Recommended Young Adult and Children’s Literature to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Young Adult

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Camila Hassan is a girl struggling to hold herself to her mother’s high standards at home and play her best on the fútbol field without her family knowing about her sport. Set in Argentina, Furia provides readers with secrets, romance, and a coming-of-age story for young adult readers and will be featured at this year’s festival.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land is the story of two sisters, one in New York and the other in the Dominican Republic, who find each other after their father dies tragically in a plane crash. Elizabeth Acevedo’s book will be featured in the festival this fall, and TBF will be welcoming Acevedo as a keynote speaker at the Texas Teen Book Festival on Saturday, October 31. RSVP here.

Running by Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is another author attending the 2020 Texas Book Festival to discuss her YA debut Running (RSVP here). Her book follows Cuban American teenager Mariana Ruiz as surprising information about her father is revealed in his campaign to become president. 

They Call Me Güero by David Bowles 

Texas author David Bowles’ book of poetry shares twelve-year-old Güero’s experience as a Mexican American border kid trying to navigate middle school. These poems follow Güero as he creates trouble with his misfit friends, becomes interested in girls, and spends time with his family. Bowles will also be featured at TBF 2020 to present his book Rise of the Halfling King (Tales of the Feathered Serpent #1). RSVP here!

Love Sugar Magic by Anna Meriano 

Released this February, Anna Meriano’s third book of the Love Sugar Magic series titled A Mixture of Mischief takes a turn when Leo Logroño’s long-lost abuelo becomes part of her life. With Abuelo Logroño’s return, he begins to teach Leo more about the magic of the brujas as her family’s bakery Amor y Azúcar is under threat of its new neighbor, the Honeybee bakery. RSVP here to see Meriano at this year’s TBF!


¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raúl the Third

Texas Book Festival author Raúl the Third’s latest ¡Vamos! book offers readers descriptions of Little Lobo’s favorite street food eats along with some Spanish vocabulary. RSVP for his TBF session here!

Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez

Rebecca J. Gomez is another author attending the 2020 festival. Federico and the Wolf is a Mexican American retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and it even includes Federico’s celebratory salsa recipe for readers to recreate. RSVP for Gomez’s TBF session here!

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña

My Papi Has a Motorcycle takes readers on a ride with Daisy Ramona and her papi through their neighborhood. This award-winning author and illustrator duo captures the love a daughter has for her father and for the community she has come to know. Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña will be attending the 2020 Texas Book Festival – RSVP for their session here.

Accordionly: Abuelo & Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart

When a young grandson’s Opa and Abuelo visit him at the same time, he comes up with a creative way to connect the two grandfathers who don’t speak the same language. Accordionly takes inspiration the family of author Michael Genhart, who is also a TBF author. RSVP for his session here!

When Julia Danced Bomba by Raquel M. Ortiz

When Julia Danced Bomba is the story of a girl who learned the Afro-Latino dance bomba by letting go of her control and listening to the music. Rachel M. Ortiz’s bilingual picture book connects readers to her Puerto Rican heritage and reminds them to enjoy themselves while learning new skills.

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

Inspired by the author’s childhood memories, Octopus Stew follows young Ramsey as he tries to save his grandmother from the monstrous octopus they are trying to cook for dinner. Eric Velasquez’s book has two alternate versions of events and includes his family’s recipe for octopus stew, so readers can join in the adventure. 

My Shoes and I by Rene Colato Lainez 

Just before leaving for his journey from El Salvador to the United States, Mario’s mother sends him a pair of new shoes to carry him to her. The bilingual picture book My Shoes and I tells the story of a young boy and his father crossing over three borders, mountains, and rivers to reunite their family. 

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

In her picture book memoir, Yuyi Morales tells of her migration to the United States and the meaning of the items she brought with her. Dreamers is about the author’s own dreams and the dreams of others who have left home to follow them.

Recommended reading to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Beginning on Sept. 15 and continuing into mid-October, the United States recognizes and celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. To commemorate this month, the Texas Book Festival reached out to Texas publishers to compile a list of recommended reading by Latina/o or Latinx authors. The recommendations below were provided to our team from Arte Público Press and the University of Texas Press.

Agent of Change by Cynthia Orozco

Cynthia Orozco’s book tells the story of Adela Sloss-Vento, an essayist and activist within the Mexican American civil rights movement. Agent of Change is a captivating portrait of an influential female leader, and we can’t wait to host Orozco at the 2020 Texas Book Festival.

American Tacos by José R. Ralat

Another author from our 2020 festival, José R. Ralat tracks the history and diversity of the taco across the United States. From crunchy tacos in California to breakfast tacos in Texas, Ralat details the origins and evolution of this classic Mexican street food using exciting interviews and interesting history.

Borderlands Curanderos by Jennifer Koshatka Seman

Jennifer Koshatka Seman’s book gives the history of two curanderos, or faith healers, who healed Mexicans, Indigenous people, Tejanos, and Anglos in Mexico and the South Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Apostles of Change by Felipe Hinojosa

A story about the urban crisis in 1960s American cities, Apostles of Change provides the history of Latinx activists who created a revolution against urban renewal in church communities throughout the United States. In looking deeper at movements in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston, Felipe Hinajosa explains the intersection of faith and politics and how these radicalists used that connection to create change.

Chican@ Artivistas by Martha Gonzalez

Martha Gonzalez, Grammy-winning singer of Quetzal and Chicana/o studies scholar, writes about the politics within musical, performance, and visual art that has come out of East Los Angeles since 1995. Chican@ Artivistas weaves Gonzales’ own experiences with the progression of art in this community and explores the political engagement that comes with the industry.

Reading, Writing, and Revolution by Philis M. Barragán Goetz

In Reading, Writing, and Revolution, Philis M. Barragán Goetz examines how escuelitas, grassroots Spanish-language community schools, were formed to meet the needs of Mexican Americans and later helped shape the identities of many in the United States. 

Trust Me by Richard Z. Santos

Texas Book Festival author Richard Z. Santos’s debut novel Trust Me untangles the secrets and deceptions of those Charles O’Connell meets after moving to New Mexico for a new job. This story is one of suspense and surprise, as hidden connections and schemes are unearthed with the beginning of Charles’ fresh start.

The Moths and Other Stories / Las palomillas de la noche y otros relatos by Helena María Viramontes

This bilingual collection of eight short stories follows young female characters as they come of age in Mexican American society. Helena María Viramontes’ writing deals with sexuality, oppression, and religion and shows a true understanding of the experiences of women like those in these stories.

A Latino Memoir by Gerald Poyo

Gerald Poyo’s memoir brings readers into five generations of his family’s history and migration about the Americas and his own experiences in growing up in both North and South America. A Latino Memoir explores transnationalism and its impact on Poyo’s life.

The Soledad Children by Marty Glick and Maurice Jourdane

After discovering that schools in California were using English-language IQ tests to disadvantage Mexican American students, attorneys at California Rural Legal Assistance began a journey to bring justice and equal education to these children. The Soledad Children was written by two of the attorneys that filed Diana v. State Board of Education and provides a deeper look into the inequity of classrooms across the United States.

The Paper Lawyer by Carlos Cisneros

Texas author Carlos Cisneros writes about a real-estate attorney that, after being fired from her original position for sending an email containing racial slurs, finds herself practicing social security disability law. This legal drama is a social commentary on prejudice, ethics, and immigration. 

Manhattan Tropics / El trópico en Manhattan by Guillermo Cotto-Thorner

Soon after moving to New York from Puerto Rico, Juan Marcos Villalobos realizes many differences and discriminations Puerto Ricans experience in the city. Though the book was originally published in 1951, this bilingual version from 2019 remains relevant in its description of race and class issues and cultural pride.

Recommended reading to celebrate Women’s Equality Day

On Aug. 26, the United States celebrates Women’s Equality Day in recognition of women gaining the right to vote. This year, as we look back on 100 years the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted in 1920, the Texas Book Festival has compiled a list of novels that celebrate women and explore their role through the years. 

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Author Mikki Kendall takes a look at the exclusive nature of the feminist movement in the United States by calling attention to it is forgetting. This debut collection of essays focuses on intersectionality and examines the role of feminism in issues such as educational inequality, gun violence, and poverty, among other topics.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Former First Lady Michelle Obama details her journey from early childhood to eight years in the White House in her memoir. Her story is vulnerable and honest, and it empowers readers to stand up against bullies and advocate for progress.

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Lara Prescott’s debut novel uses Boris Pasternak’s iconic Dr. Zhivago to tell the stories of female spies in the 1960s and Pasternak’s real-life muse and lover. This historical imagination reveals the power of a love story and its role in ending the Cold War.

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir explores her experiences and identities as a Chinese-American growing up in California. The award-winning author weaves her mother’s stories into her own to untangle contradictory tales of female oppression.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, Black feminist and civil rights activist, uses her collection of essays and speeches to critique the failures of second-wave feminism and draw attention to those who have been overlooked. Lorde focuses the anger in her essays toward change and hope for the better.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

In Brit Bennett’s new novel, two identical twin sisters go down two very different paths until the lives of their daughters become intertwined much later. This story tells of these women growing up and finding contrasting racial identities all the while detailing the strength of the bond between family 

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

This book of poetry by Amanda Lovelace uses the symbol of the witch to represent women, with sections titled “the trial,” “the burning,” “the firestorm,” and “the ashes.” Lovelace’s poems have been described as relatable and encouraging, and they come with a mission to uplift women to take action in their own equality.

Back to school: An intern’s favorite reads from high school

As a high school student, reading can be hard. When I was in high school, I was constantly busy with sports, events, and other classwork. Sometimes I struggled to meet reading deadlines — even though English has always been my favorite subject and is now my college degree. With the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, required reading can serve as either solace or a stressor for young adults. As I enter my senior year of college, I am looking back at what I have considered the most influential novels assigned to me in my high school years. Even though this year does not look how I expected, I find comfort in knowing I still have the opportunity to read and discuss novels that, like those below, have opened the world to readers before me.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple tells the story of two African American sisters who are separated at a young age and for twenty years live very different lives across the world from each other. Celie, who lives in rural Georgia, writes to her sister Nettie about the hardships she endures in letters that form the novel. Alice Walker’s novel is one of pain and strength and displays an unbreakable bond between sisters.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes 20 short stories inspired by his time in the Vietnam War. Each vivid and imaginative episode blurs the line between fact and fiction and avoids generalizing the experience of war. O’Brien depicts horror, longing, sadness, and even joy in his quick-paced and unforgettable book.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi’s memoir Persepolis illustrates her coming-of-age story as the Islamic Revolution takes place in Iran. The graphic novel follows Satrapi as she grows and changes with the world around her. This gripping tale of a young girl longing to find herself is important for school-age kids while remaining an interesting read for adults.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
S.E. Hinton uses powerful characters to reveal a disparity of class and violence between two groups of teens, the Greasers and Socs, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Outsiders was published as Hinton turned 18, and through time it continues to prove it is a novel for teenagers written by a teenager.

Lawson Freeman is a fall Literary Programming intern at TBF.