Like many Latina mothers in the United States, I also want my children to learn about the richness of their Hispanic heritage. Not only for bilingual language development but to reinforce that important element that is part of who they are. In fact, studies have shown that children with a strong awareness of their own cultural identity revealed higher self-esteem and fewer social and mental problems.
When I was expecting my first child, a friend asked me how I was going to teach my child about her heritage. The question overwhelmed me because I didn’t know the answer. At that time, my family lived in an area where we didn’t have access to multicultural experiences. This challenge inspired me to be creative and plan effective ways to introduce culture to my little one. For many years, we did it by cooking ethnic meals, dancing to traditional music, and reading some fabulous children’s books.
It has been a rewarding experience to see my now eight-year-old embrace her Hispanic heritage. Throughout the years, she has had several opportunities to travel to Ecuador and the travel has provided an easy connection with the traditions. Unfortunately, traveling is not always suitable for my family, so books are usually my next favorite resource. Below, find four favorite picture books that I enjoy reading to my children and spark great conversations between us.
A Bailar!/ Let's Dance! by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin
My Very Own Room/Mi Propio Cuartito by Amada Irma Perez
Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America by Lulu Delacre
There are more great children books to help you teach heritage to your children. You can find more suggestions on my Pinterest Board.
Linda Lopez-Stone is a Latina mom of three, a bilingual writer and a Latino advocate. Her site, HispanicMama.com, serves as a platform for Latina moms (and Latinas de corazón) raising bilingual and multicultural children while trying to preserve their heritage. You can connect with Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.