Side By Side
What It Is
The inspiring story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez is told to children in this bi-lingual picture book. As children living in California, Dolores and Cesar saw the struggles of immigrant farm workers. Long hours, low pay, poor working and living conditions, and exposure to pesticides and other poisons made farm workers sick and forced their people to endure a very poor quality of life.
Fate caused Dolores and Cesar to meet and the two shared their dreams of improving lives of thousands of farm workers. Soon, they rallied people of all ages and caused a massive boycott of grapes grown in California that forced farm owners to improve working and living conditions. Among their many achievements, featured in the book are their 340-mile march, Cesar’s 36-day hunger strike, and passage of the Immigration Act of 1986 that helped more than a million immigrants become U.S. citizens.
Why It’s Fun
The story is important to modern U.S. history, and California in particular, and the title “Side By Side” has several meanings that are apparent throughout the book. Monica Brown cleverly laid out each page spread with one side featuring Dolores’ experiences as a child and the corresponding side featuring the same for Cesar. Once the two met and worked “side by side” for la causa, the story follows their common path. Also, each page has both English and Spanish copy, which gives additional resonance to the book’s title.
Who’s Going To Love It
Mid-elementary school seems about the right age for children to fully appreciate this particular book and it would be great to use in the classroom. However, Dolores and Cesar’s achievements may be hard to understand for kids at the younger end of the 4-to-8 range. For most young children, the topics of pesticides, immigration and poor working conditions may go over their heads causing them to get a bit restless. As a good library pick, parents could seize the opportunity to speak to their kids about these important issues in terms their kids will understand. The inspirational story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez is one that all parents and children should know and learn from. Unfortunately, it’s not a warm-and-fuzzy book that kids will likely ask to read again and again.
About 3 minutes
6 out of 10
Side By Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez
(Lado A Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez)
By: Monica Brown, Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Published by: Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (2010)
Approximate retail price: $16.99 (hardcover)
Publisher’s recommended ages: 4 - 8