We’re right in the middle of Hispanic Heritage month that runs this year from September 15 to October 15. As you might know, during this month we honor and recognize the achievements and contributions Hispanic and Latinx peoples have made in the United States and around the world.
Many of us have experienced Latino cultures through music, food, and dance, but may not know about contributions also being made in science, art, economics, politics, and other fields. This month provides an opportunity to increase our understanding.
In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson established Hispanic Heritage Week, and then, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the celebration to an entire month. Why does it start on September 15? This time period was chosen because there are several Latin American independence days celebrated during that time period.*
One of the easiest and perhaps most meaningful ways families can observe Hispanic Heritage Month is with storytelling – through books and videos.
The Imagination Library has provided several books in Spanish and English over the years but only a few with Hispanic or Latinx characters. Here are recent selections:
Best Beginnings Early Literacy Director Stephanie Schott recommends two of her current favorite picture book authors/illustrators, Juana Martinez-Neal (Peru) and Yuyi Morales (Mexico). Stephanie also likes “Looking for Bongo” by Eric Velasquez because it features black Latinx characters, still a pretty rare example of representation.
More award-winning books can be found here: American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
Picture books celebrating Hispanic heritage can be found at PBS Parents.
For a change of pace, join the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration on Sesame Street! Or check out the new animated show from PBS Kids, Alma’s Way, premiering on October 4. Alma’s Way centers on 6-year-old Alma Rivera, a proud, confident Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her family among a diverse group of close-knit friends and community members.
At the end of the month, consider helping your child make their own book about what they learned while celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month – add what you learned, too!
*Independence Day Celebrations:
September 15th – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
September 16th – Mexico
September 17th – Chile