Hispanic Heritage month, running from September 15 to October 15, is an annual celebration of the rich cultures and traditions of people living in the United States who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. There has been a very welcome increase in books written by and for the Latinx community in the past several years, which is helping to fill a long-standing publishing gap. Here are a few of our recent favorites:
In Dreamers author Yuyi Morales recounts her experience moving from Mexico to the United States with her young son. It was on one hand a typical journey as they navigate a new city and learn English, but unusual in that Morales gives equal attention to how being bilingual also shaped and enhanced their creative journey. Mexican motifs and Spanish words are integrated into the inviting pages of this inspirational story. For ages 4-8.
Margarita Engle is well known for her captivating stories and gorgeous prose. In her new work, Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics she focuses on the lives of eighteen Hispanic and Latinx people, ranging from famous to less well-known, all of whom have overcome significant challenges with creativity and aplomb. This is filled with gorgeous, bold illustrations in a variety of styles and formats. For grades 4-7.
The First Rule of Punk by debut author Celia Pérez has received plenty of accolades for its deft examinations of the intersections of race and culture, illustrating both the frustrations and opportunities those identities can provide. Twelve-year-old Malú has moved to Chicago after her parent’s divorce and is struggling with her mother’s more traditional expectations, but Malú’s love of punk rock offers both an outlet and a means of creative expression of identity. For grades 3-7
Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X is another coming of age novel, this one centering on a young woman growing up in Harlem. Navigating the world has become exponentially more difficult now that Xiomara has a woman’s body, but even though her physical self has gained attention the rest of her goes unnoticed. Xiomara has plenty to say, though, and an invite to the school’s poetry slam allows her to kick open a door she never knew existed. Told in verse, this is a raw and intimate portrait of a young woman finding the courage to use her voice and make herself heard. Grades 9 and up.
If you have not had the pleasure of reading Benjamin Alire Saenz, you are missing one of the most beautiful voices in YA literature, In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two Mexican-American teenagers meet, become friends, and wrestle with expectations of culture and identity. With a gorgeous, literary narrative and richly drawn characters, this is the kind of coming of age story that captures everything about growing up and discovering who you are. Grades 9 and up.
Looking for more titles featuring Hispanic and Latinx youth? Click here for a list of books for children, and here for young adult titles. Need even more ideas? The Pura Belpré Award is presented annually by the American Library Association to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
~Posted by Summer H. and Lauren M.