I'm happy to share another helpful guest post from Stacie with a few lovely recommendations for including more Hispanic culture in our homeschools! Our Friends from Other Lands is one of our favorites, so I know she has excellent taste.
September 15th through October 15th marks the 4 weeks of Hispanic Heritage Month in the US. As a homeschooling mama, who is also Mexican-American, this is an important time for my family to recognize the contributions of people who share our Hispanic background. As a Catholic homeschooling mama, my children are already familiar with so many important Hispanic figures in Catholic history. Can any Catholic think of Mexico and NOT think of Our Lady of Guadalupe?!
But there are so many other important Hispanic heroes to discover, authors to read, and so many things to learn. Hispanic or not, any homeschooler could honor Hispanic Heritage Month in their homeschool without much effort because let’s be honest, homeschool mamas are generally s-u-p-e-r busy as it is. Here is a little list of favorite books and resources that my family has enjoyed during this special month.
Babies thru Primary Grades
Lil’ Libros has created some of the cutest board books and games for kids. Isn’t this Loteria Game the sweetest?!? The cards and game sheets are made very sturdy for little hands that are just learning to play bingo and learn a little Spanish in the process. We also have the Lil’ Libros First 100 Words English and Spanish and the Lil’ Libros Guadalupe: First Words board books. I also appreciate that Lil’ Libros is a company founded by two Latina mothers trying to create bilingual books for their babies. Is there anything we wouldn’t do for the love of our children?
I have to give special recognition to Catholic Heritage Curricula (CHC) for releasing the book, Our Friends From Other Lands. In my humble opinion, this book is underrated by our little Catholic homeschooling community. Perhaps it is because it is spiral-bound or maybe it is because it is marketed as part of reading comprehension. I just do not know why people are not using it more. For the busy mama who does not have time to make a library trip for specific books to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Our Friends From Other Lands is the answer. You can read your kiddos stories from Spain, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil! The stories are engaging and only a few pages long. Every story is accompanied by an additional two pages of information about the specific country. You can see from the Table of Contents just how many countries are represented in the stories. Another quality that makes this book so great is that it can be used for a variety of ages as a read aloud for younger kids to independent reading for your older kids.
A picture book that deserves special recognition for kids in this age range is Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary Schmidt.This book is a Pura Belpre Award winner and for good reason. The illustrations by David Diaz are striking, colorful, and vibrant. One cannot help but be reminded of stained glass images from church when turning the beautiful pages. This picture book is such a touching tribute to an extraordinary Saint whose life is an example to us all. San Martin de Porres, patron of universal brotherhood, interracial relations, social justice, people of mixed race, and animal shelters, pray for us!
My pick for middle school is a book that has made me burst into tears of sadness and joy. I recently re-read this pick to prepare for this post and I cannot recall the last time I felt so deeply about a character and cried so much over a book. It has been years! Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a treasure. In contemporary children’s literature, I challenge anyone to find another teenage, female character that has gone through such a transformational change as Esperanza Ortega of El Rancho de las Rosas undergoes in this book. Born to privilege and security on a beautiful rancho in Mexico, Esperanza’s life was destined to be filled with happiness and amusement. However, unexpected tragedy and cruelty force Esperanza out of her comfortable life in Aquacalientes, Mexico and into Depression-era California. This book is a window into the life of a Hispanic and Catholic family of that era in the United States. Have a tissue when you get to the part about the grotto and Our Lady. In fact, just read with tissues in hand.
One Small Act
There is one other small act that you and your family can do to honor Hispanic Heritage Month and it would not cost you anything. Would you, dear readers, please consider going to your public library and checking out books with Hispanic themes and by Hispanic authors? If your library does not have much, request that they add them to their collection. This way, the reading experience of an entire community might be enriched by not only the books in this article, but from so many other lovely books.