Monday, September 26, 2016

4 Picture Books to Teach Hispanic Heritage to Your School-Age Children

The following is a guest post by my new friend Linda Lopez-Stone of HispanicMama.com.

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

The warm story about Marita and her mother captures well the importance of dance in the Hispanic culture and how it can strengthen communities. When dancing with my children, I often enjoy repeating Marita’s mom counsel: "Listen to the claves, the bongos, and the cowbells. Listen to the maracas, the timbales, and the güiro, they will tell you how to move your shoulders, your hips, your feet."



Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin

This book is a great resource to explain how soccer is a strong cultural component for most of the people in Latin America. The story touches many social problems that Latino countries have to deal with, such as poverty, gender equality, and child labor.




My children were captivated by the colorful illustrations of this bilingual book. The engaging story helped me to explain my children the importance of extended families in our culture and how poverty and immigration impact us all.




I absolutely love this book! It has helped me to teach my children some traditional nursery rhymes that I had forgotten. The catchy songs take me back to my own childhood and initiate conversations of heritage and traditions.

There are more great children books to help you teach heritage to your children. You can find more suggestions on my Pinterest Board.

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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.

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