My name is Sultana,
o Susana.

 I am Sephardic.

 I live in San Francisco.

 I am Latina.


Questions to Initiate and Guide the Creative Reading Dialogueladino

Descriptive Phase

 Sultana’s grandmother had many dreams for her. What are some of those dreams?
 What is Sultana’s own dream?

Personal Interpretive Phase

 Do you know any of your grandparents? Do you get to see them? Do any of them live close to you?
 What are some of the things you enjoy doing with your grandparents?
 Are there any family stories you like to hear repeated?
 The protagonist was called Sultana by her family, Susana at school. Are you called differently at home and at school? Explain how they call you in both places and how does that make you feel.

Critical/Multicultural/Anti-Bias Phase

 Throughout history women have had to struggle to have the same rights as men, do you think the grandmother had the same opportunities that Sultana has? How do you know? Do you think it is important for the grandmother that Sultana understands that?

Creative/ Transformative Phase

 Jewish people have suffered discrimination for many centuries. Unfortunately, prejudice and discrimination have been present throughout history and have been used to oppress many people. What can we do to combat racism, bias, discrimination?


Activities Students Can Do Individually or in Groups

 Encourage students to interview one of their grandparents, or another person, a family member, a neighbor, belonging to the same generation as their grandparents. Help them create the questions for the interview:
 How was life different when you were my age? Students may want to add specific questions about school, games, chores, friends, etc.
Were you able to follow your dreams? Why or why not?
 What is the best advice you would like to give me and my classmates?

 Have the students research the lives and achievements of some famous Sephardic individuals born in Spain:

Maimonides (c. 1135-1204), Jewish philosopher and polymath

Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, also spelled Yosef Caro, or Qaro (1488 – March 24, 1575),  born in Toledo, had to leave Spain with his family and went to live in the Ottoman Empire. There he codified Jewish law. His work is still in use.

Other famous Sephardics. While their ancestors were from Spain, Maimonides, they had lo live and make their contributions outside of Spain.

Amadeo Modigliani Paintings

1. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch rationalist philosopher
2. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British Prime Minister
3. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Italian painter and sculptor
4. Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet and novelist
5. Pierre Mendès France (1907-1982), French Prime Minister
6. Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012), British hairdresser
7. Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), French philosopher
8. Neil Sedaka (born 1939), American singer-songwriter
9. Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010), British music impresario


A Creative Writing Transformative Education Activity

 Invite students to create a book of A person in My Life.

It will be easy to have our students write a poem to an important person in their lives by simply following this process.

  1. First create your own poem following the process, in order that you can model it with conviction and authenticity.
  2. Ask the group to be silent, to have paper and pencil ready, and to be prepared to write following your prompts.
  3. Invite the reflection of how much we owe the people around us, who have allowed us to survive, who support us to celebrate who we are. Then ask them to think about one of the many people in their lives who are important to them. Emphasize that it could be anyone, a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a relative, a neighbor, a teacher, a friend.
  4. Read each of the prompts slowly. Give your own response to the prompt. Pause to give them time to write. Then repeat successively with every prompt.

You will find here the prompts, as well as a response to them.

Be aware that this process can bring about emotions, be ready to accept them, validate them, and be supportive of the person feeling the emotions, without interrupting the activity. Trust the process. It is very enriching. The example My Grandmother has been used by Alma Flor Ada in many settings.with adult participants It always works because it is authentic. You should create and use your own example to give authenticity to the exercise and have a greater impact. And, of course, you may adapt it to your students’ age, if you wish.

A person in my life

I hear…
I smell…
I pretend…
I feel…
I experience…
I suffer…
I wish…
I decide…
I hope…
I believe…
I am…

My grandmother

I hear her steps as she enters my room.
I smell her soft fragrance of talcum powder and ilang-ilang.
I pretend to be still sleeping so that she will take me in her arms.
I feel happy and safe being with her.
I experience her brisk steps as she takes me to the fields.
I suffer knowing there are children who will never know this unconditional love.
I wish her memory will continue to be alive in my family.
I decide I will try to share what I learned from her.
I hope her dreams for justice, equality and peace will come true.
I believe in life and the power of love.
I am a grateful granddaughter.

The poem can be easily transformed into a book.

But there is no limit to the structure that a book about a person in my life can take.

To find the principles of Transformative Education and the Authors in the Classroom Process go to

Specifically to see examples of A person in my life books written by teachers, students and their parents  you can go to:


Related Books Grades 2-4


loveamaliaLove, Amalia by Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel Zubizarreta

oradedespertarOra de despertar. Original Ladino Songs for Children by Sara Aroeste

luckybrokengirlLucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

sephardictalesA Children’s Treasury of Sephardic Tales by Artscroll

mayasblanketMaya’s Blanket by Mónica Brown

nonoskissesNono’s Kisses for Sephardic Children by Flori Senor Rosenthal

thepowerofsongsThe Power of Song and Other Sephardic Tales by Rita Roth

Related Books Grades 4-8


jewishparrotThe Jewish Parrot and other Judeo-Spanish Tales by François Azar

storyyosefcaroThe Story of Maran Beit Yosef: R. Yosef Caro by Avie Gold

Traveling Heavy. A memoir in between journeys by Ruth Behar

secretofalongjourneyThe Secret of a Long Journey by Sandra Sánchez Shwayder