Let’s celebrate Latinx Heritage Month! It started today, Sept. 15 and goes until Oct. 15. To start my celebration I am sharing a list of books that I have read and enjoyed over the past few years. I am also sharing books by Latinx authors that are on my current TBR list.
Books I Have Enjoyed
First, I Will Read Anything By Elizabeth Acevedo!!!! She has proven to be a powerhouse with each book that she has published in the last few years. Do yourself a favor and get the audiobooks whenever you get a chance too.
- The Poet X is a classic and is about Xiomara, a young poet, who is struggling with her relationships with her mother and her religion while she blossoms into a young writer.
- With The Fire on High is a beautiful ode to teen mothers and the challenges they face as they continue their journey through young adulthood while raising a child of their own. This book had my mouth watering with all of the delicious recipes! Main character, Emoni is an aspiring chef and the girl can cook!
- Clap When You Land is a tale of two sisters who have never met, but share a father who dies in a tragic plane crash. One sister, Camino Rios , live in the Dominican Republic and the other sister, Yahaira Rios lives in New York City. As Papi’s secrets are revealed, the girls face a new reality.
Other Current Faves
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez. Julia is obsessed with investigating the death of her straight-laced sister, Olga. This book deals with mental health issues. The mother-daughter relationship will pull you in.
- Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older tells the story of Sierra Santiago who comes from a long line of shadowshapers and muralists. But her heritage has been hidden from her, until her grandfather suffers a mysterious stroke. There are zombies too…
- The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez is a about the Rivera family who move to Delaware in search of treatment for their daughter Maribel. She has suffered a traumatic brain injury in Mexico and they are hopeful that the American Dream will give them back hope. I loved all of the different stories folded into the main narrative. Watch out, this one is a heart wrencher.
- The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext is a phenomenal volume of poetry by Latinx poets that you should definitely check out. The topics range from hip hop to race to gender to nationalities. The styles range from freestyle to traditional poetry formats like sestinas.
- In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is one of my all-time favorite books. I actually read this when I was in high school. I discovered it on my own based on my love of historical fiction. It is the story of the Mirabel sisters who fought in the resistance against Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.
Books That Are On My Reading List
- Dominicana by Angie Cruz. Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
- Running by Natalia Sylvester. Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career he has always had his daughter’s vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family, from a 60 Minutes–style tour of their house to tabloids doctoring photos and inventing scandals. As tensions rise within the Ruiz family, Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions, and she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was.
- Lobizona by Romina Garber. Some people ARE illegal. Lobizonas do NOT exist. Both of these statements are false. 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.
- Neverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta. Fabio flies through the streets of Bogotá on his bicycle, the children of his neighborhood trailing behind him. It is there that life feels right—where the world of adults, and their lies, fades away. But then one day, he simply forgets. Forgets how to ride his bicycle. And Fabio will never be the same again.
- When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez. Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.
- The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. A story about a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.
- Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed Edited by Saraciea J. Fennell. An anthology of bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices who interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth.
- Living Beyond Borders: Growing up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria. In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers.
If you are on Instagram, make sure you follow #latinxbookstagramtour, created by @lupitareads and hosted by @readingwithnani and @thesolreader this year. They are going to light your TBR up with fantastic recs!
Save the Date: Latinx KidsLit Book Festival
If you are an educator, start planning now to attend the free Latinx KidsLit Book Festival, December 9-10, 2021! The schedule includes authors, illustrators and books! Students can submit questions to the authors! Your class will also be entered into a book giveaway contest for class sets of select titles if they submit. It is a fun event! I attended part of it last year and I love that they really involved educators and students.
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