Back to School Books

This month, I’m sharing several books to get your child ready for school. If you have a child worried about starting Kindergarten or maybe you have a preschooler, either way, I’ll be sharing books to help get your kids excited for the next school year. Click HERE to see all the books for Back to School.


By: Sendy Santamaria

Published: June 27, 2023

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


Author Sendy Santamaria grew up living along both sides of the US/Mexico border. As an American citizen, she took a similar commute to school just like Yenebi in this story. This story has been in her heart for a long time, especially after being asked in college to write a story that would resonate with young people. By reading this story, she hopes that it will encourage the reader to have empathy for each other. This book comes in both the Spanish and English versions. Since our community has a large Hispanic population, I plan to donate both copies to our elementary school ELA instructor. If your school has this program, you may also consider adding these books to your school library or resource programs.

Yenebi and her sister Melanie must get up at 4:00 in the morning in order to make it to school on time. They must get up early to get in the long line to cross the border into America to get to school. Since the line moves so slowly, vendors line the paths between the cars selling hats, necklaces, and food including tamales. Yenebi and her sister love getting a tamale for breakfast.

As they get closer to the border, the girls sit up straight and their mom passes the documents to the officer. All is clear and Yenebi and Melanie will be able to get to school on time. The girls head off to their classrooms with promises to meet their mom by the blue tables at the end of the day.

For children that live near the border, this is a common scenario and one that is hard to imagine in our area of the country. Here, it is common for farm kids to get up at 4:00 in the morning to do chores before getting on the school bus, but there is no fear that they will not be able to get there. For Yenebi and other children like her, there is a chance they will not make it to school on time due to crossing the border. This book can offer an excellent conversation about sacrifices some children make to be able to attend school in America. The English version also includes several Spanish phrases that make the reading authentic and offer an opportunity for learning.

Sendy Santamaria is an Oakland-based Xicana illustrator and designer from the US-Mexico border region. She primarily paints traditionally with acrylic but has extended her palette with various mediums including embroidery, ceramics, hand-lettering, printmaking, and mural arts. Her work celebrates hard work, family tradition, and observational narratives. She currently works as a Design Associate and lives in Oakland, California.

To purchase a copy of either the English or Spanish version of YENEBI’S DRIVE TO SCHOOL, click the photos below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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