During Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) we will be posting articles and information relating to the impact of Latinos in the United as well as looking at their culture from their home countries. Our goal is for Americans to realize that Mexico and other Hispanic countries are more than just stereotypes.
In our last post we gave you a list of over 90 novels appropriate for young readers. But today we’d like to highlight some books that are great reads to we, as teachers. These books heighten our knowledge in regards to some very specific cultural events as well as some general events. Here’s 4 books that you may be interested in…
1. Everything you need to know about Latino History by Himilce Novas
Latinos represent the fastest-growing ethnic population in the United States. In an accessible and entertaining question-and-answer format, this completely revised 2008 edition provides the most current perspective on Latino history in the making.
2. The Eagle on the Cactus: Traditional Stories from Mexico by Angel Vigil
This beautiful tapestry of traditional tales, history, folk arts, and dance offers you a glimpse into the living legacy of Mexican folklore. After an overview of Mexico’s history from the Mesoamerican indigenous era to modern times, Vigil explores the fascinating traditions of Oaxacan wood carving, Huichol bead and yarn art, folk masks, folklorico dance costumes, and Mexican folklore. A collection of tales follows, including classic tales, pourquoi creation tales from native people of pre-Hispanic Mexico, and tales from the Spanish colonial era of Mexican history-trickster tales, adventure and wonder stories, and animal fables. Lively reading for older students and adults, the tales may also be used for read-alouds with younger students. With 15 of the 44 tales presented in Spanish as well as in English, this is an excellent resource for Spanish classes and for Spanish-speaking readers. The fascinating background material also makes the book an excellent source for reports and research.
3. In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”
In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.
4. Cortés & Montezuma by Maurice Collis
Landing on the Mexican coast on Good Friday, 1519, Hernán Cortés felt himself the bearer of a divine burden to conquer and convert the first advanced civilization Europeans had yet encountered in the West. For Montezuma, leader of the Mexicans, April 21, 1519 (known in their sophisticated astronomical system as 9 Wind Day) was the precise date of a dire prophesy: the return of Quetzalcoatl, a fearsome god predicted to arrive by ship, from the East, with light skin, a black beard, robed in black—exactly as Cortés would. The ensuing drama is described by eminent historian Maurice Collis in a style that is equal parts story and scholarship. Though its consequences have been treated by writers as diverse as D.H. Lawrence and Charles Olson, never before have the facts of this event been rendered with such extraordinary clarity and elegance.
Any other books that you have enjoyed reading? Submit them in the comments section below!