Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th – October 15th, honors the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans with ancestry in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Children’s librarians from the Central Library’s Children’s Center have compiled a list of favorites for children to help you and your children celebrate the month through reading! Here are some highlights:
Niño Wrestles the World, by the ever amazing Yuyi Morales, stars Niño, a little boy playing alone in his room at the beginning of this action-packed picture book told in comic book format. When Niño puts on his Lucha Libre mask, he is transformed into a fearless wrestler, handily challenging and trampling all the great demons of Mexican folklore. But what will happen when his baby sister wakes up from her nap? Perfect pick to share with the preschool to early elementary set!
My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz = Me Llamo Celia : La Vida De Celia Cruz, by Monica Brown, illustrated by Rafael López, is a truly standout picture book biography for the elementary school age. The active narrative and lush, vibrant illustrations depict the life of Cuban singer Celia Cruz, widely known as the “Queen of Salsa.” The narrative begins with Cruz’s childhood in Cuba, where she developed her talent as a singer, follows her fleeing during the Revolution, and ultimately bringing Cuban culture and her love of singing to the U.S., resulting in what the world now knows as salsa.
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. Before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Mendez v. Westminster School District of Orange County (CA) – a landmark 1946 desegregation case brought about by Gonzalo Mendez, whose children, including daughter Sylvia, were banned from the local public school and forced to attend the under-funded “Mexican school.” Named a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner, this is a stellar example of picture book nonfiction.
And in Sylvia & Aki, Conkling fictionally explores Sylvia Mendez’s time spent on a farm leased by her father from Aki’s family, who were forced to move to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona. A Global Reading Challenge favorite for grades 4 and up.
Want to explore more? Check out the Pura Belpré Book Awards, awarded annually to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. You can see a list of past winners, here; and you can read about Pura Belpré’s pioneering work as the first Puerto Rican Children’s Librarian in New York City in the bilingual picture book, The Storyteller’s Candle.
~posted by Deborah and Lauren