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Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15th to October 15th. It begins on the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and 18th. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Hispanic traditions, achievements, and legacies are commemorated. It is also a time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments made by United States citizens with Hispanic origins.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here is a list of novels, children’s books, and poems that showcase the vibrant Hispanic culture.
1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero
Arte Público Press
– The House on Mango Street written by Sandra Cisnero and published in 1984 is a coming of age story about a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in Chicago with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans while she struggles to define herself. Defining oneself in a country where one is a minority can be difficult, and that is why Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and honors those who do.
2. My First Bikini by Elena Medel
– My First Bikini is a collection of poems written by the Spanish Poet Elena Medel and published in Spain in 2001. Medel’s poems give an introspective look at what it means to be a young female exploring her sexuality. Elena Medel wrote many of the poems included in My First Bikini at age 16, and since then she has been awarded the Loewe Young Poets Prize, Spain’s most prestigious award for a poet under 30. She is an inspiration for all, and Hispanic Heritage Month honors empowering young women like her.
3. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alverez
Workman Publishing Company
– This novel by Julia Alverez tells the story of a family who is forced to move to America from the Dominican Republic. Told from the perspective of four sisters- Carla, Sandi, Yolanda and Sofia Garcia, the story illustrates many of the serious issues that Hispanic immigrants face today.
4. The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora
Penguin Young Readers Group
– This children’s book by Pat Mora tells of a young Mexican girl who is proud of her heritage, but she is also struggling to fit in at her new school. This story is pertinent to Hispanic Heritage Month because it shows the importance of celebrating diversity at all ages.
5. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erica L. Sanchez
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
This Latina coming of age story written by Erica L. Sanchez and published in 2017 shows through the main character, Julia, what it means to not meet one’s family’s standards. When Julia is left to piece together her broken family after a tragic accident, she tries to live up to her seemingly saintly sister even though she discovers that her sister may not have been as innocent as she seemed. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates all who have hispanic heritage — not just those who satisfy traditional expectations.
6. The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes and translated by Daniel Alarcon
Penguin Random House
This memoir of Emma Reyes, a Colombian artist, tells of her harrowing childhood and the adversities she overcame to be successful. She grew up with nothing, but because of her incredible imagination and bounding courage, Reyes established a successful career as an artist. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates people like Emma Reyes who accomplished so much even though they may have started with so little.
7. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Doubleday/ Perfection Learning
Like Water for Chocolate, published by Mexican author Laura Esquivel in 1989, is a love story that centers around the kitchen. Tita is forbidden to marry due to a strict tradition, and when she falls in love with Pedro her mother does everything possible to keep them apart. Tita uses cooking as an outlet and literally pours her emotions into every dish. In the end, Tita breaks the oppressive tradition for herself and generations after. This novel is relevant to Hispanic Heritage Month because it illustrates how important tradition, cooking, and family are to Hispanic culture.
By our contributor: Emily Pridgen
CEO & Founder of Babes, Books & Bordeaux || sushi addict || crazy plant lady & dog-mom