Literature is a powerful thing. The right book can ignite our imagination, introduce us to extraordinary heroes, and give us the strength we need to overcome obstacles. Literature is also a wonderful tool for representation. Individuals who often get overlooked are given the opportunity to feel seen when someone like them is featured in the pages of a good story. For educators, there’s no better time to put these values into practice than during a time of cultural celebration.

Right now, Hispanic Heritage Month is underway, and many classrooms are looking to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans on our nation’s history. To better help your students understand the significance of this month, while also building up their language skills, consider reading one of these five books as a class. Your students will discover amazing individuals who changed the world, gain a better understanding of the world around, and maybe even learn a little Spanish!

  • My Name Is Gabriela by Monica Brown and John Parra (AD440L) Gabriela Mistral loved words and sounds and stories. Born in Chile, she would grow to become the first Nobel Prize-winning Latina woman in the world. As a poet and a teacher, she inspired children across many countries to let their voices be heard. This beautifully crafted story, where words literally come to life, is told with the rhythm and melody of a poem.
  • Abuela by Arthur Dorros (510L) Come join Rosalba and her grandmother, her abuela, on a magical journey as they fly over the streets, sights, and people of New York City which sparkles below. The story is narrated in English and sprinkled with Spanish phrases as Abuela points out places that they explore together. (Take advantage of this YouTube read-aloud)
  • Tito Puente: Mambo King by Monica Brown & Rafael Lopez (AD740L) Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards—and all the beats in between—this is the true-life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the “King of Mambo.” (Take advantage of this YouTube read-aloud)
  • Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera and Raul Colón (Grades 3 – 7) This book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics. Portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this book is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1410L) This celebrated masterpiece by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature and helped pioneer the genre of magical realism. Though this book may be too advanced for some of your students, consider reading sections as a class to explore conversations about character, theme, and imagery.

By reading together as a class, students can learn more about the people of their community as well as the world around them. Don’t miss this chance to broaden their horizon and get them thinking about literature, history, and so much more! If you found these resources helpful, be sure to check out the latest Blue Apple Timely Topic: Hispanic Heritage Month. This Timely Topic is free to download and comes with four 15-minute activities designed to spark student curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

For more free educational resources, check out out these teacher-tested strategies from Blue Apple!