From September 15 to October 15, the U.S. observes Hispanic Heritage Month. Coincidentally, our neighbors to the immediate south also celebrate their independence day on September 16. Come visit the library and take a look at our books on display that illustrate the richness of the history and culture of the many Spanish-speaking nations just below our own (not to mention those books that take place right here), and make sure to ask your librarians for even more recommendations.
Bonus: Casti Library’s Pinterest account features a board called Trips Around the World with stories that take place in many countries all over the globe. You can take a look at it here.
Visually minded readers might take a look at some of our many books about Mexican and Aztec art, including biographies and coffee table books about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. If what’s on display isn’t enough, venture into the stacks around number 759 and see what you find.
In Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Naomi runs away and crosses the border to find her father, who is in Mexico. Ryan’s other popular books for middle schoolers include Esperanza Rising and Riding Freedom.
Chile’s standout novelist is Isabel Allende, who grew up the cousin of Salvador Allende, who was president of Chile from 1970 to 1973. Read her books if you love magic realism and epic sagas that follow families for generations. Some of her most famous titles are The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna.
And don’t forget the man famous for writing love letters to ordinary things! Poet Pablo Neruda is most famous for his odes, but he also wrote surrealist works, epic sagas, and political manifestos. The library’s collection offers titles in English and Spanish, ranging from biographies on the poet to his own work.
You haven’t read magical realism if you haven’t read Gabriel García Márquez. He has won countless awards, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. The library has many of his titles in translation and also a few in the original Spanish, like Cien años de soledad (100 Years of Solitude), if you’d like to practice your language skills.
Julia Alvarez is a popular author for adults, teens, and children. Her titles include Before We Were Free, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, and Once Upon a Quinceañera. One of her books, In the Time of the Butterflies, was also adapted into a film. Read Alvarez’s work if you’re a fan of historical fiction.
Alma Flor Ada, a bestselling author, has written memoirs about her childhood in Cuba and has published collections of folktales. Read her if you like true stories or if you only have time for a quick read. Some of the titles available in the library include Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba and Yes! We Are Latinos.
In Marge Pellegrino’s Journey of Dreams, Tomasa’s family gets separated when a massacre happens in their village. They begin a dangerous journey north, through Mexico and up to the U.S., where they hope to find sanctuary. Though the book is fiction, it reflects the many true stories of families that had to escape Guatemala’s scorched earth campaign.
If you like literary short stories or poetry, pick up something by Judith Ortiz Cofer, who has won awards as varied as the Pura Belpré (for children’s and YA fiction by Latin@ authors) and the O. Henry Prize (for short stories). Titles available in the library include An Island Like You and A Love Story Beginning in Spanish.
Francisco Jimenez’s autobiographical fiction tells the story of life as a migrant worker from the perspective of a child growing into a teen. The Circuit, Breaking Through, and Reaching Out are good reads for anyone interested in history or social justice.
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe García McCall tells the story of Lupita, the oldest daughter in an immigrant family. She narrates her experiences dealing with her mother’s cancer, her younger siblings, and her desire to go to college through poems.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a modern classic. Using the Latin American tradition of magical realism and incorporating the trope of the Mexican curandera, or healer, this novel is about the life of Antonio Marez, who grows up in New Mexico.
In The House of the Scorpion, you’ll enter Opium, the nation between the United States and Mexico. This thrilling and chilling dystopian novel by Nancy Farmer incorporates the cultures, histories, and politics of the two nations that built this third country, and it’s perfect for fans of futuristic and dystopian fiction.
There are far too many fantastic books to name them all! Make sure you visit us in the library all month long for new ones.