Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Tortilla Factory

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Would you like to learn how tortillas make their way to your dinner table?

The Tortilla Factory, by Gary Paulsen, is a perfect read-aloud for the classroom in order to teach young students the growth cycle of corn. Paulsen touches on all aspects of the process, from the planting of the seeds to the harvesting of the corn to the shipping of the baked dough. Students will be enlightened as to all the places the tortilla has been and all the people who have made it possible for the tortilla to be a part of the meal. The book portrays the mechanical devices needed,not only  to produce the tortilla, but to bring it to the places where it will be sold. Whether its planting the corn, mashing the dough or transporting the boxes of tortillas, all these different jobs are crucial to the final stop the tortilla makes, our stomachs. However, Paulsen makes it clear that this is a cyclical process, a never ending sequence that will continue as long as their are people to make it happen.

…eaten by white teeth, to fill a round stomach and give strength to the round hands that work the black earth to plant yellow seeds…

With very few words on the page, and simple, earthy, painted illustrations, this read-aloud makes for a great introduction to learning about economics. The process depicted is universal and can be applied to a wide range of agricultural products like berries or chocolate.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used to explain the differences between goods and services and describe how people are consumers and producers of goods.(1.7)

Additional Resources

Book: The Tortilla Factory
Author:  Gary Paulsen
Illustrator:Ruth Wright Paulsen
Publisher: Voyager Books/ Harcourt Brace
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 26
Grades: 1-3
ISBN: 0-15-201698-8