Since forever I remember books being in our home. I also remember my mother always having some sort of reading material in her hand. I was that child who would stay upstairs and read instead of going outside and playing on the block. I am that adult right now that would rather curl up with a book instead of going out on a Friday night. I also remember the stories that were told within our Puerto Rican family and thinking, “this would make for a great book”. After all, that’s how stories are created right? It’s always great to read books that we can relate to. Relating to the characters and the language has always been a plus for me. Latino Book Month is celebrating literature by and for Latinos, and we have plenty of them in our household. Here are a few of our favorite:
Carmen Learns English by Judy Cox
This story is about a little girl who is learning to speak English as a second language. As many of us sometimes know, we feel as if we may sound funny speaking that second language. I was able to relate to this story as English being my first language and learning Spanish. I always felt a little self conscious if I didn’t pronounce the words in the correct tense. As I got older I realized no one is perfect and we are allowed to make mistakes. I also was always open to someone correcting me but NOT making fun of me. Carmen became more confident and her teacher, Ms. Coski turned the situation around by having Carmen teach the class English. Carmen learned from her classmates and they learned from her. A great reminder for children that we can all learn from one another!
Mama Does The Mambo by Katherine Leiner
Another story I can so deeply relate to. Many years ago when someone died you were “de luto” (grieving) and you often wore black for a very long time. Many older generations still follow this custom. Now, in today’s modern days, many people celebrate that person’s life through music and a dinner back home. The little girl in the story, Sofia, missed her Mama dancing after her Papa suddenly died. She missed seeing the “alegria” (happiness) of her mother and her swaying to the rhythm. Mama not dancing signified to Sofia that she was still triste (sad) and Sofia didn’t want that for her mother. All along she worried about a partner for her mother to dance with at the Carnival but the perfect partner was her! Sofia remembered the steps of her Papa and she was her mother’s partner. They danced together and enjoyed the rhythm of the beat. A wonderful story to discuss, although someone dies we can always keep their memory alive with small things such as dancing.
Guadalupe Quintanilla – Leader of the Hispanic Community by Mary Dodson Wade
A magnificent story of the strides a mother would go through in order to help her children achieve excellence. Guadalupe witnessed that her own children were struggling in school due to the language barrier. She chose to learn the English language to be able to assist them in their studies. She took it upon herself to enroll in school and juggled roles as wife, mother, and student. After she received her diploma she moved on to new goals of receiving a college degree. In 1971, she achieved her goal and received a Master of Arts degree. She was soon hired at The University of Houston and became the first Mexican-American woman to teach there. This serves as a great example for our children to see that although you may be faced with obstacles and challenges, you must have perseverance and follow your dreams. When one door closes another opens, and if it doesn’t make it open!
Hispanic Stories Diego Rivera by Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson
This book is a great story that tells the life of artist Diego Rivera. I love the way the book is written in Spanish and English. It’s great to read to our children in both languages so they can hear Spanish fluently and become more accustomed and exposed to their language. A story of a boy who had goals and aspirations like all of us. He was supported by his parents and developed his own style of art. He traveled the world studying art and soon making it his own. Another great role model for our children reminding them to never give up on their dreams and NO dream is too big.
Within all of these stories the theme shines through. A perfect selection of books for our children to see that anything is attainable through hard work, dedication, and positivity! Children and parents are able to relate through these titles and characters because some of them might emulate them.
Which books do you love that are written by Latino authors or are for Latinos?