Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Whether we’re talking about music, food, dance, language or literature, the contributions and influences of the Latinx community in America are boundless. This month, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with stories of immigration, love, survival, coming-of-age, folklore and many others that span the cultures of Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. Here is a list of books you may already be familiar with and others that you may not know yet but won’t soon forget.

Esperanza Rising (Scholastic Gold)
Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising is an inspiring tale set in the 1930s about a wealthy young girl who is forced to flee Mexico with her mother after her father’s death. Esperanza grows up quickly as she adjusts to her new life on a labor ranch in Southern California. This powerful depiction of one girl’s immigration story is sure to spark important conversations among young readers.

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a profound coming-of-age story about two vastly different Mexican American teenagers who form a deep and somewhat inexplicable connection. This quietly beautiful tale is a must-read for fans of They Both Die at the End.

 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a gripping portrayal of a contemporary Mexican American teenager who is caught between the cultural expectations of her traditional family and her desire to forge her own path. After the death of her seemingly perfect older sister, Julia is left to pick up the pieces and discovers that her sister may not have been as perfect as she seemed. Erika L. Sanchez has crafted a contemporary story with a mystery element that readers will not soon put down.

 

Cemetery Boys
Aiden Thomas

When Yadriel’s traditional Latinx family is unwilling to accept his gender, he takes it upon himself to prove that he is a true brujo by secretly performing the sacred rite ritual with his cousin, Maritza. However, what he doesn’t count on is summoning the ghost of his classmate who doesn’t even know he’s dead – or how he died. Part paranormal fantasy, part mystery, part slow-burn romance, Cemetery Boys is a must-read for lovers of all genres. Major bonus points for the rich, atmospheric setting and the mouth-watering descriptions of his abuelita’s Latin cooking.

 

Poet X
Elizabeth Acevedo

By award-winning slam poet and author of With the Fire on High and Clap When You Land is an astonishing novel-in-verse about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth. Focusing on struggles with faith, identity, relationships and sexuality, Acevedo pulls from her own experiences growing up Dominicana in Harlem. If you’re a fan of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina and Jason Reynolds, you need to read this book! “In The Poet X, Acevedo skillfully sculpts powerful, self-contained poems into a masterpiece of a story, and has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero.” -Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street

 

Furia
Yamile Saied Méndez

It may be a man’s world, but girls will always run it. From rising star author and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers grant Yamile Mendez comes a powerful coming-of-age story drawn from everyday life experiences in her hometown of Rosario, Argentina. Sprinkle in a little budding romance and you’ve got yourself a powerful, contemporary YA novel about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line to make her life her own. Perfect for fans oThe Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.

 

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood
Danny Trejo, Donal Logue

The actor who made his name playing tough guys in movies actually had it rough growing up in an abusive household. Danny Trejo got in trouble with the law, did drugs and ultimately did hard time in San Quentin and Folsom prisons in California. Today, he is sober and drug-free, a foodie and a restauranteur. He gives back to the community and is beloved by all of Hollywood. It’s a rags-to-riches story for a guy who is finally seeing some accolades for his film work.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Meg Medina

Sixth grade can be tough for anyone, but Merci Suárez is having a tougher year than most. In addition to all of the drama that comes with middle school, Merci’s family is also experiencing some changes at home. Full of heart, Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a sweet and funny story of a young Latina girl that is completely deserving of its Newbery Medal.

 

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island Series #1)
Alex Aster

When 12-year-old Tor wakes up one morning to find that he has been cursed, he embarks on a quest with his friends Melda and Engle to find the Night Witch, who they believe is the only one who can reverse his fate. Using the mythical Book of Cuentos as their guide, the three friends encounter the dangerous monsters and treacherous terrains they have only read about in stories. This darkly fun and fast-paced adventure filled with Colombian folklore is a must-read for fans of Rick Riordan.

 

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Pablo Cartaya

Warm and funny, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the touching story of a Cuban American boy and his mission to save his family’s beloved Miami restaurant. Arturo’s story is an inspiring tale of family and community that young readers won’t want to miss.

 

Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons
John Paul Brammer

Based on the popular LGBTQ advice column of the same name, ¡Hola Papi! is John Paul Brammer’s humorous and endearing memoir-in-essays with topics focusing on cultural and racial identity, queerness and the pain of love and loss. Brammer considers himself the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” and his experience as a biracial Mexican American, gay man in rural America will be relatable to many.

 

The Soul of a Woman
Isabel Allende

With a liberated perspective and knowing wisdom that certain age and retrospection can bestow, The Soul of a Woman is an opinionated, embracing and compassionate look at a big full life, its experiences savored, its lessons lived and lessons learned. For Allende, feminism is central to life, a world view and the thread that binds her past to her present, young self to older, daughter to mother, human to human. A memoir with enormous spirit and heart.

 

My Broken Language: A Memoir
Quiara Alegría Hudes

It’s safe to say that most things that come out of West Philadelphia are worthy of praise and that doesn’t stop with Quiara Alegría Hudes! The Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and co-writer of Tony Award-nominated In the Heights, tells her lyrical story of coming of age in a Philadelphia barrio and her journey through language in her Puerto Rican family. This is a great read for fans of Poet X or The Undocumented Americans!

 

Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America
Maria Hinojosa

Once I Was You has been hailed as one of the Best Books of 2020 by … well, just about everyone! Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa’s story of civil rights, women’s rights and immigration policy is full of heart and she “hope(s) people will use this book to become better human beings and to do better.” “In these times of love and hate, Maria Hinojosa’s astonishing story is medicine, healing, illumination. She swallows fear as if she were a circus performer swallowing fire. She encourages, inspires, and challenges us to find our own courage. Once I Was You is a dazzling gift she has bestowed upon us and America.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

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