Hiram College

Big Read Resources

Use these many resources to enhance your reading and discussion of "Into the Beautiful North".

Connections to Current Events

“Underworld: How the Sinaloa Drug Cartel Builds Its Tunnels” by Monte Reel from the August 3, 2015 New Yorker

This New Yorker article provides insight into how the drug cartel of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, built the elaborate tunnels that transport its drugs and helped him escape from prison. His cartel is based in Sinaloa, the home state of Nayeli in Into the Beautiful North, and a tunnel like his might have helped Nayeli cross the border into the U.S.

“The Growing Demand for ‘Fair Food'”

A CBS News story looks at the migrant workers who pick crops in the United States, often under terrible and exploitative conditions. One of the locations mentioned is Kankakee, Illinois, where Nayeli’s father has gone to work in Into the Beautiful North. The website includes an 8-minute video of the CBS News story as well as links to further stories on a CBS documentary on the issue done in 1960, current uses of child labor in the fields, and proposed solutions to the problem.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

The official website for U.S. Border Patrol.

Resources from The Big Read/National Endowment for the Arts

Into the Beautiful North Audio Guide

This 29-minute audio guide includes discussions of the novel by Luis Alberto Urrea, other writers, and professors as well as excerpts from the novel read aloud. You can download it to your mobile device and subscribe to the Big Read podcast at this link.

Teacher’s Guide for Into the Beautiful North

This page includes lesson plans, project ideas, and essay topics for teachers interested in teaching Urrea’s novel. The site also outlines the NCTE and Language Arts standards met by the classroom guidelines.

Further Reading

Ten Young Adult Books that Reflect the U.S. Immigration Experience

This blog post by Natalie Dias Lorenzi, a school librarian in Washington D.C., on the website Nerdy Book Club lists 10 books for young adults about teenagers who must confront life in a new environment after leaving homes in countries and cultures as disparate as Mexico, South Sudan, Japan, and the Alaskan Arctic. In her introduction, Lorenzi also includes a link to a similar post with books for middle-grade readers.

Other Works by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Big Read Website provides a complete list of other works by Urrea, including his nonfiction works and his poetry as well as his fiction.

Books Similar to Into the Beautiful North and Authors who Influenced Urrea

This list compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts suggests several works similar to Into the Beautiful North as well as a list of diverse authors who had an impact on Urrea’s writing, including Mark Twain, Pablo Neruda, and Japanese haiku poets.

Cultural Resources

PowerPoint on Latino Cultures

This PowerPoint presentation was created by members of LUNA, Hiram College’s Latino student organization. It provides fascinating facts about a number of Latino cultures and countries in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. The students presented the PowerPoint at Latino Food and Culture night on September 22.

Mexican Culture and History Through Its National Holidays

This National Endowment for the Humanities site provides background on major Mexican holidays but also on the religion, politics, and culture behind those holidays.