Every year between September 15 and October 15, Americans across the United States celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in honor of the histories, cultures, and contributions of U.S. families with roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and 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 this celebration kick off in the middle of September? 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).
Many public schools throughout the City will commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month with events, fun activities, and interesting lessons that highlight the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of Hispanic/Latinx people in the US, and it is in this spirit that we have put together the following list of books, events, and resources for families and students in grades 3-K through 12. We hope you enjoy and learn from these outstanding books and resources—let us know in the comments section below if you have any recommendations you’d like to share!
Events for Families
Online Events @ NYPL
Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, the New York Public Library (NYPL) will host over a dozen online events for all ages that honor the cultures, contributions, and experiences of Hispanic/Latinx Americans, including live author talks and panels, book discussions, and Spanish-language classes. From discussions about Hispanic recipes, bilingual storytimes, and writing workshops, to online trivia and panels for budding entrepreneurs, NYPL has a little something for everyone all month long.
For more information, including dates and registration information, visit NYPL’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Events page.
Estamos Bien — La Trienal 20/21
Now through September 26, 2021
El Museo del Barrio’s first national large-scale survey of Latinx contemporary art, Estamos Bien — La Trienal 20/21, features over 40 artists from across the country and Puerto Rico. This exhibition is open until September 26, 2021—reserve your timed ticket and learn more on El Museo de Barrio’s website.
Virtual A La Calle Block Party
October 1, 2021; 7 p.m.—8 p.m.
The nationally-renowned Ballet Hispánico is hosting an all-virtual version of its crowd-pleasing, fourth annual A La Calle Block Party. Airing live on YouTube on October 1, the virtual celebration will feature a mix of Latinx dance, music, art, and culture from company performers, students from the School of Dance, and members of other Latinx dance companies. The event will be available on demand on Ballet Hispánico’s YouTube channel through October 15, 2021.
Booklists for Young Readers
Early Elementary School (Grades 3-K through 2)
- All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez; art by Adriana M. Garcia
- Animal Talk: Mexican Folk Art Animal Sounds in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill; art by Rubi Fuentes and Efrain Broa
- The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha Vamos; art by Rafael López
- Doña Flor by Pat Mora; art by Raúl Colón
- Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
- Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros; art by Terry Ybáñez
- Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina
- Little Chickies/Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo
- Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena; art by Angela Dominguez
- Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown; art by John Parra
Elementary School (Grades 3–5)
- The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads; art by Jean Charlot
- Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh
- Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera
- Play Ball! by Jorge Posada and Robert Burleigh; art by Raúl Colón
- Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by Eric Velasquez
- Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and César Chávez by Monica Brown; art by Joe Cepeda
- Ugly Cat & Pablo by Isabel Quintero; art by Tom Knight
- Uncle Rain Cloud by Tony Johnston; art by Fabricio Vanden Broeck
- Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy; art by David Diaz
- Xochitl and the Flowers by Jorge Tetl Argueta; art by Carl Angel
Middle Grades (Grades 6–8)
- The Composition by Antonio Skarmeta; art by Alfonso Ruano
- Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle; art by Edel Rodriguez
- Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
- Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle
- I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín; art by Lee White
- Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
- Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
- My Name is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez by Monica Brown; art by Raúl Colón
- Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
- Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
High School (Grades 9–12)
- Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
- Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
- The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
- Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
- Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
- Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
- Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario
- Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler
- When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
- The DOE’s National Hispanic Heritage Month WeTeachNYC page contains outstanding resources that can be used by K–12 teachers, families, and students inside or outside the classroom. Resources include lesson plans, digital exhibitions, timelines, and key primary sources.
- The Official National Hispanic Heritage Month website is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and other U.S. 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.
- Google Arts & Culture’s Latino Cultures in the US platform is a robust family, student, and teacher-friendly website that provides users with access to high-resolution images and videos of Latino art and historical figures. The site also features interviews with Latino celebrities and influencers, and it even provides users with virtual tours of art exhibitions, outdoor murals, and Latino neighborhoods from across the U.S.
- The Smithsonian Latino Center provides links to the Smithsonian’s various Hispanic/Latino heritage-related digital resources. The page contains links to 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 families who are seeking to provide supplemental home instruction to their children, is appropriate for students of all ages, unless otherwise noted.
- The National Archives’ DOCSTeach site 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.
- 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.
- Thanks to the Poetry Foundation, students, teachers, and families can check out the organization’s great collection of outstanding Latino poetry through its U.S. Latinx Voices in Poetry page. The collection is intended to be broad and inclusive, and it features poetry from writers like Julia Alvarez, Harry Gamboa, Jr., and Carmen Tafolla, among many others.
- K-8 teachers, parents, and students alike can use Scholastic’s “Bring Hispanic Heritage Month to Life” webpage for notable resources designed for K-8 students, including discussion guides, writing activities, and lesson plans.
Know other family-friendly resources and events that could be used to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below!
On behalf of the DOE, we wish everyone an illuminating and inspiring Hispanic Heritage Month.
Banner photo, “Three Men Playing Musical Instruments,” by Dimitri Dim. Used under Creative Commons license. Original photo can be found on Pexels.
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