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Libertad and his little brother Julio watch as their mother is swallowed by the Guatemala City Dump on which they had depended for their livelihood. Libertad understands that he cannot earn enough to live and pay for his  brother's schooling. With no other place to turn, Libertad leads them toward America and their father. Along the way the penniless boys meet kind-hearted and ruthless thieves and children lost to destitution and addiction. After many months the boys finally make their way across the Rio Grand and into their father's arms.

Fullerton's story is told in readable prose and an educator's guide is available online.

General Assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Use Libertad as a catalyst to teach about social justice:

  • Project the first page of writing.  Mine students for connections, inferences and predictions to create interest in the story. Project the novel's cover. Use personal sketching, writing and partner talk to build suspense.
  • Assign individual students text to read. Provide sticky notes so that they can tag the 'hotspots' as they arise.
  • After reading, discuss and connect 'hotspots' to social justice issues.  Review the UN Rights of the Child. Make sure students understand what the definition of a social justice issue is and make sure they understand the responsibility that comes with having rights.
  • Compare and contrast identified issues with what they 'experience' in Canada. Check in on their beliefs and values.
  • Understanding: Create story maps for this linear journey that signpost the issues as they arise.
  • Extending: Assign students the exploration of news articles on migrant workers in Canada and especially in their own community.
  • Extending: Create a visual presentation of what is being done, if anything, to help families living in poverty in Guatemala.
  • Extending:Create a presentation on Guatemala to educate others about the country.
  • Action: Find out how they can make a difference in another child's life and then carry out the action and document it.

Libertad is an appropriate selection for reluctant male readers:

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

Human Health & Environment (1)

  • Quality of Life

Human Rights (4)

  • Education
  • Poverty
  • Refugees and Immigration
  • Social Justice

Waste Management (1)

  • Solid Waste Disposal