Esperanza Rising Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a work of historical fiction that presents the story of migrant workers during the Great Depression. This lesson plan is designed to support the book with two text lessons addressing summary, characters, and themes. An activity gives students a chance to show what they know about the book.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize the plot of Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • list and describe key characters in Esperanza Rising
  • analyze the primary themes in Esperanza Rising


  • 1.5 to 2 hours


  • This lesson plan is designed for students who have read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.



  • Divide students into groups of three.
  • Explain to the groups that they will be responsible for creating a 60 second live commercial for the book Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. They must include a summary of the book, a list of main characters with a brief description of each, and a list of key themes presented in the book. They may include drawings or any other readily available props to help present the commercial. If they would like to make one person responsible for each aspect of the commercial, they may, or they can all work together on the three required content areas. Give them 30 minutes to plan their commercials.
  • When all groups have finished planning their commercials for the book, have them take turns presenting their commercials to the class.
    • Which group's commercial was the best and why?

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