Hispanic Heritage Week was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, and was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan twenty years later in 1988. Since then, from September 15 to October 15, we honor and celebrate the extensive contributions of Hispanic Americans to our country.
To begin an exploration of this vibrant, varied culture, go to National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2021. It provides a thorough compendium of events and resources available through museums and arts foundations. My favorite of these is the Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC), which offers virtual tours of DC Latino Street Murals, and an exhibit of Central American ceramics. A perfect accompaniment to these is the Latino playlist created by the Grammy Foundation for Spotify.
But as I enjoy my horchata and churros, I’ll open a book. The San Domenico Library has titles for all ages by Hispanic authors. The Lower School collection includes the Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, Vamos! Let’s go to the Market by Raul The Third, and My Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero. From a girl’s bravery in challenging the Cuban taboo against female drummers, to shopping at a colorful market, ending with an exhilarating ride in a rapidly changing immigrant neighborhood -- there’s an adventure for everyone.
The Middle School collection has serious books describing the immigrant experience. In The Other Half Of Happy, Rebecca Balcarcel explores the inner conflicts a teen faces when learning about her family’s past in Guatemala. In the memoir, My Family Divided, the acclaimed Columbian American actress, Diane Guerrero, recalls her experiences when her family was deported, and at fourteen, she remains in Boston alone. But there’s magic and humor available too. In Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, the author weaves Cuban mythology and culture into his tale of a parallel universe.
Our Upper School collection has books that develop complex Hispanic characters and situations. In Dominicana, Angie Cruz explores a marriage of opportunity propelled by the promise of America. Alan Lawrence Sitomer in his book describes the challenges a first generation immigrant faces in finishing high school, and reaching college, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez. And in They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera creates a dystopian science fiction story about two NYC teens forging a friendship on the day they know to be their last. This LGBTQ story explores love, loss, grief and acceptance, and encourages readers to live their best lives.
A best life-- this is the immigrant’s dream. Our nation is advantaged by it, and by those who dream it. Whatever way you honor Hispanic Heritage Month, may your experience be meaningful, and add understanding of the vast contributions of Hispanic Americans.
Que te vaya bien,
Karlyn Strand, Librarian
SPECIAL PARTNER LINK: Common Sense Media’s Hispanic Heritage Month Resources for Grades K-12.