From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month(Open external link) in the United States each year. This tradition began in 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson first issued a proclamation to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Week. Later, Congress passed a bill to extend the celebration to last an entire month, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988,(Open external link) and National Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated every year since 1989. The theme for 2023(Open external link) is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We are One,” which reinforces the diversity inherent within the Hispanic community, as well as the power that comes from being a united community.
The dates for Hispanic Heritage Month were chosen to coincide(Open external link) with the Independence Day celebrations of many Latin American nations — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — that declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Chile, Mexico, and Belize also each have their own Independence Day celebrations on days throughout the month as well. All in all, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates communities with roots in 20 Latin American countries and territories(Open external link) who make up over 19% of the U.S. population.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to our nation, and especially to New York City, over the years. We also take this time to recognize the trailblazing individuals who fought for progress and equity for their communities. We encourage teachers, students, and families to explore the resources shared below to further expand their understanding of this rich and vibrant history.
The following book suggestions, listed by grade level, are a collection of new and classic titles about Hispanic and Latino history, individuals, and experiences that families and educators can read with their students in grades 3-K through 12 both during Hispanic Heritage Month and all year round. We hope you will enjoy and learn from these outstanding titles, which cover a range of cultural backgrounds, fiction and nonfiction genres, and unique perspectives.
Events and Exhibitions
- Throughout the month:
- Check out the New York Public Library’s Hispanic Heritage Month events,(Open external link) which includes activities for children of all ages such as bilingual story times, a teen book club, arts and crafts nights, and more
- NYC Parks(Open external link) is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! Enjoy art exhibits, talks, black parties, and more.
- Check out virtual exhibitions from the National Museum of the American Latino(Open external link)
- Explore all that El Museo del Barrio has to offer with events(Open external link) and exhibitions(Open external link) all year long.
- Sunday, September 17, 2023: Join in a day of fun for the whole family at the Carnaval Cultura Latina(Open external link) in Queens, which promotes the art, music, dance, and great food from Latino cultures.
- Monday, October 2 – Friday, October 6, 2023: Educators can participate in the fourth annual “Teach Central America” week,(Open external link) an initiative that encourages teaching about Central American history and culture in the classroom.
- Saturday, October 7, 2023: Attend the Panamanian Parade(Open external link) in Brooklyn, and be a part of the largest celebration of Panamanian individuals and culture outside of the country itself (12PM).
- Sunday, October 15, 2023: Ballet Hispanico is hosting Celebración Latina,(Open external link) a community celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month where there will be live music, dancing, food for local vendors, and more! Family members of all ages can attend from 1–5PM.
- The National Educator’s Association (NEA)(Open external link) has assembled resources by grade level to use for your Hispanic Heritage Month lessons and celebrations.
- Check out the New-York Historical Society’s Nueva York,(Open external link) a curriculum guide dedicated to Hispanic history in our region from 1613–1945.
- There are a number of useful resources from the Smithsonian and the National Museum of American History, including:
- The Smithsonian Learning Lab,(Open external link) which features a collection of Hispanic Heritage Month learning resources
- Lessons on the history of Latinos in baseball called ¡Pleibol!(Open external link) which is accompanied by an online exhibition(Open external link) that was previously featured in the National History Museum.
- Learning modules from the Smithsonian’s History Explorer, including A Nation of Immigrants: Latino Stories(Open external link) (grades 9-12), Latino Family Stories Through Art(Open external link) (grades 4-8), the Bracero History Archive(Open external link) (grades 6-12), and much more.
- Students can read the stories of immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, and other Latin American countries, and view objects related to the journey to America with America on the Move: Latino Stories,(Open external link) lessons from the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Students can also learn about the experiences of workers in the mid-twentieth century Bracero guest worker program.
- Teaching for Change, who host Teach Central America Week,(Open external link) have provided resources to use in the classroom during their initiative, and beyond.
- Explore digital teaching and learning resources from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.(Open external link)
- Also from Learning for Justice, learn about the how the history of school segregation impacted Latino communities in the United States by exploring primary sources from the seminal Supreme Court case Mendez v. Westminster School District, often considered a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, with their toolkit called “Why Mendez Still Matters.”(Open external link)
- Students can further engage with the Mendez case with a reenactment activity(Open external link)available on the United States Federal Courts’ website.
- Access a range of relevant K–12 lesson plans from the National Endowment for the Humanities(Open external link) on history, literature, culture, and more.
- PBS(Open external link) invites teachers and students of all grade levels to explore the history, people and issues chronicled in their series, Latino Americans, through a collection of lesson plans, videos and classroom resources based on the documentary.(Open external link)
- Embrace this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme by watching the short film “Bibi”(Open external link)alongside the accompanying learning guides from Learning for Justice on the topic of intersectionality.
- Explore a wide range of teaching resources from Facing History & Ourselves(Open external link) about Latinx history, art, and culture.
- For more information about Hispanic and Latino music, the New York Times Learning Network(Open external link) has several lessons on reggaeton, Cuban music, and the musical legend Selena.
- Teach about the Young Lords Movement(Open external link) in New York City with materials from the Museum of the City of New York.
- El Museo del Barrio has several resource guides(Open external link) available for educators to use, in addition to video and audio resources available on their website.
- The National Park Service’s American Latino Heritage Theme Study,(Open external link) available in both Spanish and English, explores Latino history and culture with essays and other resources that reflect Latino American experiences across different eras, topics, and regions throughout the United States. For more NPS resources, check out their Hispanic Heritage Month page,(Open external link) along with Telling All Americans’ Stories: American Latino Heritage,(Open external link) also available on their website.
- Students can learn more about Hispanic Americans in Congress(Open external link) with resources from the U.S. House of Representatives Archives.
- Students can access National Archives records(Open external link) related to Hispanic and Latino Heritage online to research a wide range of topics with primary sources.