A Guatemalan Girl Gets Enough to Eat

A Guatemalan Girl Gets Enough to Eat
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.42

     challenging words:    hand-embroidered, instability, mountainous, exotic, malnourished, nutrition, capes, civilization, spite, malnutrition, affected, meaning, unique, affects, natural, eternal
     content words:    Eight-year-old Mirtala, Latin America, Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Stan, Many Guatemalan

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Other Languages
     French: Une jeune Guatémaltèque mange à sa faim
     Spanish: Una chica guatemalteca consigue suficiente para comer
     Italian: Una ragazza guatemalteca ha abbastanza da mangiare
     German: Ein Mädchen aus Guatemala bekommt genug zu essen

A Guatemalan Girl Gets Enough to Eat
By Colleen Messina

1     Eight-year-old Mirtala patted the earth around the base of the tree she planted. She looked at her thumb to see if it was green yet. Her mother told her that having a green thumb would help their family. Mirtala liked planting trees. The green leaves tickled her chin and made Mirtala laugh with joy. The work she did helped her family with some big challenges.
2     Mirtala's family started to have problems last year when her father became sick. He went to the hospital in a city far from their small village in Guatemala. Her mother washed clothes for her neighbors to earn money for food, but it wasn't enough. Her mother said, "I told God to please help me because my husband is sick in the hospital and my children are hungry." Mirtala's mother was very worried about her family. After all, she had twelve children to feed.
3     One day, some visitors came to the village with a new idea. The area needed new trees so the soil would not wash away. The project was called "reforestation." The people in charge of reforestation needed workers to plant the trees. Mirtala's family needed food and work until her father was well. So, that is how Mirtala's family got their new jobs and a steady supply of delicious food. In exchange for their work, her family receives rice, beans, corn, sardines, oil, and medicine. Mirtala is grateful because she remembers many nights when she went to bed hungry.

Paragraphs 4 to 10:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

Extended Activities:

1.  Pretend that you are organizing a Mayan fashion show. Research Mayan costumes. Draw pictures of at least three kinds of Mayan costumes, and put together outfits that look as close to the Mayan costumes as you can. Model your costumes for your class.

2.  The Guatemalan Zoo wants to visit Mirtala's village and collect some animals and birds that live there. If her village is in the tropical part of Guatemala, what kinds of animals and birds would the zoo officials find there? Describe at least five creatures that thrive in a tropical climate.

3.  Pretend that you own a landscaping company in the United States. You were asked to put together a care package for Mirtala to help her family grow their garden. Write a description of five items that you would put in a Gardening Kit for Mirtala to help her cultivate her "green thumb."

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