Reading is a fantastic way to celebrate and ponder on who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. Books also add valuable insight to help us gain greater understanding of cultures and experiences different from our own. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I have pulled together a new list of books that celebrate Latinx heritage, culture, and identity. For last years list, visit here.
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
When thirteen-year-old Lora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come?
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
From her clothing style to her favorite music to the zines she makes, Malú is a true punk kid. When she moves with her mom to a new city, she finds out that her interests make her a misfit at her new school — but she won’t let that faze her. An inspiring story of a girl fighting for self-expression, and navigating the challenges of making new friends, having parents in different states, and learning to love her heritage and identity.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics features a wide range of lyrical biographies of notable Latinos. With vibrant illustrations and tight free verse, Lopez and Engle profile figures ranging from César Chávez to José Martí, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, and beyond.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
*For Young Adult Audience*
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Your perfect Mexican daughter? That’s not Julia. That was her sister, Olga. But Olga died in a terrible accident, and in the wake of that tragedy Julia’s imperfections are even more magnified, especially where her mother is concerned. As Julia sets out to learn more about the person her seemingly perfect sister really was, she begins to unpack the complexities of family pressure, expectations, cultural identity, stereotypes, and the search for one’s own identity.
*For Young Adult Audience*
Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre
Puerto Rican author Lulu Delacre writes 12 short stories about what it means to be Latinx in the U.S. today. Readers will meet a young girl who spends the day on her father’s burrito truck, two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more. Short stories are often the just-right thing for reluctant readers who have low reading stamina. Plus, I think middle grade readers will appreciate reading stories that reflect their lives, not their parents’ or grandparents’ stories.
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya
This bilingual retelling of the classic fairy tale is spunky, playful, and fun. Featuring gorgeous illustrations inspired by illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal's native Peru and cleverly crafted rhymes from author Susan Middleton Elya, it’s a joy for both the reader and the listener. Don’t be surprised if the kiddos can’t stop talking about la reina, la niña, and that pesky little guisante.
Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
Lucía thinks she has what it takes to be a luchadora (she even has an awesome mask and cape to prove it!), but she starts to doubt herself when she’s told only boys can be luchadores. Then her grandma shares a family secret that inspires Lucía to feel proud of her history and empowered to follow in the steps of the luchadoras before her.