I never read Becoming Naomi Leon as a child but I remember reading Pam Munoz Ryan’s other book, Esperanza Rising. I really enjoyed the influence of culture portrayed in Esperanza Rising and was glad to find it in Becoming Naomi Leon as well.
The idea of having a strange last name for example is something I can relate to. Every year on the first day of school I remember just waiting to see if the teacher was able to pronounce my last name correctly. My last name isn’t even very hard to pronounce, yet I watched teachers struggle year after year.
I really enjoyed the Mexican events that were incorporated in the book, also. Carving and Las Posadas for example are parts of Mexican culture that not many people know about. I know I was very excited to read about those things because I actually knew what they were. I think including interesting parts of other cultures will spark children to look into parts of their own culture that they may not know about.
Apart from the culture aspect, I also really like how Naomi’s struggle was something that was easy to fathom and even relate to. Her struggle to find out who she is while also helping keep her family together is not a new concept. I’m sure most children with younger siblings can relate to this idea. There is a certain amount of growing up that has to take place early when one has a younger sibling. The older sibling has to be the responsible one and look out for the younger sibling. In Naomi’s case she had to grow up really quickly because she had an younger sibling and her grandmother was the only one taking care of them. The struggle to find out who she is also adds to her work load.