Spanish Teacher Must See Movie for 2014: Book of Life

This weekend was my first weekend that I didn’t have to return to school after.  Yippeee!  I celebrated by going out to eat with friends, a little shopping, fulfilling my Pinterest crafting addiction, and by going to see Maleficent in theaters.  I really enjoyed Maleficient – one of the few films about the villain’s side that I can appreciate.

However, what I loved even more than Maleficent was the preview for the movie Book of Life!   Here’s my basic, watered down summary: two boys fall in love with one girl, spirits get involved, and then one man is forced to prove his love for the girl by completing a series of tasks.


I anticipate this film (out October 2014) being the Spanish teacher’s equivalent of Frozen. The preview begins by making references to the Book of Life (a real thing!) and then continues by saying that “the greatest story begins on the Day of the Dead.” It mentions how the spirits come back to Earth, it includes La Calavera Catrina (La Muerte), Bullfighting, and Tenochtitlan (currently where México City sits). Did I also mention the gorgeous Mayan-inspired artwork in the film?

Here are some things you can pull out for your class:


– La Calavera Catrina/La Muerte

– Papel Picado

– Sugar Skulls (& skulls in general for that matter!)

– Churros

– Cemetery with relation to Day of the Dead

– Mayan Designs/Art

– Tenochtitlan (or current day Mexico City)

– Xibalba (name of the Mayan underworld, but used as a character in the film)

How will I be using this film?  I will use this movie with a Movie Talk (see Martina Bex’s info on Movie Talk here) using one of the commercials as they come out and then I want to focus on the Mayan aspects.  I have previously shied away from teaching about Mayan or Aztecs because I feel like I know so little about them; however, recently I realized the value in making culture the heart of a unit with my bullfighting unit (which going into I did not know very much about).  After seven days of actively trying to NOT think about teaching, this movie preview has filled my head with lesson plan possibilities!

PS: This movie would make a great addition to Mira Canion’s Tumba novel!


UPDATE #1 on March 31, 2015: If you are looking for a viewing guide or questions that could be left for a sub with this movie, check out Kara Jacob’s blog post: El Libro de la Vida! Thanks for sharing, Kara!

UPDATE #2 on July 22, 2015: Allison Wienhold over at has made a novice version of Kara Jacob’s viewing guide mentioned above.  Thanks for sharing, Allison!

8 thoughts on “Spanish Teacher Must See Movie for 2014: Book of Life

  1. Haha, I saw that preview, too, and thought it looked awesome! Can’t wait to see it…and then think of how to use it in my class!

  2. Now I have to see this movie! I will be teaching Tumba for the first time too, so maybe I will use a trailer to MovieTalk! Thanks for the idea!

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