Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month

Image of papel picado haging from ceiling "Danza de Papel Picado" by Eneas De Troya, used under cc by 2.0 without adapting or edit
“Danza de Papel Picado” by Eneas De Troya, used under CC by 2.0 License


The US celebrates the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans annually from September 15-October 15.  Special events and exhibitions commemorate and honor Hispanic and Latinx Americans. Visit https://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/ to find out more about celebrations at the national level.

The Pasadena Public Library offers plenty of resources and programs in celebration of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. Please visit our online calendar of events for this year’s virtual programs and explore this list of (mostly) newer titles we recommend for readers of all ages.



Image of tree on yellow background -- book coverAfterlife by Julia Alvarez

Reeling from her beloved husband’s sudden death in the wake of her retirement, an immigrant writer is further derailed by the reappearance of her unstable sister and an entreaty for help by a pregnant undocumented teen.

Image of young woman with long hair in silhouette --book coverDominicana by Angie Cruz 

The award-winning author of Soledad draws on her mother’s story in a tale set in a turbulent 1960s Dominican Republic, where a young teen agrees to marry a man twice her age to help her family’s immigration to America.

Image of large bell shaped flower facing down--book coverFruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

A novel set against the violence of 1990s Columbia follows a sheltered girl and a teen maid, who forge an unlikely friendship as the families of both struggle to maintain stability amidst Bogotá’s rapidly escalating violence.

Image of ocean waves crashing on rocks at shore--book coverCantoras by Carolina de Robertis

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find each other as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.

Image of woman with flower in hair and surrounded by flowers--book coverSabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

A debut story collection about female relationships and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands features Latina protagonists of indigenous descent who cautiously navigate the violence and changes in a Denver, Colorado community.

Image of young girl with long dark braid whose back is turned from view--book coverThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

In this latest from the author of The World in Half, the Mexican Rivera family moves to Delaware so that their brain-damaged daughter, Maribel, can attend a special school. Sharing the same neighborhood is the Panamanian Toro family, whose younger son, Mayor, becomes enamored of Maribel. As the bulk of the narrative shifts between Alma, Maribel’s mother, and Mayor, the story unwinds into a Romeo and Juliet reenactment, with both families opposing the relationship, and tragedy the unexpected result.

The Book of Unknown Americans was the 2015 One City, One Story selection.

Image of landscape with children and a chain link fence with an airplane seen behind it--book coverLost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Traces a profoundly human family summer road trip across America that is shaped by historical and modern displacement tragedies as well as a growing rift between the two parents.

Image of Pyramid, starry sky and face in profile - book coverGods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore is set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age in Mexico’s underworld, where a young dreamer is sent by the Mayan God of Death on a life-changing journey.

Image of line drawing of woman with flowers and leaves surrounding her--book coverThe Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older

Visited by an ancestral spirit who would have him unearth family secrets from the Cuban Revolution, a young Cuban-American embarks on an investigation marked by ghostly helpers, a new love, a murderous gangster and changes in his sense of identity.

Taína by Ernesto QImage of young woman holding a rose-book coveruiñonez

When Julio, a teenager living in Spanish Harlem, hears that Taina, a pregnant fifteen-year-old from his high school claims to be a virgin, he decides to believe her. Julio has a history of strange visions and his blind and unrequited love for Taina will unleash a whirlpool of emotions that will bring him to question his hard-working Puerto Rican mother and his communist Ecuadorian father, his beliefs and even the building blocks of modern science.

Image of man casting long shadow--book coverThe Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

The Shape of the Ruins is a masterly story of conspiracy, political obsession, and literary investigation. When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets; and it haunts those who feel that only they know the real truth behind these killings.



Image of silhouette of man running in natural landscape-book coverSpirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez

A debut memoir by the son of working-class Mexican immigrants describes his upbringing in Washington State, membership in the Peace and Dignity Journeys movement and competition in the Native American cultural marathon from Canada to Guatemala.


Image of young man --book coverBefore Night Falls by Renaldo Arenas

The Cuban-born novelist describes his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba, his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, his suppression as a writer, his imprisonment for his homosexuality, and his flight from Cuba.

Image of two hands holding a lit torch-book cover

How To Love a Country: Poems by Richard Blanco

A new collection from the renowned inaugural poet explores immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues and more, in accessible and emotive verses.

Image of Frida Kahlo--book coverForever Frida: A Celebration of the Life, Art, Loves, Words, and Style of Frida Kahlo by Kathy Cano-Murillo

With her colorful style, dramatic self-portraits, hardscrabble backstory, and verve for life, Frida Kahlo remains a modern icon, captivating and inspiring artists, feminists, and art lovers more than sixty years after her death. Forever Frida celebrates all things Frida, so you can enjoy her art, her words, her style, and her badass attitude every day. Viva Frida!

Image of young girl on man's shoulders carrying an American flag--book coverHarvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan González

[The updated edition] of this important study of Latinos in U.S. history, Harvest of Empire spans five centuries-from the first New World colonies to the first decade of the new millennium. Latinos are now the largest minority group in the United States, and their impact on American popular culture-from food to entertainment to literature-is greater than ever. Featuring family portraits of real- life immigrant Latino pioneers, as well as accounts of the events and conditions that compelled them to leave their homelands, Harvest of Empire is required reading for anyone wishing to understand the history and legacy of this increasingly influential group.

Image of long straight road under big blue sky with clouds-book coverCamino del Sol: 15 Years of Latino and Latina Writing ed. by Rigoberto González

Since 1994, the Camino del Sol series has been one of the premier vehicles for Latina/o literary voices. Launched under the auspices of Chicana/o luminary Ray González, it quickly established itself in both the Latina/o community and the publishing world as it garnered awards for its outstanding writing.

Featuring both established writers and first-time authors, Camino del Sol has published poetry and prose that convey something about the Latina/o experience–works that tap into universal truths through a distinct cultural lens. This volume celebrates fifteen years of books by bringing together some of the series’ best work, such as poetry from Francisco X. Alarcón, fiction from Christine Granados, and nonfiction from Luis Alberto Urrea. These voices echo the entire spectrum of Latina/o writing, from Chicana/o to Puerto Rican to Brazilian-American, and take in themes ranging from migration to gender.

cover image is ombre shades from white to very dark brownLatinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture by Ed Morales

Explains how Latin political identities are tied to the Latin American history of “mixedness”, and that this is both a key to understanding bilingual, bicultural Latin cultures and politics and a challenge to America’s black/white racism.

Image (black and white) of many people including an American flag--book coverAn African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz

Paul Ortiz delivers us the history of the United States from the viewpoint of black and brown people, from Crispus Attucks and José Maria Morelos to César Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr. The result is simultaneously invigorating, embarrassing, and essential to anyone interested in what the revolutionaries of years past can teach us about struggles for freedom, equality, and democracy today.

Image of young boy sitting-book coverUndocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

A Princeton University salutatorian describes his experiences as an undocumented immigrant youth in New York City, relating his efforts as a scholarship student in a private school that sharply contrasted with his street life in East Harlem.

Image of Sonia Sotomayor-book coverMy Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

An instant American icon–the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court–tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in an inspiring, surprisingly personal memoir. With startling candor and intimacy, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-discovery and self-invention.


Image of young girl with dark hair-book coverThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The daughter of devout immigrants discovers the power of slam poetry and begins participating in a school club as part of her effort to understand her mother’s strict religious beliefs and her own developing relationship to the world. A first novel.

Image of young woman with skull face paintLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. When a curse she performs to rid herself of magic backfires and her family vanishes, she must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland, to get her family back.

Image of boy with baseball cap and baseball glove winding up to pitch-book coverMexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña 

As a child of a Mexican father and blonde, blue-eyed mother, Danny finds it difficult that everyone thinks they know who and what he is just by the color of his skin and so goes to spend time with his father in Mexico in the hopes of getting in touch with his roots and the person he believes himself to be.

Image of papel picado with various colors -book coverWe Set the Dark On Fire  and We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

When she is asked to spy for a resistance group working to bring equality to Medio, Daniela Vargas, a student at the Medio School for Girls, questions everything she’s worked for.

Image of back of girl with long dark braid - book coverI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sánchez

When the sister who delighted their parents by her faithful embrace of Mexican culture dies in a tragic accident, Julia, who longs to go to college and move into a home of her own, discovers from mutual friends that her sister may not have been as perfect as believed.

abstract image of black shapes on yellow background-book coverMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

After enduring his father’s suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute’s memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love.

Image of woman with swirling black hair holding shoulder of young man-book coverThe Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

After escaping a detention center at the U.S. border, seventeen-year-old Marisol agrees to participate in a medical experiment hoping to keep her and her younger sister, Gabi, from being deported to El Salvador.





Image of brightly colored figures dancing around sun-book coverYes! We Are Latinos by Ama Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy [JRHI FIC]

Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino. Caldecott Medalist David Diaz’s striking illustrations capture the stories of these memorable characters—from indigenous peoples and Spanish émigrés to migrant workers and environmentalists.

Image of older woman with bag walking up snowy road toward house-book coverHow Tía Lola Came to Visit to Stay and How Tía Lola Saved the Summer by Julia Alvarez [J FIC]

Although ten-year-old Miguel is at first embarrassed by his colorful aunt, Tia Lola, when she comes to Vermont from the Dominican Republic to stay with his mother, his sister, and him after his parents’ divorce, he learns to love her. Moving to Vermont after his parents split, Miguel has plenty to worry about. Tia Lola, his quirky, “carismatica, ” and maybe magical aunt makes his life even more unpredictable when she arrives from the Dominican Republic to help out his Mami.

abstract image with arm and animal and flower and music notes and other shapes on black backgroun-book coverThe Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel [JRHI FIC]

Twelve-year-old Quijana is a biracial girl, desperately trying to understand the changes that are going on in her life; her mother rarely gets home before bedtime, her father suddenly seems to be trying to get in touch with his Guatemalan roots (even though he never bothered to teach Quijana Spanish), she is about to start seventh grade in the Texas town where they live and she is worried about fitting in–and Quijana suspects that her parents are keeping secrets, because she is sure there is something wrong with her little brother, Memito, who is becoming increasingly hard to reach.


When a man brings to a remote village two burros, Alfa and Beto, loaded with books the children can borrow, Ana’s excitement leads her to write a book of her own as she waits for the BibliBurro to return. Includes glossary of Spanish terms and a note on the true story of Columbia’s BiblioBurro and mobile libraries in other countries.

Image of cityscape with palm trees and young boy with bright yellow and orange sun rays behind them--book coverThe Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya [JRHI FIC]

Arturo’s Miami summer is marked by the arrival of poetry enthusiast Carmen, who helps him use the power of protest to fight the plans of a land developer who wants to demolish his Abuela’s restaurant.

Image of little girl with dandelion surrounded by seagulls and waves-book coverCarmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña [PICTURE BOOK]

While running errands with her older brother, Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement and at her brother’s suggestion, she tries to think of the perfect wish before she blows its white fluff away.

Image of little girl in front of colorful neighborhood view with houses and palm trees-book coverIslandborn by Junot Díaz [PICTURE BOOK]

A student in a school largely comprised of first-generation immigrants is daunted by an assignment to draw a picture of where her family came from when she cannot remember her Island origins, an effort that is supported with the memories of family and friends who help her take an extraordinary journey of the imagination back to her cultural roots.

Image of painted portrait of Sonia Sotomayor-book coverPortraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera with paintings by Raúl Colón [J NONFIC]

This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics.  Gorgeous portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.

Image of girl with long braids, jeans and tshirt, leaping across yellow background-book coverThe First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez [J FIC]

After Marâia Luisa O’Neill-Morales moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago, she violates her school’s dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurns the school’s most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded friends.

Image of father and daughter wearing helmets riding across landscape -book coverMy Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero [PICTURE BOOK]

Daisy Ramona takes a trip around the neighborhood with her father on his motorcycle and sees familiar people and places but also a community that is rapidly changing around her.

Image of woman with camera facing viewer, cactus behind her and iguana on her head-book coverPhotographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero [J NONFIC]

A blending of photographs and illustrations trace the life and work of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, who embarked on a journey across Mexico and the world.

Image of trees with silhouette of a boy; silhouette is filled with night sky (stars, comets, etc.)-book coverThe Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan [J FIC]

A fictionalized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who grew up a painfully shy child, ridiculed by his overbearing father, but who became one of the most widely-read poets in the world. Includes author’s note about the poet.

Image of Sotomayor wearing judicial robe walking up steps of US Supreme Court -book coverTurning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor [J NONFIC]

The boundary-breaking Supreme Court Justice reveals the inspiring role of books in her life, discussing how she overcame such challenges as diabetes and painful losses to become the first Latina to hold her distinguished position.

Colorful image of two children holding dripping paletas, with paleta man in background flying downhill behind his cart-book coverWhat Can You Do with a Paleta? = ¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?  by Carmen Tafolla [PICTURE BOOK]

Where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly belland carries a treasure of icy paletasin every color of the sarape . . .As she strolls through her barrio, a young girl introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer’s day–there’s so much to do with a paleta.

Image of children with book bags and books, some white in front of fancy newer-looking building, and some darker-skinned in front of simple building-book coverSeparate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh [J NONFIC]

Shares the triumphant story of young Civil Rights activist Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who, at the age of 8, worked with her parents and other community members to file a landmark lawsuit in federal district court to end segregated education in mid-20th-century California.

image of people in front of house with image of explosions and smoke in the background -book coverSoldier for Equality : José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War by Duncan Tonatiuh [J NONFIC]

Describes the life and accomplishments of Josâe de la Luz Sâaenz, who helped create the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latino civil rights organization.