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Writers Against Racism: Hispanic Heritage Month

Tomorrow begins Hispanic Heritage Month! I have no doubt that teachers and librarians are adorning their bulletin boards, and probably scrambling to find relevant books, so they can "cover" the month appropriately. But what about when October ends? Are the books re-shelved?


Wouldn’t it be better if Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and all the "other" celebratory months, dropped the Months from their titles? I’d much prefer to incorporate reading lists like the one featured on the Florida’s Department of Education’s website, as an integral (integrated) part of a teacher’s language arts curriculum. 

Here are suggested readings from the FDOE:

Elementary (Pre K–2)
Doña Flor Pat Mora
My Mexico Tony Johnston
Salsa Stories Lulu Delacre


Elementary (3–5)
Family Pictures Carmen Lomas Garza
Extraordinary Hispanic Americans Susan Sinnott
The Bossy Gallito Lucia Gonzalez
Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers Pat Mora

Middle School (6–8)
César Chávez: A Voice for Farmworkers Bárbara C. Cruz
When I was a Boy Neruda Called Me Policarpo Poli Délano
Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States Lori Carlson, Editor

High School (9–12)

Journey of the Sparrows Fran Leeper Buss
Jesse Gary Soto
Yo! Julia Alvarez

Also, where are the W.A.R. writers on this list?  By the way, who decides who makes the list, and who doesn’t? After today, I, along with other W.A.R. will be compiling our own K-12 reading lists!


  1. George Edward Stanley says:

    What an incredible post, Amy! I agree with you, though, that the celebration of Hispanic history, Black history, Asian history (and all histories of the people who make up this country) should not be relegated to a particular month of the year and then forgotten. Unfortunately, with Hispanic month, there will probably also be many, many, many people who see this as an attempt to “force the Spanish language down their throats” instead of seeing it as a way to expand their own narrow points of view.

  2. George Edward Stanley says:

    On rereading my comment, Amy, I have to admit that it will probably sound terribly negative to a lot of people, but I’m afraid it’s the result of trying for over six frustrating decades to get Americans to see the incredible benefits of learning other languages. I still believe that if we took international language study seriously in this country we’d have better relations with most of the world.

  3. Amy Bowllan says:

    True, George, and if we looked at our global United States we would have thought through the national curriculum, so to include the myriad of cultures. People can only be “against” what they do not know, or care to know. Best, Amy

  4. Nancy Y. Wade says:

    I truly believe in uniting the ‘Heritage Months” in one history book. I have written this book in am interactive, page-turning multi-media format.
    The novel Beads on a String-America’s Racially Intertwined Biographical History is America’s first interracial history book. It is the first and only book to bring America’s great melting pot of ethnicity together within one binding and tells their story of how individuals of different races contributed to America.

  5. Mayra Lazara Dole says:

    i hear you Amy, pero for now, VIVA HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH! : D

  6. Amy Bowllan says:

    Nancy, where is your book being circulated? I would love a copy for my library, as well as my K-12 reading lists. I will check out the links, too.

    Mayra, gracias mi amigo! :)

  7. Mayra Lazara Dole says:

    Amy, i laughed so hard. it’s AMIGA!–with an A in the end (but it’s OK, i’ve been known to wear an O on occasions!)

  8. Amy Bowllan says:

    AYE!!! And to think I took Spanish for many, many years!!! I am so sorry!!! :) LOL (((I am hiding under my desk.))) LOL


  9. George Edward Stanley says:

    Mayra, your last post said it all for me: We can laugh with each other and cry with each other and use our differences and our similarities to expand our horizons.

  10. Nancy Y. Wade says:

    At the moment Beads on a String is only on my site

  11. Jo Ann Hernandez says:

    As usual you ask the hard questions. It’s nice to hear someone else asking the same questions I ask. Except I get called fantatic or too sensitive. I’m glad you are right in there, Amy, pitiching with the best of them.
    Thank you for all you do.

    You know when this first happened, I wondered why it was two split months. Then I learned it had to do with a Mexican holiday. Ya’d think that being we’re Americans and so many people are telling us to be more American, they wouldn’t have connected us to someone else’s holidays. Curiouser and couriouser!

  12. I’ve read some great YA fiction by Latino/a authors in the past two years. Once I got a taste for different styles I wanted more.

  13. Good point, Amy–why don’t they know about Matt, or Mayra, or Jo Ann, or Francisco? And so many other fabulous writers…How about having our Latino writers–or any WAR participants–submit a review of their favorite Latino book? Their reviews would complement your lists.

  14. I had a really hard time coming to terms with Black History Month. When I started teaching Black History as a full year course, I decided to use February to celebrate the history we’d been learning. The idea of celebrating the culture kind of stuck with me and I prefer that so much more than thinking that’s the only time to roll out the posters. Sept/Oct I celebrate Latino/a and learn a lot!
    I’ve got a full month planned on Crazy Quilts. This project (WAR) has made me want to do a better job of promoting authors. Because if we don’t…
    JoAnn Hernandez is running a promotional contest on her blog, BronzeWord.

  15. Amy Bowllan says:

    I will be scouring the blogs, looking for more, so feel free to bring it on.

    W.A.R. is for all of our voices to hear.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing theirs…

  16. I was at a conference in the valley and heard a Latina author speaking to a group of students. I was not impressed, but kept my mouth shut because I did not want to offend anyone. When the person I was with, an hispanic librarian who was there to receive Regional Librarian of the Year, turned to me, she said, “She isn’t very good. She’s just spouting tired old stereotypes.” My thoughts exactly. And too often, this is the type of minority author that students are exposed to because really good authors are not as easy to get. I consider authors like her to be parasites who kill any attempt to incorporate multicultural literature into education. After listening to her (and she’s not the only one I’ve been embarrassed to hear addressing our students) my first impulse was to say forget about bringing in minority literature if it’s as bad as that. But I have read beautiful words written by authors of all cultures and wish that my textbooks would include more literature by great minority authors and that speakers would be chosen by their ability, not by their price. That’s one of the main reasons my two friends and I have started our foundation to bring authors and issues to the people of Laredo – if we don’t do it, who will? People need to be reminded that words can touch the heart and help us understand that we are not so different when you get to know us. Colors, accents and origins may vary slightly, but hearts and souls and dreams are identical. Thank you Amy for giving me more titles and authors to recommend to my students and friends.

  17. Laura Atkins says:

    Yes, as I looked at that list I thought, some great books here, but quite old. It’s difficult for people to find out about the newest titles. Elizabeth Bluemle has created a list of “contemporary books featuring kids of color that aren’t primarily about race.” These include Latino books amongst others, and she’s found several 2009/10 titles:

  18. Debra Harris Johnson says:

    I’ve read Nancy Wade’s e-book “Beads on a String” and it is very empowering because it is inclusive of all races & the part everyone played in the history. A MUST read. Bravo Ms. Wade