Hispanic Heritage Month in the Children's Library by Emma Otheguy
Emma Otheguy is the author of several books for children, including Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene, A Sled for Gabo, and the award-winning picture book Martí’s Song for Freedom. The first book in her new I Can Read series, Reina Ramos, will be published September 20th. She holds a Ph.D. in history and has been a member of the Library since 2014. Most of her books as well as her dissertation were written in the Library. Visit her at emmaotheguy.com.
Choosing only a few children’s books with a Hispanic/Latin focus is always a challenge, for two reasons: one, because Latin people in the United States are such a large and varied group that the experience can not be distilled into a single book, and two, because there are so many books to share, and new ones are being published every week. I would like to recommend a few titles for your children, but more importantly, I would love for your children to fall in love with Latin literature, to find favorite Latin authors whose new releases they were excited to read each year, and to become literate in the history and cultural experiences of Latin people, who today make up twenty-five percent of the child population. These titles represent a small introduction to Latin literature for children, and just a taste of the many books by Latin authors kids can find in the Children's Library.
This anthology for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12) celebrates Latina heroes from across Latin America and the United States. It is a visually stunning book, with illustrations depicting each of the “Latinitas” as children, surrounded by objects that symbolize their later achievements. There’s a lot to love about this book, but I think what speaks to me the most is its breadth–almost every Latin American country is represented in the book, as are the different racial identities in the Latin community.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
This book of poems about Arturo Schomburg is a must-read for budding New Yorkophiles. The book traces Schomburg’s life from his childhood in Puerto Rico to the sale of his library. Short poems highlight different aspects of his active life, and Eric Velasquez’s illustrations illuminate each page. The timeline and bibliography model the highest caliber of research to young readers – and may be useful to curious adults as well!
Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri
This sweet picture book is perfect for Latin kids navigating back-to-school, and I particularly liked the translanguaging; Spanish is woven perfectly into the text. Alexandra is also a fellow member of Las Musas, a collective of Latina authors of which I am a part!
The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez
This middle-school novel has got to be one of the most fun kids’ books published by a Latin author in the last few years. Think: kids-forming-a-band fun. The book includes pages from zines, which the author handmade herself. It is exceptionally cool. I also appreciated that the book portrayed kids from a range of Latin backgrounds who were all friends with one another, having authentic conversations about what their Latin identity means (and doesn’t mean) to them.
Cool Salsa and Barrio Streets, Carnival Dreams: Three Generations of Latino Artistry, ed. Lori CarlsonThese are a pair of anthologies that I discovered browsing the shelves of the Children's Library! They’re a little older than my other selections, and the ways in which we think and talk about Latinidad have changed since these books were published in the 1990s. That being said, I found some gems in their pages. One of the most delightful finds was a piece of artwork from R.J. Palacio, long before she wrote Wonder!