From September 15th through October 15th we celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans to our country in National Hispanic Heritage Month. It is no secret that this country was changed for the better because of the contributions of Hispanic Americans. Today, 55 million people, or 17% of the American population, are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multicultural customs of their community. (Source).
As a professional writer and book coach, I love reading books from diverse authors. This month, let’s honor the contributions of just a couple of the greatest Hispanic writers that have impacted our culture.
Julia Alvarez was born in New York City to two Dominican parents who immigrated to the United States to escape the dictatorship of Trujillo in the early 1950’s. Her initial stay was not long as her parents did not adjust well to their new life in America. They left after only three months and returned to their country, but they were later forced to leave again in 1960 at the risk of being murdered by an evil regime.
She began to write about her experience of growing up in America as an immigrant but found the process of writing a challenge because her she came from an oral culture where they didn’t write things down. Not to mention that she could barely speak let alone write the English language. But she kept going and in 1991 published her first book: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. It’s the story of her family’s escape from the Dominican Republic when her father tried to overthrow an evil dictator, and their assimilation into American culture. The book was an instant success and was selected as a “Notable Book” by both the New York Times and the American Library Association. It won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for books with a multicultural perspective and was chosen by New York Librarians as one of twenty-one classics for the twenty-first century.
Her most recent nonfiction book, Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA, also gives autobiographical information on her own coming of age in The
United States and on finding her voice as a woman and as an American writer. (Source)
Sandra Cisneros is an activist poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, and artist. Born in Chicago, IL and a writer of over 50 years, she explores the lives of the working-class in her work.
Her coming of age novel, The House on Mango Street, reflects the journey of a young Latina girl who grows up on the streets of Chicago and finds her way into woman- and adulthood. This book has sold over 6 million copies, been translated into more than 20 languages and is required reading in elementary, high school, and university curricula across the United States. A winner of many awards and accolades, Sandra Cisneros, has made her impact on American culture and helped to bridge the gap of understanding and acceptance of those who come from the Latin culture. (Source)
Ways To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
There are many ways that you can celebrate this wonderful culture. Start by picking up a book by one of the authors mentioned earlier or learn about how Hispanics have influenced our culture through food, arts, music and film. The contributions are countless, and our country wouldn’t be where we are today without them. For more information on ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, check out these fun ideas!