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Exploring Our Latino Roots

by Elida Guardia Bonet

Children should know their origins and be proud of their heritage. We should all know where we come from and who we are so that we can concentrate on our goals for the future. We must also get to know those around us, for that is how a stranger becomes a friend.

Many of the books recommended below are collections of short stories. Choose the ones to which your patrons will best relate.

Books to Display or Book Talk

  • Americanos: Latino Life in the United States by Edward James Olmos, Lea Ybarra, and Manuel Monterrey.
  • De oro y esmeraldas: mitos, leyendas y cuentos populares de Latinoamérica by Lulu Delacre.
  • The Emerald Lizard: Fifteen Latin American Tales to Tell by Pleasant De Spain.
  • Fitting In by Anilu Bernardo.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
  • An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio by Judith Ortiz Cofer.
  • Stories from Latin America by Genevieve Barlow.
  • Stories that Must Not Die by Juan Sauvageau.
  • Sweet Fifteen by Diane González Bertrand.


Display arts and crafts from various Spanish-speaking countries.

Bulletin Board

Ask a travel agent for posters and brochures for different Spanish-speaking countries, or buy them from catalogs for Spanish teachers, such as Teachers’ Discovery and Carlex. Contact information for these vendors are included in the list of distributors here.


  • Read "Roots, A Tree for César Chávez" in Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón.
  • Read "We are Trees" in From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón.
  • Read "Why Am I So Brown?" in Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States edited by Lori M. Carlson.

Storytelling Audiotape

Let the teens listen to a story such as "Peanut Man" and the "Magnolia Tree" from the audiotape Growing up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia by Carmen Agra Deedy.


Select a play in You’re On! Seven Plays in English and Spanish by Lori M. Carlson. (Each play is presented in Spanish and English.)



Let the young adults work as a group on this project.


  • Butcher paper
  • Paint or markers
  • Scissors


Bring out books with pictures by muralists such as Diego Rivera or José Clemente Orozco. Let the youths plan and execute a design and hang it in the young adult area of the library.

Map and Flags

Copy the maps of Central America and South America and the flags available here. Give one of each to the students. Show them books and web sites about flags and let them color the flags and match them to the country.

Guest Presenters

Invite someone in your community who is from a Spanish-speaking country to talk about his or her country of origin, show arts and crafts, and possibly share some typical foods.

Invite storytellers to present stories from Spanish-speaking countries.

Web Sites

Program for Elementary School Aged Children | Distributors / Publishers of Bilingual or Spanish Books

Page last modified: March 2, 2011