Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!

Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we are continuing to reach out to our community with tips and ideas for consuming media with kids! We know that screen time has increased and so we’re here to help. Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to two selected programs, one for younger viewers and one for older viewers, each with related activities and resources.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!

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Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
Students Grades 3+ can join us for a weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the week’s theme and engage in some hands-on learning led by a Paley Educator. Parents and teachers are welcome to join as well!

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Hispanic Heritage Month Continues!

As part of The Paley Center for Media’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, we are focusing our recommendations on Hispanic culture for four weeks. This week it's all about music! Music plays an important role in shaping identity, so it should be no surprise that it is also a huge part of learning about other cultures. There are in fact hundreds of musical styles that exist in the Hispanic diaspora. Most of the music stems from three main sources: indigenous people, European settlers, and enslaved Africans. From Latin jazz, cumbia, and Chicano rock to reggaeton, bachata, and salsa, Hispanic music is as diverse as the people that make it. We hope you enjoy a tiny fraction of this melodious merging of cultures, instruments, dance, and storytelling by watching our musical recommendations this week!

Para leer en español, haga clic aquí.

This Week's Recommendations for Younger Viewers

Coco (2017)
Recommended for Grades 2+
Available to stream on Disney+

Coco is the story of Miguel, a young boy from Santa Cecilia, Mexico, who dreams of being a musician against the wishes of his family. When Miguel is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead on Día de los Muertos, he hopes to track down his great-great-grandfather, a celebrated musician, to help him return to his family and reverse the ban on music in his home. The film features beautiful songs, and a stellar all-Latino cast. It also connects deeply to Elementary curriculum units like family, community, and global understanding. It is a powerful example of the importance of representation in popular culture and a celebration of the things that connect us all… family, music, art, and love. Disney+ has a Spanish language version of the film available to stream as well!

Viewing Questions
  • Describe Miguel. What does he care most about?
  • Who are the members of his family? Describe them. What do they care about?
  • Notice everything you can about Miguel’s home and his community. What details do you notice?
  • What is Miguel’s biggest problem?
  • How does he end up in the Land of the Dead?
  • Notice everything you can about the Land of the Dead. What details do you notice? What are the similarities and differences between the real world and the Land of the Dead?
  • What lesson(s) does Miguel learn over the course of the film? What lessons does Miguel’s family learn?
  • What role do music/art/culture play in his community?
  • What did you learn about Mexican history and culture while watching? What else do you want to know?

Selena (1997)
Recommended for Grades 5+
Available to rent on Amazon/iTunes/GooglePlay

This biographical musical film, starring Jennifer Lopez in her breakout role, is about the life and career of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a recording artist well known in Mexico and US Latino communities. She grew up in Texas and opened the door for many female Latina singers and is credited with catapulting Tejano music into the mainstream market. She was tragically murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club, at the age of twenty-three. This emotional movie offers some great life lessons and sparks conversations about women in the music industry and the challenges of having a dual identity. It opened at number two in the box office, and went on to become one of the highest grossing music biopics of all time.

Viewing Questions
  • What do we learn about Abraham Quintanilla’s experience in the music business at the beginning of the film? How do you think that influenced how he rehearsed and managed Selena y Los Dinos later on?
  • What was Selena’s childhood like? Describe her early life.
  • When in the film do we know that she is becoming a star?
  • What specific things happen to push her career forward?
  • What does her father say about being Mexican-American? What does he mean when he says they have to be ‘twice as perfect’? 
  • What do you think would have happened to Selena’s career if she was still alive today?
This Week's Recommendations for Older Viewers

Ya no estoy aquí (I am No Longer Here) (2019)
Recommended for Grades 10+
Available to stream on Netflix

This thoughtful independent film is a musical drama written and directed by Fernando Frías de la Parra. Set in 2011, in the slums of Monterrey, Mexico, a seventeen-year-old teenager named Ulises is the leader of a gang called Los Terkos. Los Terkos dedicate themselves to hanging out and following the counterculture of Kolombia: a lifestyle that consists of dancing and listening to "Cumbia rebajada" (a slowed version of Cumbia). Members dress in bright baggy clothes and sport homemade, eccentric hairdos. The majority of their time is spent attending dance parties and showing off their stylish colors. After a misunderstanding with a local cartel, Ulises is forced to leave behind his family, friends, and everything he loves and flee to New York City. Music serves as a symbol of the culture and identity Ulises leaves in Monterrey. Several times he tries to share cumbia with American friends who can’t quite engage in its joy, adding to his feeling of longing for home. Frias de la Parra’s camera work is visually stunning and the narrative is woven together in a nonlinear way that challenges the viewer to pay attention, so put your phone down as watch this one!

Viewing Questions
  • Describe the setting of the film.
  • What is life like for the teenagers we meet? What do they do each day and how would you describe their style? 
  • What role does music and dance play in their lives?
  • What happens that forces Ulises to leave Monterrey?
  • Where does he go and how does he survive there? How is life different for him in New York?
  • What is his friendship with Lin like? What do they learn from each other?
  • Why do you think the director mixes the timelines between Monterrey and New York? What impact does it have on how the story is told?
  • How does the director shoot the final scene when Ulises is at home in Monterrey? What message does it send?

Bare Feet with Mikaela Mallozzi: Nuyorican Barrios
Recommended for Grades 6+

From rediscovering her family’s heritage in Southern Italy to dancing tango on the main stage in Buenos Aires, Bare Feet covers Mickela’s adventures as she experiences the world, one dance at a time. This episode focuses on the Bronx which is not only known as the Borough of Salsa, but also the Borough of Music.

Viewing Questions:
  • What do we learn about Puerto Rican migration to New York in this episode?
  • What kinds of music and dance are part of the Nuyorican community?
  • What are the characteristics of bomba music and dance? What is the relationship between the drums and dancer?
  • What do we learn about the history of salsa music and dance in this episode?
  • How does Bobby Sanabria describe the sounds of the Bronx when he was growing up?
  • How would you describe Nuyorican culture based on what you learned in this episode?
Extension Activities: Get Creative!

Additional Resources

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, PK+

Sing Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez, PK+


Buena Vista Social Club (1999), on HBO Max

The Latin Explosion: A New America (2015), on HBO Max


Radio Ambulante, a narrative podcast that tells uniquely Latin American stories in Spanish. Music-focused episodes:

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs
Photos—Coco: Pixar/Disney; I am no Longer Here: Panorama Global
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