September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month! Some 55 million people in the United States identify as Hispanic, making this the second largest ethnic group.
Why September 15 to October 15? September 15 marks the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16 while Chile’s anniversary is September 18.
According to the US government, “The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.”
In the Americas, many Hispanic people can trace their roots back to indigenous peoples. These include the Maya, Inca, Aztec, and others. Today’s Hispanics may also have roots in the Spanish explorers, the Africans who were brought to the New World as slaves, and of course many other cultures.
This provides teachers, librarians, homeschooling parents, and students many options for exploring Hispanic heritage in the Americas.
Middle Grade Novels and Nonfiction
Unfortunately, there aren’t many historical fiction novels about the Maya for young people. This National Geographic post only lists my novel, The Well of Sacrifice, and Seven Serpents Trilogy—Book 1, The Captive by Scott O’Dell as historical fiction for young people. It also lists a couple of travel books and titles on Mayan prophecy and myth.
Terra Experience has an extensive page of “Children’s Books on Mayan Culture, Guatemala, Southern Mexico, Nicaragua, and Latin America.” This site lists many books about current or historical Mayan people, plus Mayan legends and folk tales. Most of the books are for younger children, but picture books can work for middle grade students as well!
A Book In Time has a list of some Books on Early American Civilizations: Inca, Aztec, Mayan, & other Native Americans.
School Library Journal has a post from 2009 on The Aztecs, the Inca, and the Maya: Empires Lost & Found, with fiction and nonfiction for different grades, pus links to Museum Collections
To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, visit the following sites:
The National Education Association provides Lesson Plans, Quizzes, Activities and Background Resources for National Hispanic Heritage Month, Grades K-5.
The US government site for National Hispanic Heritage Month includes resources for teachers and a calendar of events, mainly in and around Washington DC.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has lesson plans and links to websites on the conquistadors, the gold rush, the US-Mexican War, prayer to Ricoh, and much more. A featured lesson plan is for Esperanza Rising: Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over (also available inSpanish).
The PBS Hispanic Heritage Month site links to episodes about famous Latinos, issues affecting immigrants, and much more.
Scholastic offers resources for celebrating the month, including information on Latinos in history and Hispanic history in the Americas. Scholastic also has Bring Hispanic Heritage Month to Life: A Collection of Resources and 24 Great Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month includes information on the history of the month, people, events, and fun facts.
Please add any recommended books or resources in the comments.
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Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.