Hispanic Heritage Month spans from September 15 to October 15. Just like Black History Month it started off as a week long celebration that was eventually expanded to last 30 days. Of course it is impossible to incorporate all you need to know about Hispanic History in one month but you can use this a starting point in a year long journey to get to know more about a culture that has been here since before this country was founded. Contributions by Hispanics have made the life we live today possible. It is important that we share this knowledge with our children so they can grow up to respect an important part of American History that is often not taught in schools. So I have put together a list of children’s books featuring some of my favorite stories and people.
- My Name Is Celia/ Me Llamo Celia by Monica Brown
When I was little Sesame Street was all the rage and as they do now there were often celebrity guest. My absolute favorite was Celia Cruz. I was too young to understand what made her special but I could feel it in my heart. She was bold, confident, and friendly. But she was also a Black woman who spoke Spanish. Now the term Afro-Cuban (and any other applicable nationality) is a familiar term but back then it was unheard of. She was a pioneer in breaking the color barrier for Hispanics as she embraced the African and Hispanic roots of her culture.
- Danza! Amalia Hernandez and Mexico’s Folkloic Ballet by Duncan Tonatiuh
When it comes to culture it can be hard to overcome the bias imprinted on us by the media, educators and past experiences. Today in America that reality is an everyday fixture in the lives of Hispanic people. I chose this book because Amalia’s story represents what is almost never shared to the mainstream public. It challenges the idea of what most people conjure when they think of the ballet. She used dance as a platform to share indigenous Mexican Culture with the world. Her style of dance crafted a new form of story- telling through movement and music.
- Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter
Because Pittsburgh pride runs deep, my final suggestion is this book. Hispanic history is American History. The saying goes ‘American as apple pie’ and that accurately reflects the life and career of Roberto Clemente. His life encompasses the American experience of battling adversity and racism to become a legend. He is not only inspiring to young athletes, but he sends a message to Brown and Black children that you do not have to be defined by what society thinks of you. And that is definitely worth celebrating.