Every year between September 15 and October 15, Americans across the United States celebrate National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month in honor of the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and/or South America. Originally designated as “Hispanic Heritage Week” by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, the 30-day period that is celebrated today was signed into U.S. law as a joint resolution by President Ronald Reagan and Congress in 1988.
So why does the celebration kick off in the middle of September? Well, September 15 was selected as the first day in symbolic recognition of the Independence Days for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as Mexico (September 16) and Chile (September 18).
Over the next month, many public schools throughout the City will commemorate National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month with school events, afterschool activities, and parent nights that are fun, informative, and educational for students and their families. To find out whether a particular school is celebrating Latinidad this month, contact the school’s parent coordinator or main office for more information.
With that said, you can also celebrate and learn about Latino American achievements and cultures outside of our schools, too! Check out the following list of books, websites, and events for ideas and activities that you and your families can utilize and participate in this month and throughout the year!
- The Dog Who Loved Tortillas by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
- Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood
- The Great and Mighty Nikko by Xavier Garza
- How Will I Talk to Abuela? by María de la Luz Reyes
- It Starts with a Raindrop/Comienza con una gota de lluvia by Michael Smith
- Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina
- Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Book 2 – Lowriders in Space) by Cathy Camper
- Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
- Margarito’s Forest by Andy Carter
- My Tata’s Remedies/Los remedios de mi Tata by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
- The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh
- The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories/La señora asno se enfrenta a la llorona y otros cuentos by Xavier Garza
- Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle
- Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose
- Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club by Xavier Garza
- The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz
- Pickle: The Formerly Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker
- The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
- Return Fire (Moving Target, Book 2) by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
- The Smoking Mirror (Garza Twins-Book 1) by David Bowles
- Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta
- Until I Find Julian by Patricia Reilly Giff
High School Grades
- The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
- Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle
- The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers
- The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes by Jorge Posada
- Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas) by Zoraida Cordova
- Mi Barrio by Corey Michael Blake, illustrated by Shane Clester
- Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
- Night at the Fiestas: Stories by Kirstin Valdez
- Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
- The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
- The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Official National Hispanic Heritage Month website is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and other government agencies to celebrate Latino American/Hispanic/Pre-Columbian cultures. The site provides digital collections and exhibitions, event listings, and helpful resources, including links to the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives’ Hispanic Heritage Month-themed Pinterest boards.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Education webpage provides links to the Smithsonian’s various Hispanic/Latino heritage-related digital resources in one place. The page, which was created with educators in mind, contains links to interdisciplinary lesson plans, videos, posters, and interactive websites regarding various Hispanic/Latino American experiences. The resources on the page, much of which can also be used by students as well as parents who are seeking to provide supplemental home instruction to their children, is appropriate for students of all ages, unless otherwise noted.
Time for Kids has a great, kid-friendly Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month-themed website for elementary and middle school students containing news stories and facts regarding Hispanic/Latin cultures and people.
PBS has a great webpage dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month. In addition to containing links to all episodes of PBS’ acclaimed 2013 documentary series, “The Latino Americans,” the page also contains links to articles, photo albums, and videos regarding a wide range of Hispanic/Latino personalities and experiences. The materials available on this website can be appropriate for both younger and older students.
The National Archives has a vast online collection of primary source documents available (i.e. maps, historical images, written documents, etc) that could be used to supplement any instruction regarding the personalities and historical events that played a crucial role in Hispanic/Latino American history. This site is geared for educators, but it may also be used by middle and high school students who are looking to add to their instruction or research.
K-8 teachers, parents, and students alike can use Scholastic’s “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage” webpage for notable biographic and geographic facts concerning Hispanic/Latino American history beginning with Christopher Columbus’ first arrival in the Americas in 1492. Teachers will also find suggested lessons designed for K-8 students on this webpage.
El Barrio Latin Jazz Festival
Friday, September 15, 6 p.m.
Marcus Garvey Park
18 Mt. Morris Park W. in Manhattan
Start off Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month with the right ritmo by celebrating the musical legacy of the legendary Tito Puente. The Mambo Legends Orchestra will be on hand to celebrate El Maestro‘s music by performing a full concert at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater inside Marcus Garvey Park.
To learn more and to register for this festival, visit the event website.
Carnaval de la Cultura
Sunday, September 17, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Junction Blvd., bet. Roosevelt Ave & 37th Ave. in Queens
Cost: Free to enter – Prices for food/items/attractions vary by vendor
Head on over to Corona, Queens with the entire family for a day of Latino music, food, and arts and crafts. Children who attend can look forward to face painting, inflatables, games, and plenty of opportunities to win prizes.
Visit Carnaval de la Cultura’s website for details.
53rd Annual Hispanic Day Parade
Sunday, October 8, 2017, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Parade runs northward on Fifth Avenue
43rd – 69th Streets in Manhattan
Celebrate the last days of Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month by joining approximately a million New Yorkers along Fifth Avenue for a day of dancing, costumes, and floats in honor of the countries and people that make up Latin America.
Hispanic Heritage Dance-Mania
Saturday, October 14, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center
232 West 60th Street in Manhattan
Get into the spirit of the month by enjoying four hours of free dance lessons in the heart of Manhattan. Lessons will be provided for salsa, flamenco, samba, and the Latin hustle.
For more information, visit the NYC Parks Department’s website.
Know about other family-friendly events that are being held to celebrate Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below!