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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Email: josejosue24@gmail.com
Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.
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Latino/a Literature Closes The Gap


by Manuel Hernández

Latino/a Literature closes the gap on teens in the United States. Voices of concerns are depicted in an Editorial published on Monday, November 24, 2003 in Puerto Ricos English speaking Pulitzer Prize Newspaper, The San Juan Star. The Editorial expressed concerns about a reality that we all know by now; our children are reading less today and as a result, scoring below average on standardized exams. This past Saturday (November 30, 2003) Fox television also dedicated a segment on its series on Education to vividly document stories of children with problems with standardized testing. America is looking for answers and embarking on a journey of redefining its solutions. An alternative to the teaching of literature may be the teaching of Latino/a literature.

Recent studies indicate that there is a strong relationship between reading and writing. Two scholars in the area (Noyce and Christie, 1989) state that the mind assimilates information to explain the missing link between skills and reading/writing.

Therefore it is up to teachers to include additional instruction to help students fill in those missing links. Closing the gap on standardized testing means going beyond the classics and traditional literature.

According to the 2000 United States Census statistics, there are 35.8 million people of Latino origin living in the United States mainland. The ones that migrated to the United States before, during and immediately after World War II, and those who were born and grew up in the United States have come out of the melting pot and have become a vital force developing a voice in American letters today.

Today, Latino/a authors have developed a literary voice of their own and are being anthologized like never before. The study of literature is the only situation in which students have to explore issues that are relevant to their interests. Latino/a literature combines the language, history and the cultural expression of the Latino/a experience that allows students to examine these themes and make language their own by making personal connections with their lives and background information. Themes include education, identity, varied approaches to race, self-esteem, peer-pressure, family, domestic violence, mother-son-daughter; father-son-daughter relationships, just to mention a few. Effectively used and implemented, Latino/a literature may improve educational outcomes and provide the preparation needed for students to enter and succeed in college.

Like the previously mentioned Editorial states, Disappointing test results have many causes, but one of them are the choices that administrators and teachers make for their children. Additional research in the study of young adult literature demonstrates that language is learned through use rather than through practice exercises. Second, children need to be given opportunities to make language their own by making connections with their lives and background information. Finally, A well-designed reading and writing program should provide opportunites for diverse daily reading and various types of writing. The classics will always be part of our curriculum, but Latino/a literature provides children with a refreshening alternative and helps create interest in reading and writing which will in return augment scores in the nations report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress.