Book Corner: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

We are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, a great time to recognize and celebrate the culture, history, and contributions of Hispanic and Latin Americans of today and yesterday.

Latinitas, opens a new window by Juliet Menéndez
Short, snappy, age-appropriate biographies highlight the contributions of 40 women from Latin American countries or of Latin American heritage. From the 1600s to today, these women made significant contributions as political and military leaders, poets, artists, teachers, scientists, and more. The author does a remarkable job of capturing the contributions of each woman in a way that emphasizes how important her actions were, while also explaining the accomplishments in a way that elementary-aged children will understand.

May your Life Be Deliciosa, opens a new window by Michael Genhart and Loris Lora
Every year on Christmas Eve, Rosie, her mamá, tía, sister, and cousins all gather at Abuela’s house to make tamales. There is music, dancing, singing, storytelling, and, of course, cooking and eating. Making tamales is a lot of work, and everyone has a job to do. The children soak and clean the corn husks, and the adults chop ingredients and cook the filling. When Rosie asks where the recipe is, Abuela laughs and says, “it is in my heart.” Abuela shows the family how to make tamales by telling a story with each ingredient and instruction symbolizing an important life lesson: “Like a cornstalk, may you always stand tall and proud.” As she folds the corn husk, she says, “May you always have protection and security.” Through this storytelling and with the help of her family, Rosie stands alongside her family and learns to make tamales, just like Abuela.

¡Vamos!, opens a new window by Raúl the Third
Little Lobo and his friends are each looking for a special book at the library’s annual Libro Love book festival. Señorita Paginas and her team organized the festival, which has something for everyone in the community to enjoy: a costume contest, face painting, authors signing books, and cooking demonstrations. It’s easy for Little Lobo and his friends to get distracted by all the fun activities, especially in the workshop on comic-book making. Eventually, as they wander through the library, they each find the book they are looking for and settle in to read.

Where Are You From?, opens a new window by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim
When a young girl is asked by classmates and adults at school where she’s from, she answers truthfully, “I’m from here.” But that isn’t the answer they are looking for, and they continue to ask, “Where are you really from?” She finds this frustrating, so she asks Abuelo, “Where am I from?” Abuelo tells her about all the beautiful places her ancestors came from: the Pampas, the mountains, and the islands. But in the end, he says, she comes from “the love of all those before us.”

With Lots of Love, opens a new window by Jenny Torres Sanchez, illustrated by André Ceolin
Rocio and her family have moved to the U.S. and there are many things she misses from her “other home” in Central America: her cousins, her neighborhood, and especially Abuela. Rocio thinks longingly of Abuela’s homemade sweet treats, tortillas, and other yummy foods. When the morning of Rocio’s birthday arrives, her family wakes her with a special song, but it is the package from Abuela that makes Rocio leap out of bed. The box contains a handmade piñata, Abuela’s delicious tortillas, and a special photo of Abuela with Rocio’s cousins. With all of these gifts, Rocio feels Abuela’s love sent to her across the miles and it eases her loneliness a little.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.