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 2023 is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We are One,” which reinforces the diversity inherent within the Hispanic community, as well as the power that comes from being a united community.
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. All in all, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates communities with roots in 20 Latin American countries and territories who make up over 19% of the U.S. population.
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 (Grades 3K–2):
- The Cot in the Living Room, by Hilda Eunice Burgos; illustrated by Gaby D'Alessandro
- Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael López
- Gustavo, the Shy Ghost, by Flavia Z. Drago
- If Your Babysitter is a Bruja, by Ana Siqueira; illustrated by Irena Freitas
- Lucía the Luchadora,by Cynthia Leonor Garza; illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
- Mango, Abuela, and Me, by Meg Medina; illustrated by Angela Dominguez
- Octopus Stew, by Eric Velasquez
- One of a Kind, Like Me, by Laurin Mayeno; illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo
- Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, by Monica Brown; illustrated by Julie Paschkis
- Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Paola Escobar
- Plátanos are Love, by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris; illustrated by Mariyah Rahman
- Turning Pages: My Life Story, by Sonia Sotomayor; illustrated by Lulu Delacre
- Where Are You From?, by Yamile Saied Méndez; illustrated by Jamie Kim
Elementary (Grades 3–5):
- The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa, by Julia Finley Mosca; illustrated by Daniel Ripley
- Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk, by Jorge Argueta; illustrated by Manuel Monroy
- Cuba in My Pocket, by Adrianna Cuevas
- Efrén Divided, by Ernesto Cisneros
- Ghost Squad, by Claribel A. Ortega
- How to Hear the Universe: Gaby González and the Search for Einstein's Ripples in Space-Time, by Patricia Valdez; illustrated by Sara Palacios
- Isla to Island, by Alexis Castellanos
- Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers, by Juliet Menendez
- Lety Out Loud, by Angela Cervantes
- Manu, by Kelly Fernández
- Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, by Tehlor Kay Mejia
- Silver Meadows Summer, by Emma Otheguy
- The Way to Rio Luna, by Zoraida Córdova
Middle Grade (Grades 6–8):
- Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez
- The Distance Between Us (Young Readers Edition), by Reyna Grande
- Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
- Frizzy, by Claribel A. Ortega
- The Insiders, by Mark Oshiro
- Invisible: A Graphic Novel, written by Christina Diaz Gonzalez; illustrated by Gabriela Epstein
- Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, by Pablo Cartaya
- Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo
- The Moon Within, by Aida Salazar
- The Other Half of Happy, by Rebecca Balcárcel
- The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, by Sonia Manzano
- They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems, by David Bowles
- Tumble, by Celia C. Pérez
Young Adult (Grades 9–12):
- Breathe and Count Back from Ten, by Natalia Sylvester
- Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas
- Clap When you Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo
- The Grief Keeper, by Alexandra Villasante
- The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
- Keeper, by Mal Peet
- Lobizona, by Romina Garber
- Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera
- Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms and Space, edited by Zoraida Córdova
- When We Make It, by Elisabet Velasquez
- 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 Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month Sora Collection for even more book recommendations, in addition to the Spanish Language #OwnVoices and Hidden Voices: Latino Americans.
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 the Poetry Foundation.
Video and Audio Resources
- Hear from notable individuals like award-winning chef José Andrés, 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 profiles of Hispanic American heroes.
- 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 Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez.
- 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
Events and Exhibitions
- Throughout the month:
- Sunday, September 17, 2023: Join in a day of fun for the whole family at the Carnaval Cultura Latina in Queens, which promotes the art, music, dance, and great food from Latino cultures.
- Monday, October 2 – Friday, October 6, 2023: Educators can participate in the fourth annual “Teach Central America” week, an initiative that encourages teaching about Central American history and culture in the classroom.
- Saturday, October 7, 2023: Attend the Panamanian Parade in Brooklyn, and be a part of the largest celebration of Panamanian individuals and culture outside of the country itself (12PM).
- Sunday, October 15, 2023: Ballet Hispanico is hosting Celebración Latina, a community celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month where there will be live music, dancing, food for local vendors, and more! Family members of all ages can attend from 1–5PM.
- The National Educator’s Association (NEA) has assembled resources by grade level to use 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 our region from 1613–1945.
- There are a number of useful resources from the Smithsonian and the National Museum of American History, including:
- Teaching for Change, who host Teach Central America Week, have provided resources to use in the classroom during their initiative, and beyond.
- Explore digital teaching and learning resources from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.
- Also from Learning for Justice, learn about the how the history of school segregation impacted Latino communities in the United States by exploring primary sources from the seminal Supreme Court case Mendez v. Westminster School District, often considered a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, with their toolkit called “Why Mendez Still Matters.”
- Students can further engage with the Mendez case with a reenactment activity available on the United States Federal Courts’ website.
- Access a range of relevant K–12 lesson plans from the National Endowment for the Humanities on history, literature, culture, and more.
- PBS invites teachers and students of all grade levels to explore the history, people and issues chronicled in their series, Latino Americans, through a collection of lesson plans, videos and classroom resources based on the documentary.
- Embrace this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme by watching the short film “Bibi” alongside the accompanying learning guides from Learning for Justice on the topic of intersectionality.
- Explore a wide range of teaching resources from Facing History & Ourselves about Latinx history, art, and culture.
- 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.
- El Museo del Barrio has several resource guides available for educators to use, in addition to video and audio resources available on their website.
- The National Park Service’s American Latino Heritage Theme Study, available in both Spanish and English, explores Latino history and culture with essays and other resources that reflect Latino American experiences across different eras, topics, and regions throughout the United States. For more NPS resources, check out their Hispanic Heritage Month page, along with Telling All Americans’ Stories: American Latino Heritage, also available on their website.
- Students can learn more about Hispanic Americans in Congress with resources from the U.S. House of Representatives Archives.
- Students can access National Archives records related to Hispanic and Latino Heritage online to research a wide range of topics with primary sources.