Books about Hispanic Heritage

September 19, 2015

Books about Hispanic Heritage

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to highlight books by celebrated Hispanic authors and/or books about the Hispanic experience. All of these books can be borrowed from the Roslindale Branch Library. The branch also carries a number of books in Spanish.

En honor del Mes de la Herencia Hispana, queremos destacar libros por autores hispanos y libros sobre la experiencia hispana. Todos estos libros pueden ser prestados de la biblioteca. También puede encontrar una serie de libros en español allí.


One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the 20th century’s enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize-winning career. The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America. Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility — the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth — these universal themes dominate the novel.

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, With Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies (Audiobook)
By Laura Esquivel

Like Water For Chocolate, a poignant love story told from a woman’s point of view, takes place on the De la Garza ranch in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Cooking and eating play a central role in the tale. The heroine, Tita, a master chef, was literally born in the kitchen. Following tradition, her tyrannical mother decrees that Tita as the youngest must not marry but must instead care for her mother in old age. Unable to communicate freely, Tita concocts recipes so magically potent as to convey her emotions to all who eat her creations- even the chickens with often hilarious results. Narrator Yareli Arizmendi, who stars in the hit film of this title, puts in a powerful performance.

The House of the Spirits
By Isabel Allende

A magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship
By Julia Alvarez

The popular author talks about three of her most personal relationships–with her parents, with her husband, and with a young Haitian boy known as Piti.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Spanish Version)
By Junot Diaz

Overweight and nerdy Oscar lives with his Dominican-American mother and sister in New Jersey and dreams of becoming a renowned author and finding true love, but unfortunately, a family curse stands in the way of his wishes.

His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S.
by Geraldo Rivera

Examines the undocumented immigration of Hispanics into the United States, analyzing concerns raised by this issue and arguing that much of the hatred towards these undocumented immigrants is based on racism and ignorance.

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
by Juan Gonzalez

So many Hispanics came to this country toward the latter part of the twentieth century that they changed the face of the nation and are challenging its very identity. By 2050, one out of every five U.S. residents will be of Hispanic origin. The corner bodega, the salsa night spot, Mexican fajitas, and Spanish novellas are now as ubiquitous as rock ‘n’ roll and the state fair. But in this era of the global marketplace, our government persists in erecting a steel, concrete, and electronic wall along our southern border to keep new Latinos out. Despite all efforts to restrict immigration in the 1990s, the Americanos keep coming–myriad differences among them in culture and class outlook, yet sharing the same language. Juan Gonzalez’s passionate, sweeping, searching chronicle traces the Anglo-Hispanic encounter from the first sixteenth-century New World colonies and nineteenth-century U.S. conquest, gunboat diplomacy, and economic colonization of the Latin world up to the 1998 presidential election. Through intimate portraits (among them the author’s own family), with which many readers will identify, Harvest of Empire reveals their experiences and concerns as they make a new life and transform this nation for a new century and an integrated hemisphere.

World’s End
By Pablo Neruda

Collects a book-length poem by Chilean writer Pablo Neruda, presented in both Spanish and English, in which he examines issues of social and political disillusionment.

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Print and Audio book)
By Antonio Mendez

This book relates the true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran. On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal. But there is a little-known footnote to the crisis: six Americans escaped. A mid-level agent named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them. Armed with foreign film visas, Mendez and an unlikely team of CIA agents and Hollywood insiders, directors, producers, and actors, traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake film called Argo. While pretending to find the ideal backdrops, the team succeeded in contacting the escapees and smuggling them out of Iran without a single shot. Here the author finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led more than three decades ago.

Teens/Young Adults

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

For Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, life is an endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, and she tries to rise above the hopelessness

Dreaming in Cuban
by Cristina Garcia

The story of four strong-willed women of the del Pino family of Havana and of Brooklyn who are divided by conflicting political loyalties.

Bless Me, Ultima
By Rudolfo Anaya

Six-year-old Antonio embarks upon a spiritual journey under the watchful guidance of Ultima, a healing woman, that leads him to question his faith and beliefs in family, religion, and other aspects of his Chicano culture.

Rainbow High
By Alex Sanchez

Follows three gay high school seniors as they struggle with issues of coming out, safe sex, homophobia, being in love, and college choices.

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States
By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

Maps the influence of America’s Hispanic past, from the explorers and conquistadors who helped colonize Puerto Rico and Florida, to the missionaries and rancheros who settled in California and the 20th-century resurgence in major cities like Chicago and Miami.

Immigration from South America
By Tracy Barnett

An overview of immigration from South America to the United States and Canada since the 1960s, discussing conditions leading to immigration, immigration patterns, problems facing immigrants, and more.

Diego Rivera: Artist of Mexico
by Lila Guzman

By painting on the walls of public buildings, Diego Rivera made his art available to everyone, rich or poor. In his lifetime, Rivera painted enough murals to stretch over a mile. Mexico’s most famous muralist also painted on buildings in the United States, increasing awareness of Mexican history and culture wherever he went. Rivera, married to the artist Frida Kahlo, was known for stirring controversy with his art and his actions. Young readers will be fascinated by the large man with an even larger personality: the artist whose tremendous talent brought Mexico and Mexican art world-renown.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
By Sonia Manzano

It is 1969 in Spanish Harlem, and fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is trying hard to break free from her conservative Puerto Rican surroundings, but when her activist grandmother comes to stay and the neighborhood protests start, things get a lot more complicated–and dangerous.

Cesar Chavez (DVD)

The story of the famed civil rights leader and labor organizer torn between his duties as a husband and father and his commitment to securing a living wage for farm workers. Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle to bring dignity to people. He inspired millions of Americans who never worked on a farm to fight for social justice. His triumphant journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the world.


Extraordinary Hispanic Americans
By Cesar Alegre

The lives of some famous and accomplished Hispanic Americans.

Day of the Dead: A Mexican-American Celebration
By Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

Describes the activities associated with the Mexican h

Chato Goes Cruisin’
By Gary Soto

Chato and Novio win a cruise but are disappointed to find that everyone else on board is a dog, and things go from bad to worse when the dogs party themselves sick and it is up to the cats to find help.

My Name is Maria Isabel
By Alma Flor Ada

Third grader Maria Isabel, born in Puerto Rico and now living in the U.S., wants badly to fit in at school; and the teacher’s writing assignment “My Greatest Wish” gives her that opportunity.

Esperanza Rising
By Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

El Drago Simon no puede dormir (Spanish Version)
By Merce Aranega

“El Dragón Simón es un pequeño dragón volador que escupe fuego por la boca, pero no da ningún miedo. Tiene un gran corazón y siempre está dispuesto a ayudar a sus amigos. Si quieres conocerlo, sólo tienes que leer sus divertidas aventuras. También te propone simpáticos juegos al final del libro. Para disfrutar y aprender.”– In English. When Simón the dragon cannot sleep, he sings to himself and asks his grandmother to help him handle his fears.

El faro de las almas (Spanish version)
by Ariel Andres Almada

Leo’s grandfather gives him an old lighthouse for his ninth birthday and shows him how he uses it to send messages to lonely people in the night.

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Creció En El Bronx
By Jonah Winter

Winter chronicles the life of the first Latina Supreme Court justice, from her childhood in the Bronx to her historic nomination. The tone is upbeat from its opening line: “You never know what can happen.” Sotomayor certainly had a lot of obstacles to overcome: poverty, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father when she was nine. But Winter clearly identifies hard work, determination, and a loving extended family as the keys to her success. The author is honest about how her socioeconomic background sometimes made her feel alienated at Princeton University. The emphasis, though, is on her ability to thrive “like a flowering vine that would not stop growing.” Images of flowers blooming unify the text and the illustrations. Rodriguez’s warm yellows and oranges also underscore the optimism of Winter’s text. Moreover, the variety of media used (pastel, acrylic, spray paint, and oil-based paints) perfectly echoes the rich textures of Sotomayor’s life. The Spanish translation is excellent and makes the book accessible to Latino families. Sotomayor’s story can inspire children of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds to work hard and pursue educational and professional success.

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