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Social Justice and El Biblioburro for the Spanish Language Classroom
Language study can open a student's eyes to social issues around the world. In rural Colombia, teacher and child advocate Luis Soriano brings books to students who have little access to them. Traveling to schools throughout La Magdalena with his donkey library, or El Biblioburro, Soriano exposes young students to literacy and a love of reading. Learning about this grassroots project, students of Spanish can learn about geography, socioeconomic inequities, and history while participating in class projects to improve the lives of others.
Resources for teaching social justice topics in the WL classroom:
  • Book: Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell (free ebook for ACTFL members).
  • Booklet: “Global Competence for an Inclusive World,” report from the OECD.
  • PowerPoint: Concordia workshop: Teaching WL Topics through the Lens of Social Justice."
  • Webinar: “Opening Windows to the World Through Social Justice Education.”
  • Blog: Cult of Pedagogy - A collection of resources for teaching social justice; meant for English-language classes, but a good collection of materials/background info.
Resources for teaching about El Biblioburro:
  • Read the article in Language Magazine: "The Amazing Case of El Biblioburro."
  • View the PowerPoint and handout from this presentation for an overview of this thematic unit.
  • Download a 15-page thematic unit for students: "El Biblioburro y Colombia."
  • Visit my Pinterest board with resources and images about the Biblioburro.
  • Share videos in English and in Spanish about the Biblioburro from this YouTube playlist.
  • Watch this BBC video (in Spanish with English subtitles) about the Biblioburro.
  • Two picturebooks in English and in Spanish can be shared with students:


  • The Biblioburro Blog - This is the official blogsite of the Fundación Biblioburro. There are beautiful photos (like the three photos above), posts about the different projects, and other informacion on this site.
  • Fun for Spanish Teachers celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Biblioburro with an excellent TPRS-ready story complete with illustrations along with worksheets - ¡fabuloso! 


  • Veinte Mundos - The amazing digital magazine produced an article entitled "Biblioburro: La Increíble Labor de un Profesor Colombiano." Included is a 9 minute audio report about the Biblioburro with full transcript and highlighted vocabulary. There is a "lenguaje" tab with comprehension questions; a multimedia tab with videos and links, and a "viaja" tab with background information about Colombia. This site is an entire thematic unit unto itself!
  • POV| Biblioburro: The Donkey Library - This site from PBS and the series POV (Point of View) has a wealth of incredible resources for learning and teaching about the Biblioburro. Some of the highlights include:
    • Lesson plan - Volunteer to address local literacy needs; full lesson including objectives, activity, extensions, resources, and standards.
    • Take action! Learn how to donate books to Luis Soriano and his Fundación Biblioburro.
    • Photo gallery - Many photographs taken during the filming of the documentary.
  • Colors Magazine - A fantastic graphic novel about Luis Soriano and the Biblioburro, part of a series about "Superheroes." It is in English, but it might make an interesting project for students to create their own dialogue in Spanish by whiting out the English text. 

  • Everyday hero - blog entry from Spanish teacher Shannon O'Shea about Luis Soriano. Shannon drew a beautiful image of the Biblioburro that would make a great handout for students!
  • Spanish Cuentos - Profe Klein from SpanishCuentos.com has some excellent printables, maps, posters, and readers that center around Colombia themes. Among them are:
    • Peter va a Colombia - a simple reader for beginning Spanish students that tells the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Colombia and meets the Biblioburro along the way!
    • Biblioburro printable (below right) - a fun activity for kids to print, cut out, and assemble so they can have their own Luis and burro!
    • Biblioburro coloring page (below left) - created for our elementary Spanish students with an adorable illustration from Peter va a Colombia (with permission from Profe Klein - ¡Gracias, Profe!)