The time period September 15 to October 15 is dedicated to celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The initiative began in 1968 as a week long observation but was amended by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to span the 30 days. This observance is an opportunity to engage readers of all ages and begin teaching children about one of the most interesting cultures on the planet.
Here are some great books for introducing Latin/Hispanic culture, histories, and people.
- Waiting for the Biblioburro: Esperando para el Biblioburro by Monica Brown. A man with two burros named Alfa and Beto bring books to children in a remote village; One girl is so excited, she decides to write her own book while she’s waiting for the biblioburro to return. This bilingual book is based on the true story of Colombia’s biblioburro.
- Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales depicts the life of talented and unique artist, Frida Kahlo. This book uses little text on each page to give snapshots of Frida’s life- happiness, sadness, laughter, and love all influenced her work.
- Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown. Marisol loves pairing polka dots with stripes and eating peanut butter and jelly burritos. This book celebrates the uniqueness of a soccer-playing pirate-princess with nut brown skin and flame red hair.
- Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez. Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident so his family hires migrant workers to help keep the farm from foreclosure. Tyler befriends Mari and learns her fears of being reported to the authorities and deported back to poverty in Mexico.
- Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina. Mia’s grandmother is moving in with her family but she doesn’t know enough english to talk with Mia. Mia’s español is “too poquito” to tell Abuela the things an abuela should know. One day Mia persuades her mother to buy a parrot just like the ones Abuela left behind in the tropics, with Mango they learn each other’s languages until their mouths are full of things to say.
Check your local public libraries for books relating to Hispanic Heritage Month; biographies specific to individuals, whimsical stories, folklore and myths, as well as contemporary fiction stories that celebrate and recognize the cultural significance of having Latin/ Hispanic ancestry. I leave you with this quote from Sonia Sotomayor- “It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”