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Monchi likes to write poems, hang out with his cousin Dreamer, and tell stories to his uncle, Tío Rogelio. Then one day, a member of the local gang tells him it's time to join up. "But first you have to prove yourself," he says. It Doesn't Have To Be This Way is a compelling tale of a young boy's encounter with the world of gangs—a world that author Luis J. Rodríguez knows firsthand. Through his mesmerizing true-to-life story and the dynamic illustrations of artist Daniel Galvez, we see how Monchi is both attracted to the community of gang life and repelled by its violence. There is no easy answer to his dilemma, but the love and respect of his Uncle Rogelio help him find a way out.

It Doesn't Have To Be This Way / No tiene que ser así: A Barrio Story / Una historia del barrio

Lee and Low Lesson plan