Wednesday, August 23

A New Crop of Books (for all ages) this National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month.  During this time, Americans celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  Here are some ideas for you to incorporate unit studies, read alouds, and other fun activities into your homeschool this month!!

Fantastic New Books!!

This crop of new reads incorporates elements of Hispanic culture, interweaving them seamlessly into stories that educate and / or entertain.  Here are two of our favorites for each age range!

Children's Books

  • Mother of Sharks
    • As the sun sets over another gorgeous day at la Playita Del Condado in Puerto Rico, Meli doesn't want to go home. She loves the ocean more than anything, and with only five minutes left at the beach, she knows exactly where her last stop should be: the tidal pools. They are small universes of their own teeming with critters and creatures of the ocean. While looking into the pools, she meets a crab, Jaiba, who takes her on a dreamlike underwater adventure, teaches her about the importance of shark conservation, and reveals Meli's ultimate destiny: to become the Mother of Sharks.
  • How to Speak in Spanglish
    • Sami loves to speak both English and Spanish. But he doesn't just speak them one at a time. He speaks in Spanglish! Sometimes, he makes brand-new words—like "lonche"—and sometimes, he puts the languages together in one sentence, like when he's hungry for jamberguers con papas fritas.  But not everyone likes Spanglish. Abuela thinks that Spanish should be spoken at home and English at school. And to make matters more complicated, Sami's not allowed to write his homework in Spanglish.  At first, Sami feels confused and frustrated. But with the support of his family, friends, and neighbors, Sami soon realizes that his unique identity should be celebrated. Hooray, muy bien, Sami!

Older Children's Books

  • Hands
    • Trev would do anything to protect his mom and sisters, especially from his stepdad. But his stepdad’s return stresses Trev—because when he left, he threatened Trev’s mom. Rather than live scared, Trev takes matters into his own hands, literally. He starts learning to box to handle his stepdad. But everyone isn’t a fan of his plan, because Trev’s a talented artist, and his hands could actually help him build a better future. And they’re letting him know. But their advice for some distant future feels useless in his reality right now. Ultimately, Trev knows his future is in his hands, and his hands are his own, and he has to choose how to use them.
  • Quien fue Celia Cruz?
    • Although her family and friends know her as Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, the world refers to her simply as Celia Cruz. Starting her career in 1950, Celia grew increasingly popular as the new lead singer of the Cuban band Sonora Matancera. Her exceptional vocal range and flashy costumes made fans fall in love with her.  Celia's talent took her all around the world, including the United States. After Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, she wasn't allowed to return to her native country. She and other Cubans who were exiled used their music to express their love for their homeland.  Celia rose to the top of the charts in a genre that was dominated by men. She become an award-winning singer and the most popular Latin artist of the twentieth century. Azucar! indeed!

Young Adult Books

  • Chupacarter & the Haunted Pinata
    • New kid Jorge is shocked to learn that his beastly friend Carter isn't the only legendary creature in Boca falls. Every few years, the town is terrorized by a haunted . . . piñata? Rumor has it that the petrifying party decoration floats around setting eerie fires to avenge a long-ago betrayal. Jorge can't help but laugh, until a rash of green fires forces the townspeople to consider moving away, including the parents of his pals Ernie and Liza! With Carter at their side, the three friends are in a race against time to catch the real culprit before they're separated forever . . . or the whole town is set aflame. Which will come first?
  • Always Isn't Forever
    • Best friends and soul mates since they were kids, Hart Augusto and Ruby Armenta were poised to take on senior year together when Hart tragically drowns in a boating accident. Absolutely shattered, Ruby struggles to move on from the person she knows was her forever love.  Hart can’t let go of Ruby either…. Due to some divine intervention, he’s offered a second chance. Only it won’t be as simple as bringing him back to life—instead, Hart’s soul is transferred to the body of local bad boy.  When Hart returns to town as Jameson, he realizes that winning Ruby back will be more challenging than he’d imagined. For one, he’s forbidden from telling Ruby the truth. And with each day he spends as Jameson, memories of his life as Hart begin to fade away.  Though Ruby still mourns Hart, she can’t deny that something is drawing her to Jameson. As much as she doesn’t understand the sudden pull, it can’t be ignored. And why does he remind her so much of Hart? Desperate to see if the connection she feels is real, Ruby begins to open her heart to Jameson—but will their love be enough to bridge the distance between them?

Dive Deeper with Literature-Based Unit Studies

  • We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma -- In the early 16th century, Spanish colonies were already well established in the Caribbean islands and they were turning their eyes westward.  Under the leadership of Hernán Cortés, the Spaniards looked to Aztec territory in present-day Mexico...
  • Charlie Hernandez -- Latin American culture is full of terrifying mythological creatures that our parents used to scare us into good behavior!  The Charlie Hernandez books pull myths from several countries and weave them together into a story of good battling evil while teaching readers about these cultural tales.  And no, la chancla isn't one of them, but as any Latino kid should be...
  • The King's Fifth -- The earliest exploration of the Southwest occurred as a result of the accident that left Cabeza de Vaca and his companions shipwrecked along the Gulf Coast.  Cabeza de Vaca was one of the first non-Native Americans to travel through Texas, and he published a narrative of his adventures that would inspire the expeditions of de Soto and Coronado...
  • Encounter -- When Columbus met some native men in the Carribbean, they said "Taíno, Taíno," which meant, "We are good, noble." Columbus thought they were saying the name of their people....and the name stuck...
  • Studying Central America -- Once home to the Mayan civilization, one of the greatest historic civilizations of the Americas, Central America is a narrow isthmus connecting North and South America...

Foreign Language Resources


The best parts of each of these resources is that you don't have to know the language because you'll be learning alongside your children.  This can be used with young children for bilingual development, or with older children as foreign language curriculum.  And the subscription model helps families to stay the course, focusing on different language aspects each month!

What resources would you add to this list?  How will you be celebrating this month in your homeschool?