There are so many wonderful books to use in your primary classroom during Hispanic Heritage Month that it is hard to select which ones to choose! What a great problem to have!! There is a greater variety of books than ever before… I really believe that we teachers are more aware of the fact that we need to help our student see their identities evident in our classrooms. While Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, I would encourage you to do two things:
1. Use these books in your classroom all year long as you study famous people of Hispanic origin and
2. Share this list with your school media coordinator so they can be added to that collection as well as your own. Now dive into this comprehensive list of biographies!
A Library for Juana
By: Pat Mora Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal This picture book biography introduces Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of Mexico's most beloved scholars and poets. At the age of three, Juana promised her sister's teacher that she was "quiet like a turtle" so that she could stay at the school and learn to read. Later, Juana would become a nun and produce poetry that is learned by children in Mexico today. Handsome, detailed paintings evoke Mexican folk art and tell the story of Juana's life.
Celia Cruz: Queen of Salsa
By: Veronica Chambers Illustrated by: Julie Maren Celia Cruz began singing on the streets of Havana as a child. She grew up to become a legendary singer and lasting influence on salsa. Bright, bold illustrations show us the vibrancy of the music in this handsome picture book biography. Celia Cruz was a favorite of mine growing up, and a perfect biography for Hispanic Heritage month!
Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico's Folkloric Ballet
By: Duncan Tonatiuh The story of Amalia Hernández, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folklórico de México. It is a celebration of Hernández’s life and of the rich history of dance in Mexico.
Galápagos Girl / Galapagueña
By: Marsha Diane Arnold Illustrated by: Angela Domínguez As a Galápagueña, Valentina spends her days observing the natural world around her. This bilingual story was inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family was one of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galápagos. Valentina is now a biologist and naturalist guide who has dedicated her life to the conservation of the islands.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
By: Kathleen Krull Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales As a young boy, Cesar Chavez grew up on an 80-acre ranch in Arizona during joyous family reunions. When his family had to leave Arizona, however, to work as migrant laborers in California, their lives were turned upside down. During these excruciating days and nights, Cesar struggled — but then found the resolve to one day help his fellow workers. Yuyi Morales brings Cesar's childhood and early days as an organizer to life with stunning illustrations.
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina
By: Monica Brown Illustrated by: Sara Palacios Meet Marisol McDonald, a spunky young girl with fiery red hair and brown skin who wears green polka dots with purple stripes, mixes English and Spanish, and eats peanut butter and jelly burritos. Everyone tells her she doesn't match, until one day she tries matching — and discovers that it makes her miserable. At the end of the day, however, her teacher shares a special secret with her and lets her know she likes Marisol for who she is: a creative, bilingual Peruvian- Scottish-American! This poignant story, based on Monica Brown's childhood, celebrates everyone’s uniqueness, and reminds children that it is ok not to fit into boxes that other people may put you into. Bilingual text.
Pelé: King of Soccer / Pele, El rey del futbol
By: Monica Brown Illustrated by: Rudy Gutiérrez Did you know that as a boy, Pelé played soccer in bare feet with a grapefruit instead of a soccer ball? Monica Brown shares the inspirational story of the beloved soccer star's rise from humble beginnings to becoming El rey del fútbol. Rudy Gutiérrez's brilliant and fluid illustrations of Pelé and "the beautiful game" of soccer leap off the page. This book has bilingual text and will capture the attention of children who play soccer.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
By: Duncan Tonatiuh 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents acted by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a successful lawsuit in federal court..
Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and César Chávez/Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chávez
By: Monica Brown Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda Many years ago in California, an energetic young Girl Scout named Dolores worked to raise money for soldiers fighting in World War II. A thoughtful young boy named Cesar worked in the fields to help his family put food on the table. As young adults, these two extraordinary individuals would meet and spend the rest of their lives working tirelessly on behalf of migrant workers and children through nonviolent struggle — side by side. Monica Brown and Joe Cepeda bring the story of Dolores and Cesar to life through this vibrant bilingual book, which will make an excellent addition to units on migrant farmworkers, civil rights, or women's history.
The Piñata Maker
By: George Ancona Fiestas often involve puppets, masks, and piñatas. Meet Tío Rico, the elderly piñata maker in a Mexican town, whose artful creations are shown from start to finish in this handsomely photographed book. The text is in both Spanish and English.
Turning Pages: My Life Story
By: Sonia Sotomayor Illustrated by: Lulu Delacre Books and reading can be “magic potions that could fuel [young people] with the bravery of superheroes” and so much more. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shares her story revealing the power of books throughout. The illustrations enhance the rich language and emotions, supported by extra pages with period photographs of Sotomayor’s life and career.
Waiting for the Biblioburro
By: Monica Brown Illustrated by: John Parra Meet Ana, a young girl who loves to read. There aren't many books in her small Colombian village, though — until the day Ana meets the Biblioburro, a librarian who brings books through the mountains on the backs of two strong donkeys. Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, this story asks readers, "How far would you go for a book?"
Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself
by Margaret Frith, illustrated by Tomie dePaola One of the most illustrious artists of all time, Frida Kahlo was inspired by her homeland of Mexico. In this vibrant addition to the Smart About Art series, Frith introduces young readers to Kahlo's life and work through reproductions of the artist's paintings combined with dePaola's original illustrations - making for an unexpected and joyful celebration of creativity.
This 42 page Hispanic Heritage and Latino Leaders close reading set is loaded with relevant content, written comprehension questions, and so much more! In this resource you will find 13 selections and activities to build your students’ strategy development within the whole gradual release of responsibility model… while tackling relevant Social Studies content!
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