La Llorona


I often think of ideas a little too late.  Now, for Day of the Dead,  I was right on time (for this year) with the faux sugar skulls we made last week.  During some of my down time, I was looking through one of my many MANY story books I have bought over the past couple of years.  In two of my books, The Day It Snowed Tortillas and Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys, there were two different stories about La Llorona.  I mentioned her to my students, and they were ready to jump in with information and second-hand accounts. It occurred to me that we could read the stories I had found together.

Then, two things happened:  I hit Google for research and I attended a short session about using Thinking Maps.  I realized that there are more than one account of the Legend of La Llorona and thought that my classes could do some activities using some of the mind maps I now had.  So, tomorrow, I am going to break my classes into groups of two or three and attempt the first activity.

First, we are going to use a Circle Map, which is used to help define a thing or idea. It is used to brainstorm ideas and for showing prior knowledge about a topic.  I have one class of 10 students in particular that this is meant for.  Half of the students in the class are Mexican.  The remaining students are Brazilian (4) and African (1).  I plan on pairing up the Mexicans with the non-Mexicans and having them discuss all that they know or have heard about the Legend of La Llorona.  I have some questions to help them with their brainstorming:

  1. Who is La Llorona?
  2. What does she do?
  3. Why does she do this?
  4. What does she look like?
  5. Where does she hang out?
  6. Do you know of any sightings of La Llorona?
  7. Are there any similar stories that you have heard? (This is for students from other cultures)

After we have discussed what they have found out, I plan on having the students watch the video clip I found from Hometown Tales.  I also have an audio clip from NPR about the story and the song of La Llorona.  That is about 10 minutes, barring technical difficulties.  If I have time tonight, I will come up with some “guiding questions” to keep them focused.  I have a couple of other audio and video clips, but I may wait to use those later.  I may also see if I can find a translation of the Spanish lyrics to the song.

Day Two, we will split up again into groups.  I will give each group different versions of the legend that I have found.  They will read them aloud to each other, and then create a Flow Map on chart paper of the plot of the story that they have.  I can even have different classes do different versions.  I will put the different charts up for comparison.  Later, we can use a Double Bubble Map or a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast different stories.

That’s all I have for now.  Other days could include personal accounts, alternate versions of the story where La Llorona is not a killer.

Below is a list of the resources I have found so far on the Internet.

General information: – includes versions of the legend in other Latin American countries.
Handbook of Texas Online
University of Texas resource – great article with illustrations
Legends of America – legends,different Southwest versions, and personal accounts
The Many Legends of La Llorona by C. F. Eckhardt
From Ambergris Cay – Belize legends
The Legend of La Llorona – PDF of a great article by Paul Harden.  Also includes Modern Day La Lloronas…

La – this is the website for The Cry, which was a movie made about La Llorona in 2006 or 2007.  Included is a “timeline” of La Llorona, which seems to me to be a little “Blair Witch” -ish. There is a list of Modern Day La Lloronas – or women who have killed their children (lovely!), similar stories from history and other cultures.  I haven’t looked at the interviews and personal accounts yet, but it looks interesting.

Online versions of the story:
The Joe Hayes version
The Lee Paul version
Another version by Robert Paul Medrano
Two short versions from Spooky Southwest
Mexican version from Aleina Domecq translated by Ilan Stavans – border/coyote story
Obiwan’s UFO-Free Paranormal Page – has several versions of the story, including a German version.  Also, an interesting version with a twist – La Llorona’s bargain with the Devil!
Version by Paulette Atencio
Another Version by storyteller Mary Grace – actually, this is very similar to the Lois Lowery leveled reader
Mexico City Style Story – just found this one last night!
The Wheel Council – with counseling notes for discussion

Rudolfo Anaya:
In addition to the children’s book, Maya’s Children: The Legend of La Llorona, Rudolfo Anaya has short novel called The Legend of La LloronaHere is a lesson plan unit on La Llorona based on this book.  There is even a three act opera version that Anaya helped to adapt.

What’s in a Song?: It’s Mourning in America – this is NPR piece about the folk song.  It is pretty awesome!  There is a narrator that sings the song in the background and also explains the legend.  Also available at Western Folk Life.  It runs 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

La Llorona: An Evolving Myth – A special collaboration between National Radio Project and the U-C Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, student producer Beth Hoffman brings us a look at the myth of La Llorona as told in Oakland, California today, and tells how its meaning has grown and changed over time. It runs 29 minutes and may not keep the attention of some students. – instrumental version of song La Llorona

The Compulsive Traveler – Lila Downs performs La Llorona.  The version is a little slow – it’s not supposed to be an upbeat song…  The Video has images of the artist singing, superimposed on landscapes.  Is she supposed to be La Llorona?  It’s also over 5 minutes long.

Hometown Tales: The Legend of La Llorona – An interesting short piece about the legend in Santa Fe, NM.  It was not easy to find a version that is not on YouTube, which is blocked by our school’s firewall.  About 6 minutes long.

Children’s Books:
Prietita and The Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldua and Maya Christina Gonzalez.  A kinder, gentler Llorona… Includes an MP3 of a little girl reading the story.

The Day it Snowed Tortillas by Joe Hayes and Antonio Castro Lopez- has a short version of the La Llorona story as well as a sighting story. Cinco Puntos Publishing also puts out The Legend of La Llorona, an illustrated solo book of the story and Two Scary Folktales: La Llorona vs El Cucuy on Audio CD.

The Tale of La Llorona by Linda Lowery, Richard Keep, and Janice Lee Porter- from a leveled reading series called On My Own Folklore – Lexile Level is 460.

Maya’s Children: The Story of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya and Maria Baca.

My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande by Rudolfo Anaya and Amy Cordova- anthology that includes a version called Lupe and La Llorona.

Mexican Ghost Tales of the Southwest: Stories and Illustrations by Alfred Avila and Kat Avila. This version has La Llorona offing her kids because they keep asking for food…

Little Herman Meets La Llorona by Judith S. Beatty, Edward G. Kraul, and Jose Gomez.

La Llorona: Encounters With the Weeping Woman by Judith S. Beatty

Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys by Xavier Garza – Has two La Llorona stories – one a legend and one a sighting.


6 responses »

  1. Dear Celeste,

    Thank you for these La Llorona resources. I once spent a lot of money to acquire Anaya’s out-of-print The Legend of La Llorona to read to my students…. I’m about to start a digital story project with one of my classes to present variants of the legend, and these resources will help so much. I looked at some of your other blogs, including the religious pageant/peeps idea! You must be an amazing teacher….
    Best wishes and thanks again,


  2. Your description of one of the La Llorona stories in my dad’s Mexican Ghost Tales of the Southwest book made me smile wryly. And I wondered if the thought ever crossed my grandma’s mind. There is some irony that you can be an American farmworker (he picked crops as a youngster) and still be so hungry that years later you would remember a single meal offered by a stranger’s family.

  3. Pingback: Honk If You’ve Seen La Llorona… « Maison Celeste

  4. I haven’t read all of the resources you mention here, but since you have, are there any books where they mention the *TRUE* mexican llorona tale, that happened in Mexico City at the time of the Spanish Conquest (la conquista) where everything happened in Rio Mixcoac and they also say she was The Malinche (Hernan Cortes’ woman) ?

    thanks a lot!

  5. My name is Paulette Atencio. I have been working as a professional storyteller for 26 years. My services have been very well received throughout the United States, Mexico, Central America and Europe. I was so happy to find out that you have done lessons regarding “La Llorona”. Keep up the good work. I am also a published author of two bilingual books. Cuentos From My Childhood and Cuentos From Long Ago. Please let me know if I can be of service or visit your school in the near future. I belong to the New Mexico Council on the Arts. This program will allow me to visit schools, libraries, etc. throughout New Mexico. The cost to your school would be $50.oo and the program pays for everything else. It would be an honor to visit your community/school. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your efforts in educating our students on “culture” using “cuentos”.
    Paulette Atencio

  6. Pingback: All the Books… | Maison Celeste

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