Argentina for Kids with Books, Crafts and Culture
We travel this week to Argentina. Why? Well, our Spanish tutor is from Argentina and my middle daughter made a new and lovely friend whose family also hails from Argentina. When I think of Argentina, the first thing I think of is beef but there is more to Argentina than just cattle. I wanted to explore the gauchos (Argentinean cowboys) and indigenous people so that is what I dug around for. I hope you enjoy this armchair family trip to Argentina. Bienvenidos! Welcome!
The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend From Argentina by Nancy Van Laan and Beatriz Vidal
This is a lovely fable about the Carob tree and how a small boy from the Quechua people of Argentina brought rain back to the Pampas. [folk tale picture book, ages 4-8]
Gauchada by C. Drew Lamm (Author), Fabin Negrin (Illustrator)
Grade 2-5-Lamm’s gentle story follows the path of a gauchada, or selfless gift-in this case, a handmade necklace in the shape of a moon. A gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, carves it from a piece of bone and hangs it from a silver chain. He gives it to an old woman, who gives it to a younger woman, who gives it to a little girl, and so on. The gauchada makes its way around the world, and finally, the story ends when its most recent recipient recalls the cowboy back in Argentina who carved it. Negrin skillfully manipulates proportion and scale to good effect; his animals and people are all endowed with abundant limbs and torsos offset by delicate facial features. Text and illustrations work together nicely in this quiet story about sharing special presents. However, it’s all a bit arcane, and it’s unlikely that most children will grasp the difference between a selfless gift and any gift. A special book without much child appeal. Blurb from School Library Journal.
- Beef: Argentina has tradition of cattle ranches and cowboys (gauchos) much older than the United States. Raising about 55 million head of cattle, Argentina is the third largest exporter of beef in the world. Argentine beef is world-famous for its quality and flavor. Argentines have the largest consumption of red meat in the world.
- Asado: Argentina has its own, world-famous type of barbeque, known as asado. Asado combines the dry heat of grilling with the humid, slow-cooking method of smoking. The result is grilled, barbequed meat that is very tender and juicy. Many foods Americans consider to be Mexican actually originated in Argentina, including chorizo, empanadas, and Dulce de Leche. Finnally, chimichurri sauce (made of olive oil mixed with parsley, oregano, paprika, garlic, onion, pepper, and salt) is actually an Argentine creation, and is traditionally served with an asado barbeque.
- Wine: Argentinean wine has become increasingly popular worldwide over the last twenty years. Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, and has long been the single biggest producer outside of Europe. The province of Mendoza, Argentina’s primary wine producing region, is considered one of the eight wine capitals in the world. Argentina is credited with the finest Malbec wine in the world.
- The Tango: Almost everyone has heard of this slow, sensual ballroom dance, but many don’t realize it originated in Argentina. Specifically, it evolved in the ports, bars and brothels of Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) in the late 19th century. Buenos Aires was a city of immigrants at the time, and the Tango, both the dance and the music, was a fusion of musical styles from Spain, Cube, Africa, Italy, Eastern Europe, and indigenous Argentinean folk music.
- Evita: For the average person, the first thing they associate with Argentia is the stage and movie musical “Evita,” a rags-to-riches story about Eva Perón. Eva, nicknamed “Evita” by an adoring public, was the wife of the popular Argentinean President Juan Perón, who ruled Argentina in the 1940s and 50s. Evita’s massive popularity among Argentineans came from the charity foundation she set up to assist the poor and working classes. She also advocated women’s right. The story of Evita hit new levels of popularity in the 1990s, when a movie version of the musical was released starring Madonna in the lead role of Eva Perón.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.