Focus on Stories for Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Picture books and creative writing add focus for all concerned. Here’s a round-up from Read Brightly of 15 picture books to celebrate the theme. The books include contemporary stories from around the Americas, folktales and even introductions to Frida Kahlo and Selena Quintanilla!

While I personally am not a Latinx author, I take a keen interest in Spanish language, Mexican culture, and Latin jazz. Books of mine that tie in with Hispanic Heritage Month include The Moon Was at a Fiesta, La Luna se fue de fiesta and Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga.

Writing to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Reading throughout the year, of course, is a worthy means to celebrate Hispanic Heritage. I try to impress upon students that their own creative writing is, too. When visiting schools, I encourage students to write about themselves: their lives, their families, their hopes and dream. I consider this message especially important for students in less integrated communities (read 99% Mexican-American).

Migrant students I’ve worked with in California, for example, sometimes live in such homogeneous communities that they may not realize how interesting their lives are to others. I ask them to imagine meeting people from different backgrounds, other young people from, say, Massachusetts or Maine. Young people from the Northeast won’t likely know about picking oranges por contrato, (as opposed to getting paid by the hour), though they may have heard of similar arrangements picking blueberries. (Connections! Common ground!)

Most young Americans don’t migrate to different regions, or return to small town in Mexico around Christmas. Not all young Americans experience caring for younger siblings–or living with grandparents who speak a language other than English.

Helping Students See Their Experiences as Interesting

In my workshops, I want students to see their experiences as interesting. Their lives, their voices and particular circumstances matter. When Hispanic, or Latinx, students, or anyone else shares their story, they’re enriching and helping readers understand the wider world.

Opening Up the World with Books

Ready to talk to kids about how books can open their world? I just recorded a short musical video in English and Spanish for the Children’s Book Project. The video starts and finishes with drum rhythms and plugs the benefits of learning a second language. (If your children / students are anything like my young nephews, they will enjoy permission to wiggle during the drumming!) Click here to watch and shimmy your shoulders.

Here’s wishing you an Hispanic Heritage Month of reading, writing and affirming a vital part of our social fabric.

Incidentally, the Children’s Book Project in San Francisco is a terrific organization that distributes books to disadvantaged families throughout the Bay Area and beyond! Find out more at