A Note to Readers
We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Advent begins Sunday. Hanukkah begins Sunday night. With all the holiday joy, your students will be bursting at the seams to talk about their family traditions, and today’s post will help you!
Today, my debut group buddy Alexandra Katona is here to talk about how to use her new book Dinner on Domingos in your classroom. This story provides a great mentor text to encourage students to think about food, family, and traditions. If you want to know more about Alexandra’s inspiration for the book and her journey toward publication, check out at my blog earlier this fall, “Writing an OwnVoices Story.”
Teaching Dinner on Domingos
Tell us about your book.
First, thank you so much for having me on your blog!
Dinner on Domingos is a love letter to family dinners and the people that keep them alive. In Dinner on Domingos, it’s my abuelita. It weaves a sensory experience of a multigenerational family coming together at Abuelita’s home for Sunday dinner. It showcases the beautiful chaos that happens when everyone gets together to enjoy a meal.
Throughout the story, I touch on themes of family and identity, since the main character doesn’t speak much Spanish but she’s trying, very hard, because she wants to connect with her abuelita.
What do you hope your young readers will take away from your book?
There’s a few things I hope young readers will take away. First, dinners together as a family are super special, especially if they’re with grandparents and cousins.
I hope this book helps readers think about their own gatherings with family and what it means to them. My book just came out a few weeks ago, but I’ve been receiving all kinds of messages from my friends about how this brought up warm memories of their own family get-togethers – and some are even starting the tradition of Sunday dinners with their family and friends!
Additionally, I hope this resonates with kids who are trying to connect with their grandparents who may speak the same language as well, or don’t have a great grasp on their language.
How might a teacher or librarian use your book in the classroom?
That’s a great question! I don’t want to limit my book to just Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month, since I think books with all different representations should be read all year, but it could be highlighted as a book about culture, food, and family during that month.
I mentioned already that it’s sparked some great conversations with my friends and their children. We’ve talked about food that reminds us of home, or a specific gathering, since families tend to make traditional food at certain times of the year. It’s been such a joy hearing about people’s connection to food.
Curriculum hooks can revolve around traditional foods, learning another language, and family traditions around the holidays.
Can you share an exercise or activity that teachers can do with students after they’ve read your book?
They can open a discussion about family gatherings and talk about traditional food that’s enjoyed. This can open up a sensorial experience too.
Ask the students to close their eyes.
Then, ask them to think about a family gathering where food was prepared.
- Where are they?
- Who’s there?
- Who’s cooking?
- What are they cooking?
- What do they smell?
- What do they hear?
They could also ask students how they connect with their grandparents.
- Do you talk to your grandparents often?
- Do they speak the same language as you?
- Do you play games together?
- Do you eat dinners together?
Here are other questions to get the conversation going:
- What food reminds you of home?
- Do you help out in the kitchen? If so, what do you like cooking?
- Does your family make any traditional foods over the holidays?
- What food reminds you of your grandparents or parents?
What books pair well with your book?
In just 2021 there have been so many wonderful books about food and family that I absolutely adore! Here are some that I truly love:
Soul Food Sunday, by Winsome Bingham and C.G. Esperanza
May Your Life Be Deliciosa by Michael Genhart and Loris Lora
Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds
Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly
About the author
Alexandra Katona is a writer and a communications consultant for the specialty coffee industry. Dinner on Domingos is her debut picture book. When she’s not writing, you can find her on an outdoor adventure, swimming in the ocean, or cooking for her family. She lives with her husband, son, and dogs in Southern California, and believes in the connective power of food.