skills The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of sources including electronic technology. The student is expected to:

(A) Locate and use primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information

§110.42. English I(4)Writing/inquiry/research.

The student uses writing as a tool for learning.C) Compile information from primary and secondary sources in systematic ways using available technology

Pre-Instruction or Prerequisite Knowledge/Skills

Basic Internet search capabilities,basic writing and library skills

Lesson Duration

3-4 sessions, 1-2 hours each

Students may choose to do research outside of the classroom as well

Learning Location

Computer Lab, online, in the classroom, at home or in community library, community elemenatry school


variety of children's books, construction paper, markers, stapler, pencils (optional: camera, voice recorder)

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to

1. Read about and analyze the life of MacArthur Genius Reuben Martinez in order to write his biography.

2. Explore and examine a variety of latino children's books and choose one to read aloud to an elemenatry "compadre" or "comadre".

3. Create a book with their elementary "compadre" or "comadre" to publish and display at their respective schools and possibly at their community public library.


Task 1:

High school students will read Reuben Martinez's biography and then use the 5 Ws graphic organizer to write down what they have learned about this genius. The following link will provide you with an exmaple of this graphic organizer.

They will use the link below to learn more about Reuben and to complete this activity.

Task 2:

Once students have completed their biography, they will visit the closest community public library to check out at least 2 children's books. If they do not have a library card, they can ask the teacher to check a book out for them or apply to get a card for themselves.

Below is the link to help students locate the libray closest to their home/community.

Below are links that will provide you with a list of suggested award winning children's books or studnets may pick one of their favorites.

Task 3

After choosing a book, the students will practice reading it with a partner to assure that book chosen is read with expression and fluency to encourage the elemenatry students to become engaged in listening and reading.

Below are some links to help guide you in a read aloud.

High school students can also choose to record themselves reading the book out loud in order to give the recording to the elementary "compadres"/"comadres" as a token of remembrance. (If students, school faculty/staff or the community can donate a copy of the book read to the child it can also be given).

Task 4

Student will read the book of their choice to elementary "compadre" or comadre".

Then, they will write a book together about their experience with this book. Students can use the 5Ws graphic organizer in task one (above) to help organize their book content.

Task 5

The students will publish their books and dispaly them at their respective school libraries. One week it can be showcased in the elemenatry school and another week at the high school.

Extension Activity:

Students can take pictures of the experience along the way in order to create a memory board and display with the biography they wrote about Reuben Martinez and the book published with their elementary compadres/comadres. To share project with the community they may want to contact either the main library or the community library to display their projects.


The teacher may use the rubrics to assess students or other forms as she/he deems appropriate. The following link can help you design your own.

About the Author

Claudia Treviño García is a first generation Mexicana/Chicana. She has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Bilingual/ESL Education Certification and an M.A. In Bicultural-Bilingual Education, both from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She taught 13 years in the San Antonio Independent School District, 10 of which were at Storm Elementary, a Dual Language Campus. She is currently in her second year of her doctoral studies at the UTSA. Her research interests include, teacher retention, pre-service teacher preparation, induction year support and teacher ethnic identity. She is currently the Assistant Director for the Academy for Teacher Excellence. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Gus and their three children Gustavo (18), Carolina (17) and Jonathan (12).

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