Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with #LatinoLit
I read a post on Powerful Latinas today and another on News Taco that got me thinking. How do others value Hispanic heritage during this month long celebration? Do they see it as a learning opportunity? Do they educate their children? Do they talk about politics, history, culture, language? In our home, one of the first considerations for Hispanic Heritage Month is literature. There is absolutely no better way to gain a broad knowledge of Hispanic heritage, than through Latino Literature.
When I was in college, I had to read a lot of Latino Lit and I honestly didn’t understand the point of some of the books or films that we studied. We had to conduct thorough analysis and peer reviews. We were pushed to dig deep into the stories, discover hidden messages and examine why the authors found it important to create these works. I didn’t realize how much of an impact my studies had at the time, but that experience really made me think about things I hadn’t thought of before. It helped me to see the back story of Hispanic heritage and why it’s such an important topic for every individual who lives in this country. Literature helped me to understand a range of elements that affect Latino identity and the strength of la familia latina. It helped me to realize that Latino history and culture isn’t one dimensional and that it has impacted our greater American culture in immeasurable ways. Most of all, it gave me an appreciation for history and taught me why history is so important in modern culture and what Literature can do for our youth when they are in a position where they can access it. Literature educates, it broadens our perspectives and it empowers individuals by telling the stories that we’d once believed were only ours. It’s a key component of Hispanic heritage that should be encouraged even after this month has passed.
History and heritage. Wikipedia’s definition of heritage is probably the simplest and most fitting, “Heritage refers to something inherited from the past.” Heritage is our history, our language, our political and economic challenges, our cultural traditions, our belief systems and our values. Heritage is everything that makes us who we are…a compilation of our experiences and the influences that have been weaved into the social fabric of our families and our personal identities. Celebrating heritage means celebrating all these things and it means bringing to life all the elements that we may not acknowledge daily as part of our routine. All of these elements can be found in literature and I think that makes it a very powerful tool for rediscovering heritage.
Some Literature Resources
- Florida Dept. of Education – Hispanic Heritage Month 2011 Recommended Reading List
- Latinoteca - Hispanic Literature
- Latino Fiction Amazon eStore
- Julio Varela’s #LatinoLit Directory
- Latin Baby Book Club blog and eStore
- MommyMaestra – Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month
- A great list of resources on the Tiki Tiki blog