Rigoberta Menchu’s Biography (Free Spanish Lessons for Kids)
If you’re looking for a meaningful Spanish lesson for kids, check out Rigoberta Menchú’s biography!
Rigoberta Menchú is an indigenous activist who fought for the rights of native Mayans in Guatemala and against the government’s military brutality. That same administration was responsible for her relatives’ deaths—and the spark that lit an undying flame inside her.
Even though Rigoberta Menchú has faced many tragedies in her life, she is an international representative for the rights of the most vulnerable people.
Find out who the girl from Chimel is, access read-aloud books related to this real-life heroine, and inspire your children with her quotes!
Table of Contents:
- Rigoberta Menchú Tum Biography
- Why is Rigoberta Menchú Important?
- Rigoberta Menchú Quotes
- 6 Books for Read Alouds
- Activities to Reinforce Vocabulary For Kids
- Let Rigoberta Menchú Be the Gateway to More Latin American Heroes
Rigoberta Menchú Tum Biography
Who was Rigoberta Menchu?
Rigoberta Menchú was an indigenous activist born in Chimel, Guatemala in 1959. She spent most of her childhood helping her family on their plantation.
When she grew up, she joined the women’s rights movement and tried to initiate social change.
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Explore more FREE SPANISH LESSONS FOR KIDS! ➡️
Enjoy over 70 unique lessons + free activity packets to download.
Rigoberta Menchú Facts and Family
The government persecuted Rigoberta Menchú and her family under false accusations. She lost her parents and brother, ended up alone, and had to flee to Mexico in 1981.
From there, she joined other movements to stop violence in Guatemala against indigenous peasants. Soon, she became aware of her potential as a public speaker, book author, and leadership skills.
Important Life Events: Nobel Peace Prize
Among Rigoberta Menchú’s many accomplishments, the one that stands out the most is winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her efforts in favor of indigenous rights.
She used the prize money to create the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, continuing her work of protecting the poorest and more vulnerable people in Guatemala.
The international attention she got from telling her story helped the Mayan Quiché and other native groups. In 2004, Guatemala’s president asked for her help in implementing peace agreements.
Continue Reading: 6 Latin American Nobel Prize Winners in Literature
Why is Rigoberta Menchú Important?
Rigoberta Menchú is a peaceful warrior who advocates for all ethnicities, races, and cultures in Guatemala. She seeks fair treatment to those who are impoverished and segregated.
Social justice has been missing since the European conquest of the Americas. Her Nobel Peace Prize win happened in the same year the planet commemorated 500 years since Columbus arrived in the “New World.”
It is important to understand that many aspects of this historical period were negative for those who owned the land: the indigenous people.
Also, Rigoberta Menchú grew up in an era of intolerance, corruption, and violence committed by the Guatemalan government. She fought to improve the reality of oppression that she and her people were subjected to.
Rigoberta Menchú Quotes
Rigoberta Menchú’s life is inspiring and empowering, and her quotes help us understand her struggle and achievements.
Choose a couple to print out and hang on the wall for your kids to help them remember Rigoberta’s message.
1. La única lucha que se pierde es la que se abandona.
The only battle that is lost is the one that is abandoned.
2. Este mundo no va a cambiar a menos que estemos dispuestos a cambiar nosotros mismos.
This world is not going to change unless we are willing to change ourselves.
3. A nosotros los Mayas nos enseñan desde pequeños que nunca hay que tomar más de lo que necesitas para vivir.
The Mayans teach us from an early age that you should never take more than you need to live.
4. Si el mundo no aprende ahora a respetar a la naturaleza, ¿qué futuro tendrán las nuevas generaciones?
If the world does not learn now to respect nature, what future will the new generations have?
5. Nosotros tenemos que ser una luz para los demás, no una oscuridad para los demás.
We have to be a light for others, not a darkness for others.
6. Me considero una mujer militante de aquellas causas que todavía no tienen voz.
I consider myself an advocate for those causes that still do not have a voice.
7. El problema es que el miedo te vuelve intolerante con los demás.
The problem is that fear makes you intolerant of others.
8. La paz es hija de la convivencia, de la educación, del diálogo. El respeto a las culturas milenarias hace nacer la paz en el presente.
Peace is the daughter of coexistence, of education, of dialogue. Respect for ancient cultures gives rise to peace in the present.
Hand-picked for you: 8 Things Living in Guatemala Taught Me
6 Books for Read Alouds
Here’s a book list to use at home or in your classroom. Some are about Rigoberta Menchú, and others are related to her, Guatemala, or Latin American culture. Use this lesson to help your kids experience diversity, multiculturality, and tolerance to other people and realities.
1. The Honey Jar: Menchú, Rigoberta
Rigoberta Menchú’s grandparents used to tell her ancient Mayan stories. Now you can tell them to your children. Rediscover your surroundings: the sky, animals, gods, underworld, and cosmos through the eyes of the little one who became a banner of humanity and kindness.
2. Mama and Papa Have a Store
A family of Chinese immigrants relocate to Guatemala City and open a store. The kids grew up listening to Chinese, Spanish, and Mayan languages and had to adjust their ideas of culture and learn how to manage them. Talk about diversity!
3. Abuela’s Weave
Woven clothing is a unique characteristic of the indigenous people of the Americas. From Mexico to Argentina, they change fabric, patterns, and styles from region to region, but every society has pieces that identify their ethnic background.
This book is about Esperanza and her grandmother, who handcraft clothes, just as Mayans have done for generations. After making them, they must travel to the city to sell them, but Esperanza is nervous about the competition: machine-made clothes.
On top of that, people think that the birthmark of her grandmother indicates she is a witch, so no one will buy from her. The little girl wants to save the day. Can she do it?
4. The Race of the Toad and Deer
Folktales are the heart and soul of civilizations. They make us remember how things were in ancient times.
Two animals are the main characters of this magical Guatemalan story. A toad and a deer engage in a race. One of them has everything to win, the other one will need a little help from his friends. Find out who reaches the finish line first!
5. The Wheels on the Bus
More than a read-aloud, this is a sing-along. Members of a Latin American family get on a bus to the city, but a flat tire turns all of their plans into a musical journey.
6. The Girl From Chimel by Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú brings back to life the lost world of Guatemala of her early years. Through magical tales, she shares how her people had to endure tragedies since the beginning of the conquest, and how she coped listening to her parents and grandparents tell these stories.
Explore more FREE SPANISH LESSONS FOR KIDS! ➡️
Enjoy over 70 unique lessons + free activity packets to download.
Activities to Reinforce Vocabulary For Kids
1. Word of the Day
Introduce a new word to your children every day, and put them into context so they can start using each one right away!
Depending on your kids’ age and level, choose easy, moderate or difficult words:
|hero, heroine||el héroe, la heroína|
|native||el nativo, la nativa|
If your children are intermediate or advanced Spanish students, teach more challenging words like the ones below:
|peasants||los campesinos, las campesinas|
|public speaker||el orador público, la oradora pública|
|social changes||los cambios sociales|
2. Word Search
Word puzzles are exciting and fun. It’s a way of testing our senses and skills while playing a game. Reinforce Spanish vocabulary by using these puzzle:
- Premio Nobel
- Rigoberta Menchú
There’s a reason old-fashioned flashcards still exist. This brain exercise is perfect for learning a new language regardless of their age or level.
Use the vocabulary in this lesson to make flashcards for your kids to practice with.
4. Word Match
Here is a word match a little more challenging than the previous activities, use this matching worksheet to have a fun time with your little one.
|social justice||la justicia social|
5. Write a Letter to Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú is still alive and well. Benefit from the fact that this leader is just one letter or email away, and encourage your children to write to this heroine.
Miss Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Premio Nobel de la Paz
Heriberto Frías 339
03020 CDMX, México
Let Rigoberta Menchú Be the Gateway to More Latin American Heroes
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