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Let’s Diversify Our Shelves! Hispanic YA Literature

By Appraisingpages @appraisjngpages

September 15th marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month! September 15th was chosen because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The countries of Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period. During this time we recognize the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States, and what better way to honor these contributions then by reading great books written by Hispanic and Latino authors! I am a big fan of YA and for this blog I want to highlight some of my favorite YA Hispanic and Latino books. These books not only focus on the lives of young Hispanics and their everyday struggles, but they also highlight their heritage and culture.

Let’s Diversify Our Shelves! Hispanic YA Literature
Woman Hollering Creek: and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros is one of my favorite books of all time. This collection of short stories focuses on the lives of Mexican women on both sides of the border. The stories cover a wide variety of characters and focus on childhood, adolescence and the adulthood of Mexican American women. Mixing modern images with Mexican folklore, Sandra Cisneros manages to bring forth a very honest and heart wrenching portrayal of Mexican American women.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is a more recent work of Hispanic YA literature. This story focuses on the life of Piddy Sanchez, a Latina teen who becomes the target of the school bully named Yaqui Delgado. Yaqui thinks that Piddy is not only stuck up, but that she is not Latin enough what with her good grades, white skin and lack of an accent. At first, Piddy does her best to ignore Yaqui, but as the harassment begins to escalate Piddy has no choice but to show Yaqui what she is really made of. This story focuses on the concepts of race and the dangers of bullying.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
The Evolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano takes place in Spanish Harlem in 1969. Fed up with the way that Puerto Ricans are being treated in “El Barrio”, The Young Lords , a Puerto Rican activist group, dump garbage on the street and set it on fire. This begins a powerful protest and Evelyn Serrano’s family is caught in the cross hairs. This story uses actual news accounts from the time period to bring this time period and Evelyn’s struggles to life.

We Were Here
We Were Here by Matt De La Peña tells the story of young Miguel who is sent to live in a group home known as “The Lighthouse”. Miguel is also sentenced by a judge to write in a journal which allows the reader to see everything from Miguel’s eyes. In the group home Miguel meets other misfits and they soon plan an escape. While on the run Miguel learns a great deal about himself, his friends and life itself. We Were Here is a great read for anyone who has ever felt like they couldn’t come back from a mistake.

When Reason Breaks
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez tells the story of two young girls and their struggles with depression. Elizabeth Davis is a Goth girl whose recent family troubles have caused her to lash out at everyone around her. Emily Delgado is a great student with great friends and family, but as her depression worsens she has no one to turn to. Both girls are students in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they find solace within the poetry of Emily Dickinson. With the help of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and each other, these girls learn to conquer their own demons. This read has a very diverse cast of character’s and shows how depression comes in many forms.

Want some more Hispanic and Latino reads? Check out the We Need Diverse Books campaign “Where to Find Diverse Books” page.

Also, check out what these YA authors have to say about diverse books:

Have any Hispanic or Latino books that are your favorite? Have you read any of these books? Leave your comments below!

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