Starting September 15th and running to October 15th, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate and recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans and their culture and recognize their contributions to America. There are so many wonderful Hispanic and Latino authors for the all ages. Here are a few good reads for the school-age group that capture the imagination and invite you into a whole new world.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
When a little girl’s far-away grandmother comes to stay, love and patience transcend language in a tender story written by acclaimed author Meg Medina. Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa “), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfecto idea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.
What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla
Where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly bell and carries a treasure of icy paletas in every color of the sarape . . . As she strolls through her barrio, a young girl introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer’s day–there’s so much to do with a paleta.
Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
A Latina main character, a lovable cast of shelter animals, and a very special friendship give this novel tremendous heart. Gaby Howard loves volunteering at the local animal shelter. She plays with the kittens, helps to obedience train the dogs, and writes adoption advertisements so that the strays who live there can find their forever homes: places where they’ll be loved and cared for, no matter what. Gaby has been feeling like a bit of a stray herself, lately. Her mother has recently been deported to Honduras and Gaby is stuck living with her inattentive dad. She’s confident that her mom will soon come home so that they can adopt Gaby’s favorite shelter cat together, and start getting back to the way things used to be. When the cat’s original owners turn up at the shelter, however, Gaby’s plans for the perfect family seem to fall apart. But she’s determined not to let go of her dream so easily.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.
Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Dávila
Change is in the air. Power outages are increasing, and gas prices are soaring. At first, 12-year-old Luz balks, hardly thrilled by the prospect of actually having to walk to the mall. But Luz doesn’t mope for long. After all, her name — pronounced “loose” — means “light.” Soon, this intelligent and spirited chica begins to understand that she must change with the times. As food prices rise, Luz decides to help create a more self-sustainable community by transforming a run-down city lot into a garden where she and her neighbors can grow their own fruits and vegetables. But when she solicits help from her friends — boy-crazy Anika and computer-whiz Robby — they think she’s a little loco. Luz pedals her idea on the street, but the community is equally dismissive. Can Luz pull off her plan and help change her world alone? This graphic novel is a kid-friendly take on sustainable living in a fossil fuel-dependent world.
For a fun way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, why not have a party? Read some of these stories, play some fun music, and put together this cute, simple piñata – you can fill it with candy, confetti, or whatever you would like. And, of course, have fun!