Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a meaningful holiday celebrated in Central America and beyond, where people honor their deceased loved ones. Originating from ancient beliefs of the Aztec, Toltec, and Nahua people, it occurs on November 1 and 2. During this time, families create altars with flowers, candles, and photos, offering favorite foods to welcome back the spirits. This celebration helps openly address death, a topic often avoided, offering comfort and emphasizing the importance of cherishing memories. To promote awareness about death and grief, communities can encourage open conversations, share personal stories, and participate in communal rituals, breaking the stigma. Creating safe spaces and supporting organizations offering grief counseling can also help individuals cope with loss and promote an understanding of the natural cycle of life and death.
What can you do in your classroom to raise awareness and address the topic age-appropriately?
Incorporating diverse and age-appropriate books like “Just a Minute” by Yuyi Morales, “Where Do They Go?” by Julia Alvarez, “Dance Like a Leaf” by AJ Irving and Claudia Navarro (Illustrator), and “We Dream Medicine Dreams” by Lisa Boivin into the classroom can be a powerful way to raise awareness and address the topic of death. Reading these books aloud allows for meaningful discussions about different cultures, beliefs, and experiences related to death.
Here are some great books to have in your preschool classroom library:
- Violet the Snowgirl: A Story of Loss and Healing By Lisa L. Walsh and Wendy Leach (Illustrator
- My Grandma’s Photos By Özge Bahar Sunar, Senta Urgan (Illustrator), and Amy Marie Spangler (Translator)
- Singing with Elephants By Margarita Engle
Community engagement opportunities:
- Día de Muertos Exhibition, Oct. 14–Nov. 5; free, More information
- Altars, Pinata’s and Aztec Dancers Art created by local students, October 27 to November 12, 2023, More information
- Day of the Dead Festival at Civic Center downtown, October 28th, More information