Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
Here are some of our favorite books for a variety of ages featuring Hispanic and Latinx authors, characters, and stories:
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. For Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, life is an endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, and she tries to rise above the hopelessness. TEEN
In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. A fictional account of the young lives of Mirabal sisters Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, otherwise known in the Dominican Republic as Las Mariposas, describes their suffering and martyrdom in the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship. ADULT
In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende. A minor traffic accident becomes a catalyst for an unexpected bond among a human rights scholar, his Chilean lecturer tenant and an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, who explore firsthand the difficulties of immigrants and refugees in today’s world. ADULT
They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera. In a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, teenagers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day. TEEN
Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina. Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. AGES 9-12
Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. A reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion. ADULT
Chato’s Kitchen, by Gary Soto and Susan Guevara. To get the “ratoncitos,” little mice who have moved into the barrio, to come to his house, Chato the cat prepares all kinds of good food: fajitas, frijoles, salsa, enchiladas, and more. But he is not prepared for the unexpected guest who accompanies the mice. AGES 0-8
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. TEEN
Dancing to “Almendra”, by Mayra Montero. Cuban journalist Joaquin Porrata believes there is a connection between the assassination of Mafia boss Albert Anastasia and a dead hippopotamus in the Havana zoo, and Joaquin finds himself caught up in a fight for control of the lucrative casino operations in pre-Castro Cuba. ADULT
The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea. Across one bittersweet weekend in their San Diego neighborhood, revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of family patriarch Miguel “Big Angel” De La Cruz and his mother, and recounting the many tales that have passed into family lore. ADULT
Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart, by Pat Mora. Doña Flor, a giant lady with a big heart, sets off to protect her neighbors from what they think is a dangerous animal, but soon discovers the tiny secret behind the huge noise. AGES 0-8