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From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States each year. This tradition began in 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson first issued a proclamation to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Week. Later, Congress passed a bill to extend the celebration to last an entire month, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, and National Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated every year since 1989. The theme for 2022 is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,” which recognizes the diversity within the Hispanic community and encourages all voices to be recognized.
The dates for Hispanic Heritage Month were chosen to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of many Latin American nations — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — that declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Chile, Mexico, and Belize also each have their own Independence Day celebrations on days throughout the month as well.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to our nation, and especially to New York City, over the years. We also take this time to recognize the trailblazing individuals who fought for progress and equity for their communities. We encourage teachers, students, and families to explore the resources shared below to further expand their understanding of this rich and vibrant history.
The following book suggestions, listed by grade level, are a collection of new and classic titles about Hispanic and Latino history, individuals, and experiences that families and educators can read with their students in grades 3-K through 12 both during Hispanic Heritage Month and all year round. We hope you will enjoy and learn from these outstanding titles, which cover a range of cultural backgrounds, fiction and nonfiction genres, and unique perspectives.
Early Readers (Grade 3K–2):
- If Your Babysitter is a Bruja written by Ana Siqueira and illustrated by Irena Freitas
- Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
- Mango, Abuela, and Me written by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
- Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez
- One of a Kind, Like Me written by Laurin Mayeno and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo
- Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar
- The Cot in the Living Room written by Hilda Eunice Burgos and illustrated by Gaby D'Alessandro
- Turning Pages: My Life Story written by Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Lulu Delacre
- Where Are You From? Yamile Saied Méndez and illustrated by Jamie Kim
- Yo Soy Muslim written by Mark Gonzales and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Elementary (Grade 3–5):
- Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas
- Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
- Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
- Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos
- Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menendez
- Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes
- Manu by Kelly Fernández
- Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy
- The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Córdova
Middle Grade (Grade 6–8):
- Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
- Coming Up Cuban by Sonia Manzano
- Invisible: A Graphic Novel written by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and illustrated by Gabriela Epstein
- Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
- The Insiders by Mark Oshiro
- The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
- The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
- The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel
- They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poemsby David Bowles
- Tumble by Celia C. Pérez
Young Adult (Grade 9–12):
- Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
- Clap When you Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
- Keeper by Mal Peet
- Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera
- Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- Where I Belong by Marcia Argueta Mickelson
- Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell
- Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Many of these books are readily available via New York’s public libraries, as well as through the Citywide Digital Library available on Sora for our students. Check out the Citywide Digital Library Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month Collection! For even more titles than those listed here, you can check out Sora’s Spanish Language #OwnVoices Reading List.
We also recommend the New York Public Library’s lists of Spanish, English, and bilingual titles to read in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, or Colorín Colorado's Hispanic Heritage Month collection. In addition, you can access poetry written by dozens of Latinx writers from thePoetry Foundation.
Video and Audio Resources
- Hear from notable individuals like award-winning chef Jose Andres, actress and director America Ferrera, and more with 10 great TED Talks by Hispanic and Latinx speakers
- Check out the PBS collection of eight unique documentaries about different Hispanic and Latin American stories from across the country; for even more to watch from PBS, check out their Hispanic Heritage Month page, which has videos about music and culture, history, and even a six-hour documentary series about Hispanic history in the United States, alongside much more
- To learn more about important Latinas in U.S. history, watch videos on figures like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, musician Celia Cruz, labor activist Emma Tennayuca, and suffragette Maria de Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez de Lowther and astronaut Ellen Ochoa from the Smithsonian collection of videos on women’s history
- For more on the intersection between Hispanic Heritage and women’s history, the National Museum of American History has a video series called “Latinas Talk Latinas,” featuring even more discussions about notable Latina women who have had an impact on our country and society
- Latino USA (Futuro Media): the longest-running Latino news and cultural public radio program.
- Radio Ambulante (NPR): a Spanish language podcast that tells stories from all over Latin America
- ¿Quién Are We? (NPR): a new podcast that explores Latino and Hispanic identities
- Planeta G (Greenpeace): learn more about the intersection between Latinx identity and environmentalism
- “Yes She Did!” - (Smithsonian): In this episode, of the Portraits podcast, hear an interview with labor activist Dolores Huerta and learn about her life and legacy
- “The Goddess of Broadway” - (Smithsonian/PRX): Learn about the first ever Puerto Rican performer on Broadway, Diosa Costello, in this episode of the Sidedoor podcast.
Events and Exhibitions
- Throughout the month: Check out the New York Public Library’s list of Hispanic Heritage Month events, which includes activities for children of all ages such as bilingual story times, a teen book club, arts and crafts nights, and more
- Tuesday, September 13: Join Smithsonian historians for “Understanding Sylvia Rivera,” a free, virtual event about the trans Latina activist best known for her role New York City’s Stonewall uprising and fighting for inclusion in the gay pride movement. (5-6 PM)
- Sunday, September 25: Historic Richmond Town celebrates the diverse history of Staten Islanders and pays tribute to generations of Hispanic Americans that contributed to the borough and beyond during their National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, which will feature cooking demonstrations, dance performances, and more. (12-4 PM)
- Saturday, October 1: Join the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education for Afro-Latinidad: a musical celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (1-6:30 PM)
- Sunday, October 2: Ballet Hispánico is hosting their annual A La Calle Block Party, a celebration of Latinx dance, music, art, food, and culture. (12-4 PM)
- Saturday, October 8: Attend the Panamanian Parade, the largest celebration of Panamanian individuals and culture outside of the country itself.
- The National Educator’s Association (NEA) has assembled resources by grade level to us for your Hispanic Heritage Month lessons and celebrations
- Check out the New-York Historical Society’s Nueva York, a curriculum guide dedicated to Hispanic history in the region from 1613-1945
- The Smithsonian Learning Lab has several Hispanic Heritage Month learning resources, including ¡Pleibol! – lessons on the history of Latinos in baseball
- Participate in “Teach Central America” week from October 3-9, 2022
- Embrace this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme of inclusivity by watching the short film “Bibi” along with accompanying learning guides from Learning for Justice on the topic of intersectionality
- El Museo del Barrio has several lesson plans centering on iconic Hispanic and Latinx New Yorkers, including one about a local mural that commemorates the poet and activist Julia de Burgos and another dedicated to the jazz icon Tito Puente
- Access a range of relevant K-12 lesson plans from the National Endowment for the Humanities on history, literature, culture, and more
- For more information about Hispanic and Latino music, the New York Times Learning Network has several lessons on reggaeton, Cuban music, and the musical legend Selena
- Teach about the Young Lords Movement in New York City with materials from the Museum of the City of New York
- Students can learn more about Hispanic Americans in Congress with resources from the U.S. House of Representatives Archives
- Explore a wide range of teaching resources from Facing History & Ourselves about Latinx History, Art, and Culture