Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Fuller, Emma. "Esperanza Rising and Identity: Exploring Literature and Self in Upper Elementary School." Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


Copyright Emma Fuller 2021.


Upper elementary students benefit from exposure to windows and mirrors in literature. The term “mirrors” refers to when students can relate to characters and situations, and see their own lives valued in an academic context. Mirrors are important for representation in schools because it allows students to reflect on their own learning. “Windows” allow students to see a perspective into other people’s lives. They are important because they encourage reflection on different ideas and empathy among students. One of many literary works with strong “windows” and “mirrors” is Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising. In this Senior Project, I focused on applied knowledge in creating a resource centered on personal identity for instructors of fourth- and fifth- grade students to teach Esperanza Rising. Using activities that stem from reading, in this unit, students will deepen comprehension of the text, practice several forms of writing, and make connections to their own life. As part of the project, Teaching Slides and Lesson Commentary were created that connect to Common Core State Standards for 4th and 5th grade. Overall, this project provides a formula for building literature instruction with attention to varying perspectives.