The Coquies Still Sing

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
by Karina Nicole Gonzalez: A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to learn about the impact of the Puerto Rican hurricane on families and the environment and how the Latinx community came together to rebuild.

In 2017, a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico. Many people died or lost their homes. Around 130,000 people left the island because rebuilding was too difficult. Philanthropy helped bring the island back in the form of donations and mutual aid, which means people worked together. The islanders decided together how to rebuild while prioritizing justice and culture. The book and discussion help readers recognize the important elements of community, culture, the natural world, and working together for the good of all.

Core Philanthropy Theme: When disaster strikes, people come together to rebuild. This includes people from around the world who feel a strong desire to help. It is important for everyone involved to put in the center the choices, values, and cultures of the people impacted so the community comes back stronger with pride and ownership.

Before Reading

Show: Look at the tiny frog on the cover. The coqui is a beloved frog whose song is familiar and meaningful in Puerto Rican culture. Before the hurricane, this frog's habitat was already in danger, but the frogs almost disappeared after the 2017 hurricane.

Ask: Why do you think people loved the song of the frogs so much? Note: you may enjoy reading first-hand accounts of the frogs in the "About the Author and Illustrator" section in the back of the book. 

Connect: What is a familiar sound in your neighborhood? What does it mean to you? What are some of the sounds of the seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) where you live?

During Reading

Show: Compare the pictures before and after the hurricane. What changed?

Ask: What would it be like to lose everything, including familiar things indoors and outdoors? How did the community in the book work together?

Connect: Do you know of any stories of people working together to repair or build something for the good of the community? Why do people do work they aren't paid to do - volunteer work?

After Reading

Show: Look at the page with community members gardening after the hurricane. Read and talk about the words related to hope and gathering.

Ask: What do the words "my roots are strong" mean to you in the book and in your family/community?

Connect: What is a place where you feel joy or peace? Notice how the main character feels when the trees bud and the frogs sing again. Bringing yourself to that special place in your imagination can help you relax or feel good. 


  1. Take a moment to listen to the coqui on YouTube. What are your thoughts and feelings? Make a plan to sit outside in the morning and evening to listen to natural sounds. Make a list of the sounds you hear.
  2. Plan a community garden. Make a list of what is needed and who can help. This guide introduces young people to a community garden project.
  3. Read about Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017). Write about the people who came together to help, including the cast of the show Hamilton
  4. Try a sample of mango and other tropical fruits. Describe the flavors. Record your observations with pictures and words in a booklet or digital presentation.
  5. The author said she wrote the book because when she was a child, there were no books about people from her culture and she wanted to make books for children who look like her. Find books that feature people from your family tradition. What is it like to read about people like yourself who overcome hard things?
  6. Ask your grandparents to tell stories about their early lives. You could make a video of their stories. Here is a how-to guide for recording oral history.