10 Great Reads in Hispanic Literature

Although we focused on a few biographies and autobiographies for our HHM: Festival of Books Reading Lists this year, we realize that there are countless great reads by Hispanic authors that document or explore the Latino experience. So we wanted to share just a few of these fantastic works. Some are classics, while others aren’t, but either way, we’d love to hear what other book titles you’d include!

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz
(Also 50% off on Google Play)

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
by Julia Alvarez
(Also 50% off on Google Play)

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
(Also 50% off on Google Play)

Dreaming in Cuban
by Cristina García
(Also 50% off on Google Play)

Like Water for Chocolate
by Laura Esquivel

Daughter of Fortune
by Isabelle Allende

When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir
by Esmeralda Santiago

STILL DREAMING: My Journey from the Barrio to Congress

by Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

A Tale of Survival
by Grace Flores-Hughes

NEWYORICANGIRL…Surviving my Spanglish Life
by Julia Torres Barden

Book Review: An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

by Magdalena Zenaida

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero has all the qualities of an excellent picture book with the basic literary and historical components to teach a whole lesson plan unit! The gorgeous illustrations by Gaston Hauviller and a sprinkle of Spanish phrases written by José Martí himself, guides young readers to understand his life from Cuba to New York City as a teacher, poet, and fighter for education equality for all.

My six year old and I used a map to locate all the countries where José Martí lived, we practiced reading Spanish aloud, and discussed a little of Cuba’s history. We also watched a Celia Cruz video to listen to Guantanamera, a very famous song that José Martí’s Versos Sencillos inspired. I caught myself singing the phrases as they are beautifully and perfectly weaved into the story!

Note: The book is not a literal translation, but rather one that conveys the meaning of the poem.

The book is probably best suited for ages 8 and up but, my son and I took the opportunity to use clues in the sentences to decipher challenging vocabulary. I also had to stop briefly to discuss phrases such as “freedom of speech” and “exile.” Nevertheless, as a believer of using picture books to teach some of life’s toughest lessons inside and out of the classroom, books like Zenaida’s do just that with a bonus of teaching children about prominent and notable Latino authors like José Martí.

Disclosure: A digital copy of this book was provided for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers “find the positive and seek the benefits” over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Photo credits: mikifoto by mallika malhotra

HHM Reading Craft Tutorial: A Book Inspired Collage

The following is a guest post by artist and blogger, Denise Cortes, from PearMama.com.

As an artist and a mother with a large family, the way I’ve shared my love of reading with my six children is through art. It’s actually the only way I know how to show them. I feel that incorporating a visual picture along with storytelling is what makes the story really come alive. This makes children eager and excited to read!

I’ve incorporated this powerful learning tool during our homeschooling journey — it’s how I learned to love reading myself. As a young girl, one of my favorite things to do was draw a picture to illustrate my favorite part of the story. I didn’t realize exactly what I was doing at the time, I just knew I loved doing it. I began using whatever was on hand — crayons, markers, pencil, pen and ink. As I grew older and began creating art in earnest, I continued to tell a story in my own way, only now I used paint, oil pastels and cut paper.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and Latinas for Latino Lit’s Festival of Books, my daughter and I created a paper collage that was inspired by one of our favorite books, Calavera Abecedario, a Day of the Dead Alphabet Book.

Do you want to learn how to make your own collage project inspired by your favorite story? It’s easy.

Choose whatever book inspires you. My family loves Dia de los Muertos and we love the artist Jeanette Winter, so I knew we would be inspired by something within the pages. Read a story with your child and then ask, what was your favorite part of the story? Who was your favorite character? Use that as a starting point.

My 9 year-old daughter Maya was interested in the “M” for mariachi. She loves music and singing, so it made perfect sense. Drawn to the colorful guitar, we got started on our collage. If you want to recreate a page in your favorite book, do it. If you want to make up your own design, go ahead and do that. Maya wanted to make a “girl mariachi,” so we got started on our craft.

A collage is the process of cutting paper and assembling it to make something else. In this project, we cut paper to create our own female mariachi singer, complete with a guitar.

I’ve discovered that it’s more manageable for kids to draw the shapes with a pencil first, and then cut them out with scissors after. I encouraged Maya to sketch her guitar shape and then we flipped it over so you couldn’t see any pencil lines after we cut it out. It can be a challenge, but kids need to practice drawing in order to become better at it. Once Maya could see her guitar taking shape, she was excited!

The next step is cutting out shapes, gluing them down on paper and repeating the process until you make the design come to life.

While we were creating this collage, we talked about mariachis and the kind of music they make. I explained to her the tradition of mariachi music at family celebrations like weddings and quinceañeras and the growing number of female mariachi singers. We even listened to a few songs on Pandora, so she could get an idea of what the music sounded like.

Maya needed some help cutting a few of her pieces, and of course I obliged. I also helped her sketch the shape of the calavera.

Once all of the main shapes were down on paper, it was a lot of fun to add the special touches, like guitar strings, stars, and flowers in the calavera’s hair. You can apply these same steps to your own collage.

I love the way it turned out, don’t you?

Maya spent special attention to the skirt on the mariachi. You can tell she spends a lot of time sketching fashion designs with her little sister.

This project is a great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your family. It gives parents and children the opportunity to share a love of reading with their family, as well as teaching them to tap into their creative side.


Denise Cortes is a native of Southern California. This Latina mom loves to share stories about life with a large family and how she made it through six pregnancies, four home births, extended breastfeeding and now, homeschooling. Denise is passionate about the creative spirit as a means of cultivating self-worth in children. Denise blogs at www.pearmama.com, where she shares fun DIY projects, modern art for kids, and her children–four sons (16, 14, 13, & 11) and two daughters (8 & 9). Denise is also a regular contributor at BabyCenter andMamiverse. You can also follow Denise on Pinterest , Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

VIDEO: Hangout with Author Manuel Roig-Franzia

Google+ Hangout with Manuel Roig-Franzia, author of The Rise of Marco Rubio for L4LL Hispanic Heritage Month: Festival of Books

By: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Amigos, we are happy to announce the L4LL Hispanic Heritage Month: Festival of Books Google+ Hangout with Manuel Roig-Franzia, author of The Rise of Marco Rubio. Click here to view the Google+ event page where you will find a link to the hangout on Wednesday, 9/25/2013 from 12 noon to 12:30P EST.

Click below to watch the video:

The Giveaway:

Manuel is also generously offering 2 autographed copies of his book — one in English and the other in Spanish to two L4LL readers.

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us if you’d prefer a copy in English or Spanish (and make sure to leave a way for us to contact you!).

This giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

L4LL’s HHM Weekend Book Club Discussion Questions: Week 1

We really are psyched about the great discussion questions that our Weekend Book Club discussion leaders have posted on Facebook. It was suggested that perhaps we embed them in a single post where everyone can comment on them more easily without having to scroll through our Facebook page. We thought that was a great idea, so every Tuesday, we’ll be doing a recap of the weekend discussion questions. We’d love for you to join the discussions!

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Discussion led by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

Unbreakable by Jenni Rivera
Discussion led by Betty Velasco Galvan

Latina Legacies by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol

Discussion led by Ezzy Guerrero-Languzzi

Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno

Discussion led by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

L4LL’s HHM Reading Kits for Kids

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve selected three Latino children’s books that feature famous Latinos, and have created reading kits for each one.

Each HHM Reading Kit comes with a hardback or paperback book, art supplies, and a 15-page booklet of worksheets that reinforce reading comprehension and teach valuable skills in areas like spelling, vocabulary development, geography skills, and more. Below is a visual sampling of pages from each kit.

You can purchase individual reading kits, or all three and save 20%.

Each kit comes with activities suitable for children in Kindergarten…

through 4th grade.

To purchase your kit, visit our Reading Kits product page.

Happy learning!

2013 #Latism Best Education Blog

Photo by @MyFriendBetty

By: Viviana Hurtado Ph.D.

Familia, we humbly announce that our fledgling Latinas for Latino Lit won 2013’s Latinos In Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) Best Education blog for the work we are doing launching the first online, nationwide Latino children’s summer reading program. My partner Monica Olivera and I accepted this award at the fifth annual LATISM conference and awards ceremony in New York City. We share this recognition with the nearly 700 families, almost 1,500 kids who participated from 38 states, Puerto Rico, 8 other countries, and a military base in Germany.

Vision, passion, and conviction can spark change. But resources sustain it. L4LL is forever grateful to our naming sponsor Google, and our partners Plaza Familia, LATISM, latinamom.me, Boden PR, Delta Dental, Bebé Lanugo, PBS Kids, Monarca Language, Pa’lante Latino, MommyMaestra, and The Wise Latina Club. When we shared our idea and asked you to step up, you dove right in!

As if the award didn’t make our hearts sing, our panel “Promoting Literacy Within The Latino Community” was jam-packed with parents, teachers, business and nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and librarians. Moderated by lioness of a mother Lisa Quinones-Fontanez of Autism Wonderland, Aurora Anaya Cerda, founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore bringing accessibility and knowledge to the heart of Spanish Harlem’s barrio, and online education pioneer Harlyn Pacheco, CEO and co-founder of Qlovi, our discussion focused on creative ways to engage and reach Latino students and families. We asked how can we use technology to acquire a solid education and unlock the ensuing and endless social and economic possibilities. We gave shout outs to organizations bringing books, authors, and learning where Latinos are, whether it is the laundry mat, the local market, or YouTube because research shows Hispanics want their kids to achieve in school but don’t know how. The traditional, mainstream publishing industry may be in trouble. Yet the desire for books, knowledge, and opportunities for authors are endless with the opportunities technology affords.

Education is the great equalizer, even more so for immigrants. Our country’s strength will be measured by the success of these kids. Encouraged by this recognition, grateful for your support, we commit to staying the course as we attempt to strengthen families, communities, and our country through access to improving literacy rates and educational achievement.

We normally sign off with ¡A leer! Let’s read!

Today we add a simple and sincere thank you! ~Viviana and Monica

Google Play Celebrates HHM with 50% Off {Giveaway}

As our naming sponsor, Google’s support has allowed us to bring you a lot of great resources and opportunities this month, such as our reading lists, Google Hangouts with Latino authors, our HHM reading kits, and a variety of giveaways. But we are most excited about this particular opportunity.

L4LL has partnered with Google Play to help them with the creation of a collection of Latino literature titles that it is being showcased on the Google Play Books homepage. And guess what? Most of the titles on our HHM: Festival of Books Adult Reading list are included. ¿Y sabe qué más? In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Google Play is offering these titles at 50% OFF!

But wait! It gets even better.

Because we want our readers to be able to access these and other titles (you can see a small sample in the image above), we are giving away one Nexus 7 tablet to one lucky L4LL reader!

And did you know that Google is having its 15th anniversary this month? (Seriously, gente, can you believe they are only 15 years old?!?) So to celebrate, Google has donated some Google Play gift cards to L4LL. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

SO, therefore we are pleased to announce these amazing giveaways:

1) As mentioned above, one L4LL reader will receive a Nexus 7 tablet plus $100 worth of gift cards to Google Play.

2) NINE (9!) other L4LL readers will also receive $100 worth of gift cards to Google Play.

It’s true. We’re giving away $1000 worth of Google Play gift cards! ¡Qué locura! You can totally wallow in all the Latino lit titles that Google has to offer and then some.

To enter, all you have to do is use the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

#L4LL HHM: Festival of Books Tech Giveaway

Chrombook and tablet giveaway
Last summer we had a few requests from adults who wanted to enter to win the Nexus 7 tablets or Chromebooks. So we are happy to announce that for our HHM: Festival of Books, readers of all ages can enter to win one these fabulous prizes donated by our sponsor, Google! The video book report will be archived in the L4LL YouTube channel.

To enter, you must choose a book from one of our HHM Reading Lists (adults must choose a book from the Adult Reading List and vice versa!) and submit a video book report of no more than 3 minutes to us. Winners will be chosen at random.

For a complete description of how to enter this HHM Tech Giveaway and submit your video, please click on the link below:

HHM Tech Giveaway Resources:

L4LL Hispanic Heritage Month: Festival of Books: Google+ Hangout with Manuel Roig-Franzia, author of The Rise of Marco Rubio

by Viviana Hurtado

I met Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia at a book party for The Rise of Marco Rubio. It was very fancy schmancy DC–a lotta business cards being exchanged and air kisses of government and media big wigs. This is Hollywood for Ugly People.

But then the V.I.P.s left and afterwards, Manuel joined a couple of stragglers (to not say groupies) and went for a late dinner and drinks.

Super down to earth, our group chatted late into the night, and I learned how observant to every last detail Manuel is–knowing for example that his favorite vintage of Pinot Grigio which is not on the menu is located in a secret compartment unknown to staff. Manuel’s curiosity, attention to detail, and old-fashioned, burn-shoe-leather-and-leave-no-stone-unturned-reporting prepared him well to write a critically-acclaimed and definitive biography of Marco Rubio.

This is important because Senator Rubio’s presidential ambitions are no secret. But in this media and political culture where the message is clearly controlled and defined by campaigns, publicists, parties, who really is the man who could become the first President of Latino ancestry? This is important because the interest of handlers may not necessarily be that of a whole country.

Delving deep into a past to illuminate the present and future, bringing out dimension, breadth, and depth is the job of a journalist, something increasingly rare in a culture that values blow-dried looks, quoting scanner traffic, and tweeting as reporting.

Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) is proud to announce our first Hispanic Heritage Month: Festival of Books Google Hangout with Manuel who kicks off our Wednesday hangouts during this event from 12 noon to 12:30 PM EST. If you miss the hangout, check the L4LL YouTube channel where the interview will be archived.

UPDATE: This Google Hangout has been rescheduled. We’ll post the new time here when it is available. Thank you!