Thursday, September 15, 2022

13 Great Reads for Hispanic Heritage Month

American Girl: Josefina (secular middle grade)... these books are set in New Mexico in 1824. I like the sweet, age-appropriate dilemmas and the faith + family life in these books but the culture is so rich that it speaks for itself too. We see the culture come alive in food, clothing, speech, day to day tasks, professions, and even holidays. Very well done. I would say that these books are ideal for the 4th through 6th grade crowd.

Chato's Kitchen (secular picture book)... chato the cat lives in a Los Angeles barrio. He invites his new neighbors (a family of mice) to dinner with secret plans of serving them as the main course. Things naturally go awry and this is just a generally fun story. We first encountered it through a Scholastic book DVD in which it is read by Cheech Marin. He has a very distinctive voice and it really brought the story to life.

Echo (secular middle grade)... this is one of my very, very favorite books. This is a World War II story told in three parts. I guess technically four because of the intro and outro. Part one is set in Germany and part two is set in Pennsylvania. Part three is the part that allows this beautiful book a place on this list. Part 3 is set in California and is about a Mexican-American family who agrees to take over the farm of a Japanese-American family while they are in an internment camp. I believe this is the first time I had ever encountered Japanese internment camps in middle grade literature, although I'm sure it exists elsewhere. I love this author and feel like she did such a beautiful job showing this Mexican-American family battling racism in the school system while helping a Japanese-American family battling racism in the form of the World War II spy fear of japanese-americans. I feel like this description is frustrating me though because it breaks this amazing, powerful book down into such a small portion of it. Just read it! I have recommended it to so many people and everyone who has read it has said it was wonderful. I've also enjoyed the music-filled audio book version. 

Esperanza Rising (secular middle grade)... this depression-era book is by the same author as Echo and I loved it as a kid. Esperanza and her mother have to flee their home in the dark of the night and start life over in a lower station than they previously lived in. Esperanza learns so much in this book and so do we. This author is a master storyteller I cannot recommend enough.

I Love Saturdays y Domingos (secular picture book)... this is a really fun look at bicultural families. This picture book is about a little boy who loves to visit his white, English speaking grandparents on Saturdays and his Spanish speaking grandparents on Domingos (Sundays). This is a very well done story that shows the cultural differences and similarities all tied in a neat little bow about family love.

Juana and Lucas (secular chapter book)... I have only read the first two books of these series and I thought they were fun and cute. I believe there were one or two things I didn't adore but that overall these are clean, wholesome, and fun. These ones are set in Bogota, Colombia and are so filled with fun culture details. 

Mango, Abuela, and Me (secular picture book)... when abuela comes to live with the family, everything changes! Abuela only speaks Spanish so Bridges must be gapped and this story just shows such a beautiful example of love knowing no limits.

Marisol MacDonald Doesn't Match (secular picture book)... Marisol MacDonald is Scottish and Peruvian. This one is another fun look at bicultural families as we see marisol's mixing of her two cultures in such a fun way. This is also a really great look at the fact that each one of us is a unique individual and that being true to who we are is beautiful.

Sisters in Time: Rosa Takes a Chance (Christian middle grade)... this Christian historical fiction series is full of standalone books about different girls set in different time. I have not read all of them and have not approved of every one of them but I did read and love this one. Rosa takes a chance felt a lot like a mixture of Esperanza Rising and Echo from above as it sort of deals with both themes. This one is set during the Dust Bowl and is about a family trying to figure out how to handle that situation as well as an issue of segregation in schools.

Standing Together (Christian nonfiction)... this Christian nonfiction is a memoir about faith and how faith got this couple through the very trying time of Carlos losing his limbs after stepping on an IED and of Rosemarie's determination to be the wife he needed to get through that trying time. The couple is from Puerto Rico and we see bits and pieces of that shine through throughout this memoir. This is not specifically a culture-focused memoir but because their cultural heritage is so strong I felt like it still deserved a spot on this list.

Tacos for Two (contemporary Christian romance)... this contemporary Christian romance tale is one I really enjoyed because of its fun You've Got Mail vibes. Our main heroine is biracial and is I believe half or one quarter Mexican. She owns a Tex-Mex food truck in Texas and we see a lot of food culture here. Plus, it's just a really fun read! 

The Three Little Tamales (secular picture book)... this fun picture book is essentially The Three Little Pigs but instead of pigs we are dealing with tamales. This one is set in Texas so we are looking at Tex Mex foodie culture and it's just a generally fun read since we love factured fairy tales. And tamales 😉

Waiting for the Biblioburro (secular picture book)... I really love books about mobile libraries in their various forms and adored this book set in Columbia. This is a fictionalized account of Luis Soriano and his biblio burro, a donkey he used to transport a small mobile library to rural areas. We read this book multiple times when we borrowed it from the library.

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