September 15- October 15
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time set aside to appreciate and celebrate the diverse cultures and rich histories of the American LatinX community.
Do you have a favorite LatinX author or book? I have a few that are very popular with my students that I’d like to share. My students are from a part of New Hampshire that is not that culturally diverse, so I try to encourage them to explore literature written about cultures and by authors who are not part of the “traditional canon.”
They love The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. First of all, it’s a novel in verse, so that makes it very accessible, especially to those who think of themselves as reluctant readers (and I don’t believe there really are reluctant readers—just readers who haven’t found “their books” yet). It’s a super coming-of-age story that grapples with social issues in a sensitive and real way.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is also wildly popular; the novel is historical nonfiction, and it recounts events that happened to the Mirabel sisters under the Trujillo regime. Brutally honest narratives tend to grip students’ imaginations, and this text certainly succeeds.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a beautiful book; poignant, rich, and, at times, deeply philosophical. It is a coming-of-age story not just for the main character, but also of a time in history, as well.
I also like to introduce my students to a wide variety of LatinX poets, some I have met and know personally, and others I deeply admire. The Academy of American Poets curates a really good list to start with every year.
One phenomenal collection I really love is Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem. It is a tour de force, and for someone like me who definitely did not grow up in a diverse area of the world, and for my students, some of her poems really rock the world. I am particularly fond of her poem, “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation.”
If you have suggestions for high school students in particular, or for any of the rest of us (!), to read, please pass them along. I’d love to highlight some “readers’ favorite poems” this month!