28 Book Recommendations for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrate! ¡Celebremos!

National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 to October 15. During this monthlong celebration, we recognize the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of Hispanic and Latino communities. And what better way to do that than through stories? Here are several book recommendations for kids, teens, and adults—all available at Grand Forks Public.

Picture Books

1. Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Illustrated by Paola Escobar

When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land.

2. Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/ Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello, by Monica Brown, Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Journey with the brave scientist, Julio C. Tello, as he makes revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, proving that the country’s Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago and celebrating their brilliant accomplishments.

3. Alma: and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

How did Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela end up with such a long name? As Daddy tells the story of her many names, Alma can almost feel herself growing into them!

4. Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raúl the Third, Illustrated by Elaine Bay

Quesadillas, churros, kabobs, kimchi, elotes, burritos—there are so many food trucks and so many different kinds of food. Ride along with Little Lobo as they explore all the delicious food found in his town, and learn some Spanish along the way!

5. What Will You Be by Yamile Saied Méndez, Illustrated by Kate Alizadeh

What will you be when you grow up? A young girl dreams about all the endless possibilities, sparking a sense of wonder, curiosity, and growth. With her abuela’s loving guidance, she learns her potential is limitless.

Middle Grade

6. Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Winner of the Pura Belpré award, this book is a story about family, friendship, and tearing down the walls being built between us all.

7. Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera

When a powerful desert spirit kidnaps her sister, Cece Rios must learn forbidden magic to get her back in this own voices middle grade fantasy novel.

8. Big Apple Diaries by Alyssa Bermudez

Based on the author-illustrator’s actual diaries, this graphic memoir follows the life of a young teen in the months before and after the life-changing events of 9/11.

9. Santiago’s Road Home by Alexandra Diaz

Santiago’s future is uncertain until he decides to accompany a mother and her young daughter through Mexico to the United States. None of the three travelers realizes that the journey to the border is just the beginning of their story.

10. Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, Illustrated by Rafael López

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot—the Hispanics featured in this collection come from many different backgrounds and from many different countries. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Young Adult

11. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

12. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

13. Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez

Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. It’s her duty to reclaim the throne.

When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues Catalina from a jaguar, a plan forms. Deep in the jungle, the city of gold is hidden, home to the fierce Illari people, who she could strike an alliance with. But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which could be the key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.

14. Lobizona by Romina Garber

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida. Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered. Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal… it’s her entire existence.

15. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

16. Teen Titans Raven by Kami Garcia, illustrated by Gabriel Picolo

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening—things most people would consider impossible—Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life. But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

17. The House by Paco Roca

In this intensely intimate and international award-winning graphic novel, three adult siblings return to their family’s quaint vacation home a year after their father’s death. They each bring their respective wives, husbands, and children with the intention to clean up the residence and put it on the market, but as garbage is hauled off and dust is wiped away, decades-old resentments quickly fill the vacant home.

The House, brilliantly rendered on panoramic pages, gives us a glimpse into domestic moments of joy, guilt, and disappointment while asking what happens to brothers and sisters when the only person holding the family together is now gone. At once deeply personal and entirely universal, Paco Roca’s The House details the struggle to overcome the past, but still hold onto the memories.

Adult Fiction

18. Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained.

19. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

20. The Taste of Sugar by Marisel Vera

It is 1898, and groups of starving Puerto Ricans, los hambrientos, roam the parched countryside and dusty towns begging for food. Under the yoke of Spanish oppression, the Caribbean island is forced to prepare to wage war with the United States. Up in the mountainous coffee region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their small farm from the creditors. When the Spanish-American War and the great San Ciriaco Hurricane of 1899 bring devastating upheaval, the young couple is lured, along with thousands of other puertorriqueños, to the sugar plantations of Hawaii—another US territory—where they are confronted by the hollowness of America’s promises of prosperity. Writing in the tradition of great Latin American storytelling, Marisel Vera’s The Taste of Sugar is an unforgettable novel of love and endurance, and a timeless portrait of the reasons we leave home.

21. Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

22. Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

23. Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Nonfiction

24. Cuba: The Cookbook by Madelaine Vazquez Gálvez

Cuban food is known worldwide for its blend of bright colors and intense flavors, and Cuba: The Cookbook is the first book to celebrate and document comprehensively its cuisine and contemporary food culture.

25. Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.

26. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she’d tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer’s phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants—and to find the hidden key to her own.

27. Once I Was You by María Hinojosa

Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the south side of Chicago and documenting the existential wasteland of immigration detention camps for news outlets that often challenged her work. In these pages, she offers a personal and eye-opening account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also enabled willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today.

28. App Kid by Michael Sayman

As his parents watched their restaurant business collapse in the wake of the Great Recession, thirteen-year-old Michael Sayman was googling “how to code.” Within a year, he had launched an iPhone app that was raking in thousands of dollars a month, enough to keep his family afloat—and in America. Entirely self-taught, Sayman headed from high school straight into the professional world, and by the time he was seventeen, he was Facebook’s youngest employee ever, building new features that wowed Mark Zuckerberg. In this candid and uplifting memoir, Sayman shares the highs and lows, the successes and failures, of his remarkable journey. It tells the galvanizing story of how a young Latino, not yet old enough to drink, excelled in the cutthroat world of Silicon Valley, becoming an inspiration to thousands of kids across the United States and Latin America by following his own surprising, extraordinary path.

Check out one of these titles at Grand Forks Public, browse our online catalog, or explore our digital collection for ebook and audiobook options. In addition, we have a number of related films to stream available on Kanopy. Check out these Hispanic Heritage Month films.

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