Finding meaningful historical fiction that students can connect with on a deeper level can be a challenge when you've got struggling or reluctant learners. That's one reason I love using Esperanza Rising as part of my classroom novel units.
This book is perfect for a whole-class novel study. Use it as a read-aloud for a class of struggling readers, or upper elementary and early middle schoolers will enjoy the book as part of a book club or literature circle.
This novel study for Esperanza Rising comes in print and digital formats and is the perfect way to build important reading comprehension skills and vocabulary with this amazing story of overcoming adversity.
If you need a copy of the book, you can get Esperanza Rising in paperback on Amazon. (This link is an
What you'll find on this page:
Summary of Esperanza Rising
Esperanza Rising is a powerful and thought-provoking novel about Esperanza Ortega, a Mexican girl who was born into the poverty of rural Mexico in 1917.
Esperanza's family loses their farm to bandits after her father is killed during the Mexican Revolution. She is forced to flee with her mother and brother to California where they must work as migrant laborers picking fruit for meager wages under grueling conditions.
Overall, Esperanza struggles with issues of self-identity as she navigates adolescence. When the experience turns dark, she finally gains a voice and pushes through personal tragedy to heal her soul.
What reading level is Esperanza Rising?
Esperanza Rising is a Guided Reading Level V and has a Lexile score of 750L. This equates to a DRA level of 40-50, which means it is best suited for 4th-6th grade learners.
As a historical fiction text, it will be important that teachers do some pre-teaching activities to help students understand the historical context of the novel. However, it is definitely worth it! In fact, I've even included this as one of my 20 Best Books for 5th Graders.
This Esperanza Rising book study unit includes…
This 10-day literature unit breaks this book into manageable sections. Therefore, each day's work includes both comprehension activities and vocabulary without extra fluff.
In addition, there are two weeks of daily lesson objectives and paper-saving printables included in this resource.
Here's more about what you'll find inside this Esperanza Rising Novel Study:
- Instructional guide with daily comprehension skill, objective, and key Tier 2 & text-based vocabulary
- Comprehension trifolds (provided in color and black & white)
- Reader's notebook comprehension prompts (matching trifolds)
- Word of the Day text-based vocabulary flipbooks
- Trifold answer keys for easy grading
- Enrichment Mini-Book with engaging projects & activities related to the text
Reading comprehension skills targeted
These novel study
Some of the comprehension skills addressed in this novel study include:
- Generate Predictions
- Compare & Contrast Characters
- Analyze Dialogue
- Make Connections
- Problem & Solution
- Analyze Character Traits
- Cause & Effect
- Perspective Taking
- Generating Summaries
- Evaluating Author's Craft
The daily lessons target one comprehension skill. This was one for two reasons. First, this lets students focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to responding to literature.
Unlike many novel studies, this format makes sure your students understand and can apply their knowledge to Esperanza Rising and other texts they read. There isn't any long list of chapter questions that just require students to regurgitate text here!
The novel study format
Comprehension prompts are provided in three formats, selected to reduce copies while still offering materials for student use.
Here's an overview of each of the comprehension response formats:
Trifold Novel Format
The trifold format was the original design for this novel study.
Esperanza Rising Book Study foldables use only one piece of paper. Each foldable covers one week of comprehension instruction.
Students respond to a targeted question each day that focuses the day's reading on the comprehension skill.
From the student's perspective, the benefit of the trifold is that it is extremely approachable. Each day's work only takes up a third of the page, and this keeps reluctant writers from shutting down.
From the teacher's perspective, it easy to collect and grade. Many students use the trifold as a bookmark, helping prevent missing papers.
Reader's Notebook Format
The Reader's Notebook prompts are perfect for advanced students, who provide a more in-depth analysis, and struggling writers, who may need more space to write their response.
For advanced readers, the notebook prompts can be used to generate a longer, more detailed response to the daily prompt. This pushes the students to analyze and defend their answers.
However, the notebook prompts are also great for students with fine motor or writing issues because they can be glued onto specialized paper or within a notebook to give students with large handwriting more room to respond.
Regardless of the format selected, the prompt is the same so you can easily have some students working on the trifolds while others use the notebook prompts.
Digital Slides Format
This version is made available through Google Slides. The Digital Novel Study Slides are perfect for virtual learners or for use when students have accommodations that allow for typing instead of written responses.
Both the daily vocabulary and comprehension prompt are included on a single slide. This makes it easy for students to keep track of what they need to complete. This prevents overwhelm and allows you to quickly and easily review work daily.
Finally, graphic organizers and links to external resources are built right into the slides when needed to make things easy for learners.
Academic vocabulary in this Esperanza Rising Literature Unit includes…
The instructional guide includes 40+ academic vocabulary terms. These include general academic vocabulary and skill-specific vocabulary.
First and foremost, it is crucial to teach academic vocabulary explicitly and within context. Struggling learners often lack the vocabulary essential to perform well in school. This includes standardized assessments! This is an easy way to incorporate these into your regular instructional practices. Learn more about why academic vocabulary is important.
Here is a small sample of the academic vocabulary you'll find included in this Esperanza Rising Book Study:
Text-based vocabulary in Esperanza Rising
Each lesson includes one text-based vocabulary word for students to study. This word comes from the day's reading. Some of the vocabulary words included in this literature guide are:
In addition to being visually appealing, these vocabulary flipbooks record students' understanding of the new terms. Designed with conserving copies in mind, the flipbooks require only a half-piece of paper per week.
The Word of the Day Flip Book is designed for use in interactive reading journals.
To use the flipbooks, cut around the outer edge, cut the tabs, and glue them into their notebook. Leave the flaps unglued so they can be lifted. This allows students to write under them.
You can have them generate a definition of the day's word. Alternatively, you could generate a list of synonyms and antonyms. You can even have students draw a picture of the meaning.
Esperanza Rising Book Study Mini-Book (Bonus)
Finally, we all know how important it is to have students reflect and work through some post-novel study activities. That's why I've added a special bonus to this novel unit.
Students reflect on the big ideas and key elements of the text in this fun mini-book. Then glue it into a reading journal to refer back to all year.
Alternatively, these activities are great for early finishers to complete after the daily activities. You can use them after you finish the book to wrap up the story and engage students in meaningful discussion.
Optional activities you'll find in this Esperanza Rising Book Study Activity include:
- Character Analysis
- Examining the Elements of Fiction
- Rating & Recommend
- Write a Letter to the Author
- Create a Comic Story Summary
- Character Social Media Profile
- Record and Analyze Figurative Language
- Identify & Analyze Symbolism
- Analyze Text Quotes
- Explore Author's Message
- Create a Spanish-English Dictionary
Therefore, students get more from the story with these engaging Esperanza Book Study activities because they are fun and meaningful. However, they are provided in a way that doesn't overwhelm learners. Unlike other novel studies, they'll never require long written responses or lists of required questions.