Duncan Tonatiuh's Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is a beautiful book with a universal message – people, no matter where they are from, have similar experiences. Two cousins, one that lives in America and the other in Mexico, write letters back and forth to each other that reveal details from their everyday lives. The boys participate in similar activities but in slightly different ways. For instance, both boys go to school, one by subway and the other by bicycle. Also, in the summer, when they get hot, both boys use water to cool down. One boy uses the fire hydrant and the other jumps in the river. This symbolizes how people seek the same things no matter where they are from. For parents and teachers, this theme is terrific to use as a way to talk to children about culture because it shows how people are more similar than we often think. Parents or teachers could also go into even more detail by discussing immigration and how the cultures of people that come to the United States influence and is influenced by their new home. For Hispanic children, the book can serve as a way to discuss their family and other important issues.
In addition to the theme, Tonatiuh incorporates Spanish throughout the book, an element, which makes the book great to teach children about Spanish. He incorporates the Spanish words into the text and labels the images with the words. Tonatiuh also illustrates the book in a way that is engaging to the reader. The collage-like images are simple and at the same time a great deal of fun.
Duncan Tonatiuh's Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin serves as an engaging teaching tool. Parents and teachers can utilize the book to teach about language, culture, and immigration. This book is a terrific example of how children's literature can engage children to teach them about important lessons.