Spice up your reading list with some incredible Latino/a literature in Latino Books Month, which is celebrated annually in May. Held to expand the reach of Latino/a literature, this month is a great way to encounter exciting new reads in both English and Spanish. So are you ready for some amazing book suggestions?
History of Latino Books Month
While the canon known as Latino/a literature is a relatively new phenomenon, the literature itself has existed for ages, as studies have discovered. These texts were mostly written by Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans, although the literature written by Dominican Americans, U.S. Central Americans, and U.S. South Americans are now also gaining prominence. Studies also show that while Latino/a literature spans as far back as the 16th century, a different form of writing began to emerge after the political movements of the 17th century and various 19th-century texts feature exile and dissident writing.
In America, Latino/a literature gained popularity in tandem with the Civil Rights Movement, also leading to the formation of Ethnic Studies and Latino Studies programs in major American universities. These studies came about as a result of the development of programs on Chicano Studies and Puerto Rican Studies, which, in turn, were a response to student demands at the time (today, there are numerous great scholarships for Hispanic students out there). Some books studied in these programs include pathbreaking works like Sandra Cisneros’s “The House on Mango Street,” Denise Chavez’s “The Last of the Menu Girls,” and more noteworthy books. Latino/a speculative fiction, sci-fi, fantasy fiction, and Latino/a comic books are a growing genre in Latino/a literature and include interconnected issues like social justice, family, psychology, and other relevant topics.
Latino Books Month was founded by Rhode Island Latino Arts and is sponsored by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The day encourages booksellers, librarians, and teachers to promote books by and for Latino people and urge their communities to read these books.
Latino Books Month timeline
Student movements in this period demand more Latino Studies in universities.
The Hispanic Literary Heritage Project is set up to explore the publication of literature written before the 1960s.
Much of Latino/a literature is now written in English, incorporating Spanish or Spanglish.
A key feature of this period is a rapid increase of writing by and about Latinos, which coincides with the Civil Rights Movement — this leads to the formation of Latino Studies in major American universities as well.
As a direct result of the Latino/a population increase in the U.S., the contribution by Latino/a authors also increases.
Rhode Island Latino Arts initiates this month to celebrate Latino/a authors, and increase literacy among the Latino population.
Latino Books Month FAQs
Who can be considered Latino?
The term ‘Latino’ is understood to be short for the Spanish term ‘Latinoamericano’ (or the Portuguese ‘Latino-americano’) and refers to people born in or with ancestral ties to Latin America and living in the U.S.
What is Latino literature?
Works authored by people of Latin American ancestry — Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans — which is mostly but not exclusively written in the English language.
When is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 and is also called Latinx Heritage Month. It is held to celebrate the history and the contributions of Latino people to the U.S. over the years.
What are some Latino book recommendations?
Noteworthy books from this generation include Ana Castillo’s “So Far from God,” Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua’s groundbreaking feminist anthology “This Bridge Called My Back,” “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sánchez, and “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Latino Books Month Activities
Discover amazing books by Latino/a authors
Apart from the admittedly groundbreaking works by famous authors like Claudia Castro Luna, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Leroy V. Quintana, and more, there are currently multiple Latino/a genres and authors to choose from. Kids can be introduced to books by Gary Soto or Alma Flor Ada, teens can delight in authors like Andi Teran and Pam Munoz Ryan, while adults can browse works by Julia Alvarez and Sandra Cisneros.
Add a Latino/a theme to your book club
Bring a little variety to your selection of books and themes, of which one can be a month full of Latino/a literature. Discover and delight in tales from amazing new authors or delve into popular classics from previous centuries.
Host your own events celebrating this month
Promote Latino/a books and their authors by hosting your own event, either virtually or in real life. Reach out to local writers and authors from this community to host bilingual readings, plan special awareness activities, or simply post about this month (and the books you are reading) on your social media.
Facts About Latino Books Month
Meet a very famous Latino writer
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez started the Latin-American literature boom and made him one of the most famous Latino writers.
The first collection of Latino student literature
“Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature” is the first anthology with tools that offer students a chance to read, think, and write critically about these works.
Delving into Latinx culture
“Latinx Rising” is the first anthology series of its kind — a sci-fi and fantasy series about Latinos living in the U.S.
The oldest Spanish epic poem
Based on a true story, “Cantar de Mio Cid” was initially passed down by word of mouth and is believed to have been written between 1140 and 1207.
Origin of the picaresque novel
“La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades” — which was banned for its anti-clerical content — is believed by many to be the basis of the picaresque novel — an episodic style of fiction writing dealing with the adventures of a hero.
Why We Love Latino Books Month
Learn the culture
We’re sure you are exceedingly familiar with the term ‘critic’. How about ‘elbow’, or the phrase ‘wild-goose chase’? All these were coined by literary giant Shakespeare and show you just how much literature influences our world. Reading Latino books helps us learn more about the culture, which is an important step towards becoming more worldly.
Highlights bilingual literature
Not only do we learn a new language by reading Latino/a literature — many books include Spanish or Spanglish phrases — we also learn about a new culture at the same time. Latino/a literature exuberantly displays a wide range of genres for each type of reader and is now also branching out into new-age genres. Each new bilingual text opens the doors to more cultural exploration and leads us on a path to inclusivity.
Celebrating this month inspires Latino people
The world needs more diverse voices. Celebrating Latino/a books and authors provides a platform for Latino people to become writers and authors and unleash their creative talent on the world.
Latino Books Month dates