Hispanic Heritage Month is here! From September 15th-October 15th, we honor Hispanic culture and recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.* The timing of this yearly celebration is perfect; within this month, several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of their independence: Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
It’s never too early to teach our children about the richness of our culture or the cultures of our neighbors. I found some stellar children’s book recommendations that celebrate Hispanic heritage in fun and informative ways. This list includes beautiful and informational picture books via the blog Tiny Rotten Peanuts (great blog title, right?!). Nearly all of these fantastic educational tools can be found in our Children’s Room. Some are biographical, like Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (in honor of our first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice), while other fictional books, including Round is a Tortilla, explore Hispanic and Latino culture.
If you’re looking for some adult books, consider adding to your reading list one or more of the selections from this list of 15 Essential Books by Latino Authors in America. I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of a majority of these books. All the more reason to read up! In fact, We the Animals, a novella by Justin Torres that has been described as “lyrical” and “a heart-stopping surge of emotion and language” (Pam Houston, More magazine) piques my interest. Has anyone out there read it?
Cooking, baking and crafting are always fun ways to get in the spirit of any holiday. Lorena Garcia, Aaron Sanchez, and Rick Bayless are just a few of the world-renowned chefs and cookbook authors known for their amazing Latin cuisine. You can also celebrate the “sweetness” of this special month by baking Pan Dulce (Mexican Sweet Bread) or learning how to make paletas (Latin-American ice pops). Lastly, get creative and innovate! You can experiment with Mexican folk art and cut out papels picados, use bread and glue to make Ecuadorian migajòn miniatures and then paint and decorate your creations, or get sentimental and weave Peruvian wave friendship bracelets. If you’re an educator, Scholastic has 24 Great Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month. This includes classroom décor, activities, and suggestions for lesson plans (a few of the crafts I mention above were found via Scholastic, thus proving that we are never too old to be thankful for the existence of Scholastic Books). If you need a little extra manpower for your classroom decorations or personal projects, stop by our Innovation Station and sample some of the crafting and technology equipment we have on hand to take your projects to the next level. Our YA Department has also put together a great drop-in program for teens to stop by and make their own Ojo de Dios.
The diversity of our country is exactly what makes it so beautiful. Holidays like Hispanic Heritage Month remind us that the world is larger than we could ever imagine and infinitely unique in its makeup of citizens. Take these thirty days and whip up a meal you’ve never made, read a book about a culture foreign to your own, or have a solo dance party set to Latin music. Make at least one of these days a celebration of this heritage that is so deeply woven into the fabric of who we are as Americans.
*If you’re confused about the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino (like I was), this Buzzfeed video gives a straightforward explanation that was helpful for me.