You’re probably familiar with the Rain Forest Alliance. In addition to the Spanish-language version of their web site and excellent curriculum materials in English, you can download seven libros de cuentos virtuales about children living in rain forests in Central and South America. Many of the books include photographs and are told in the first person using fairly basic Spanish. There are two books about the national park El Imposible in El Salvador. Alex Explora El Imposible focuses on the unique flora and fauna of the park, while in La Vida en San Miguelito a young boy describes life on his family’s finca where they raise much of the food they eat as well as shade-grown coffee. El Hogar Andino de Chayo is told by a young girl from Colombia who also lives on a farm that produces shade-grown coffee. El Hogar de Romel en el Bosque Tropical, set in Ecuador, is narrated by a boy belonging to the Chachi indigenous group. In the story he explains that he, his family and friends speak Spanish as a second language and he teaches the reader some phrases in his native Chapalachi. The other stories include Mi Papá el Guardaparques, set in Belize, and two pictures books: Clara y el Armadillo and Manny el Manatí y el Misterio del Agua Turbia.
These stories can be integrated into units on childhood, daily routines, agriculture, food, animals or the environment. Venn diagrams, web charts (revealing the relationships among plants, animals, people), letter writing and journaling can help students deepen their understanding of the stories. You can also explore food origins and fair trade (coffee).