GUIDE: Dear Primo -- A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

Updated: Jan 30

Dear Primo-Jenny
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Dear Primo

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Dear Primo is a story about two cousins, Carlitos and Charlie. Charlie lives in the United States, and Carlitos lives in Mexico, and their lives are different yet very similar. For example, Carlitos takes a dip at his local rio to cool off on a hot summer day, while Charlie enjoys the water rushing out of a fire hydrant with the kids from his block.

Living with immigrant parents and growing up in Mexican household, I could relate to both Carlitos and Charlie's experiences. My American identity is just as real as my Mexican identity. I eat most of my foods with tortillas and enjoy pizza on days I don’t feel like cooking; charros and breakdancers are both fascinating to watch, and I communicate in Spanish and in English with my friends and family. When I was younger and would speak to my family from Mexico, I would tell them about my experiences living in the United States and what I would eat and watch on television, and my cousins would tell me about their experiences in Mexico.

Growing up, I always wondered how it would be living in Mexico with my extended family, growing up where my parents did, and how different my life would be. Juggling between two cultures has made me become who I am to this day. Dear Primo is a reflection of both of my identities, and combined they make me who I am; a proud Chicana. Grades: 3-5 Genre: Fiction

Listen and Watch Dear, Primo



Purchase Dear, Primo: Here

Discussion Questions

  1. The book Dear Primo centers around Charlie writing letters to his cousin Carlitos who lives in a different country. Do you have family that lives outside of the country? If so, how do you communicate with those family members? If not, how do you communicate with your family members that live in your country?

  2. Throughout the book, Charlie and Carlitos’ lives are being compared and contrasted. How does your experience reflect Charlie's? How does your day-to-day experience differ from your family members?

  3. The book of Dear Primo integrates both English and Spanish in the reading. Do you speak any other languages other than English? What languages do you speak to communicate with your family members? Does your extended family speak a different language than you? Do you know anyone who speaks a second or third language?

  4. Charlie eats pizza, and Carlitos eats quesadillas. Does your family cook meals related to your cultural roots? What is your favorite home cooked meal? What’s your favorite food?

Relevant Identity & Diversity Standards for Grades 3-5

  • Identity Standard 1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and describe our various group identities.

  • Identity Standard 5: I know my family and I do things the same as and different from other people and groups, and I know how to use what I learn from home, school and other places that matter to me.

Extended Learning

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