From September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage month, celebrating the richness and diversity of those who have roots in Spanish-speaking countries and cultures. And that richness and diversity is woven into the fabric of the stories that Hispanic authors write. So one must ask, what better way to embrace Hispanic Heritage Month than picking up a book and diving into the worlds created by Hispanic authors?
Get started with some of these:
- A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord (YA F Lord)
When Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it’s Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.
After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily’s grandfather, and Salma’s friendship transforms Lily’s summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they’ll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging.
- Sal & Gabi Break the Universeby Carlos Hernandez (YA F Hernandez)
How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?
When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
- The Firefly Lettersby Margarita Engle (YA F Engle)
The freedom to roam is something that women and girls in Cuba do not have. Yet when Fredrika Bremer visits from Sweden in 1851 to learn about the people of this magical island, she is accompanied by Cecilia, a young slave who longs for her lost home in Africa. Soon Elena, the wealthy daughter of the house, sneaks out to join them. As the three women explore the lush countryside, they form a bond that breaks the barriers of language and culture. In this quietly powerful new book, award-winning poet Margarita Engle paints a portrait of early women’s rights pioneer Fredrika Bremer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life.
- Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Wordsby Margarita Engle (YA F Engle)
Asia, Africa, Europe–Antonio Chuffat’s ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans in the nineteenth century, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and nearly-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields.
So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that violence will not be the only way to gain liberty.
- Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cubaby Margarita Engle (YA F Engle)
Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away . . .
- Ask My Mood Ring How I Feelby Diana Lopez (YA F Lopez)
It’s summer before eighth grade, and Erica “Chia” Montenegro is feeling so many things that she needs a mood ring to keep track of her emotions. She’s happy when she hangs out with her best friends, the Robins. She’s jealous that her genius little sister skipped two grades. And she’s passionate about the crushes on her Boyfriend Wish list. And when Erica’s mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, she feels worried and doesn’t know what she can do to help.
When her family visits a “cuarto de milagros,” a miracle room in a famous church, Erica decides to make a “promesa” to God in exchange for her mom’s health. As her mom gets sicker, Erica quickly learns that juggling family, friends, school, and fulfilling a “promesa “is stressful, but with a little bit of hope and a lot of love, she just might be able to figure it out.
- Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (YA F Toro)
Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke have come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with haunting illustrations and enchanting short stories that flesh out the folklore of this fascinating world.
This spellbinding tale takes readers to a sinister, magical, and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.
- Wonderby R.J. Palacio (YA F Palacio)
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid– but his classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon many perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
- Esperanza Risingby Pam Munoz Ryan (YA F Ryan)
Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, & servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life and her own depend on it.
- Dead End in Norveltby Jack Gantos (YA F Gantos)
A novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore of typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.
- Merci Suarez Changes Gearsby Meg Medina (YA F Medina)
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.
- Refugeeby Alan Gratz (YA F Gratz)
Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence and destruction, embark on harrowing journeys in search of refuge, discovering shocking connections that tie their stories together.
- Voces Sin Fronteras: Our Stories, Our Truth; True Comics from the Latin American Youth Center (YA Graphic 325.73 Voces)
During a time of heated immigration debate and unrest, this book is an opportunity to hear directly from youth who are often in the headlines but whose stories don’t get told in full. Sixteen young people from the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) in Washington, D.C. came together to tell their own stories of immigration and transformation in comics form. The result is this side-by-side bilingual collection of graphic memoirs that not only builds connections across language, but also breaks down barriers and expands hope.
- The House on Mango Streetby Sandra Cisneros (YA F Cisneros)
The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes–sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.
- Before We Were Freeby Julia Alvarez (YA F Alvarez)
In the early 1960s in the Dominican Republic, twelve-year-old Anita learns that her family is involved in the underground movement to end the bloody rule of the dictator, General Trujillo.
Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government’s secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo’s dictatorship.
Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind.
- Zombie Baseball Beatdownby Paolo Bacigalupi (YA F Bacigalupi)
While practicing for their next baseball game, thirteen-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies.