Here’s our Cuba reading list and pre-trip movie nights. As we noted in our post on keeping kids riveted, previewing learning before a trip helps to create a meaningful and lasting impact for kids…and adults. The book covers link directly to Amazon. Any purchase you make through these links adds a tiny + in a long list of -s in the RK bank account. Thank you for your support of our efforts!
Cuba reading list for Kids
Beija read Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa and The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez. This has probably never happened with your kids, but she is in a bit of an uncommunicative phase. The most I could get on these books was that they were “ok.” This could mean that they were amazing or average. Update: Beija talked more about these books while on our trip and it sounds like The Red Umbrella gave her some good insights into what it may have been like for a child during the Revolution. Cuba 15 was more about an American girl coming to terms with her Cuban heritage so less useful to her in understanding Cuba itself but still enjoyable.
Cuba reading list for the Grownups or advanced kids
Jon Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life is an encyclopedic narrative of Che’s life and the Cuban Revolution. Told from an honest, clear-eyed perspective, it gave me incredible insights into Cuba and the intent behind the Revolution. Sometimes dry, but always informative, this is a critical read. The rich narrative in Carlos Eire’s Waiting for Snow in Havana made me feel what it must have been like to be a small boy in Havana. The danger and joys of his boy life, the growing uncertainty, and subsequent darkness were compelling. Have you ever read a book where every character made you feel icky but somehow you felt moved by the story from that arm’s-length view? That is how I felt about Telex from Cuba. The women’s relationships in Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban are magical and powerful. Reality is flexible. You see the story from both sides of the ocean and both sides of the politics. I loved both of these books. Either of these might be ok for your mature reader but you should evaluate for yourselves. I let my 11 year-old watch Una Noche, so I may not be trustworthy.
I ran out of time before my trip, but I plan to bring one of these on my Kindle and read the others later. Our Man in Havana is also a movie.
This movie was at once beautiful and unbearable to watch. Caution for young kids or those sensitive to tension or sexual situations. It has some extremely adult themes. Beija watched it but then requested Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to cleanse her mind of the darkness.
I guess you can’t rent this movie anymore-we tried Netflix and Amazon streaming. So we just bought it. If you live in Seattle we’ll lend it to you! This was a beautiful story behind the amazing music of the Cuban All Stars. The personalities of many of the performers emerged in this documentary. They were sweet and funny and pragmatic. Beija loved it too.
This was an old documentary that seemed to try to show what life was like for Cubans of different social classes under Castro. A very different take than some of the other films. Somewhat hard to watch for Beija because of the poor film quality – she isn’t used to the old school look.
This was a moving and positive portrait of two Cuban baseball players and brothers. The strength of family ties and commitment to your passion were inspiring. We aren’t huge sports people, but still really enjoyed it.
I am sure I haven’t been comprehensive here. Let me know what books and movies you loved and I’ll add them to the list!