Latinx / Latine Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. It’s a special month honoring the cultures, histories, and contributions of Latinx people in the U.S. The recognition to observe Latinx heritage was started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson as a one-week celebration and was expanded to 30-days by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
The term “Latinx” refers to people of Latin-American origin or descent. It is used as a gender-neutral or non-binary word choice for Latino/Latina, which has a feminine or masculine ending. Many use “Latine” as a language-conscious term since Latinx has English-language pronunciation.
Latinas have paved paths and demonstrated resilience to bring about positive changes. From advocating for women’s rights, diversifying library outreach, and even going into space, Latinas have demonstrated a !Sí, se puede! (Yes, it is possible) attitude to bring about fair and just opportunities for the next generation. Little feminists can learn from these women today and view examples of Latinx changemakers and their contributions.
When searching for books with Latinx representation, it’s important to seek stories that show positive situations. Select books that highlight Latinx joy versus stories of stereotypical oppression and repeated victim/immigration narratives–this is already overrepresented in our media. Picking stories by Latinx authors allows the writers’ voices to be heard and helps support more Latinx representation in the publishing industry.
MEET THE LATINA FEMALE CHANGE-MAKERS
Regardless of age, anyone can be a changemaker. A changemaker is someone who demonstrates leadership and creates a new reality for the good of the people. Growing up in an immigrant Latine household, I did not see many examples of changemakers who looked like me. Today there are several books about strong female characters defying standards and bringing about change in society. Here are some Latina changemakers to recognize during this special month: Celia Cruz, Pura Belpré, Luz Jiménez, and Millo Castro Zaldarriaga.
THE 5 BEST INCLUSIVE BOOKS FOR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH
The Life Of/La Vida de Celia: A Bilingual Picture Book Biography
- Best for ages 0-2
This concept board book showcases Celia Cruz’s culture and career with vibrant colors on each spread.
What we love: The story is bilingual and is written in English and Spanish.
Things to know: For older kiddos, read a longer biography on Celia Cruz to give more context, such as My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
- Best for ages 2-4
An inspiring story about a young girl who dreamed of being a drummer during a time when the occupation belonged to boys.
What we love: The book highlights a Chinese-African-Cuban girl breaking taboo norms to accomplish her dreams.
Things to know: The book doesn’t go into depth about the all-girl dance band, but there is a historical note to learn more. Make your own drum set and drum like Millo with our activity here.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
- Best for ages 4-7
A picture book biography about Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian to work for the New York Public Library System.
What we love: We appreciate the vivid illustrations and the author’s note with more details about Pura Belpré’s journey.
Things to know: The book doesn’t detail the Pura Belpré award presented to a Latino or Latina author and/or illustrator whose work best portrays the Latinx experience through books.
Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers
- Best for ages 7-9
A collection of short Latina biographies available in English and Spanish.
What we love: The author has illustrated each biography using the child form of each changemaker instead of the adult to connent with readers.
Things to know: The selection of the 40 Latina women depicts Latin American women’s racial and cultural diversity.
Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua
- Best for ages 7-9
A biography of Luz Jiménez and her work to preserve her people’s culture, history, and Nahuatl language.
What we love: The book includes a list of works of art Luz Jiménez modeled for and an actual photograph of Luz.
Things to know: While we wished the timeline was visual, the book does include biography notes for further research and a glossary with select Nahua words.