Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
A note from AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus
Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’ que tú lo sepas! And National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures, languages, identities and contributions of the more than 62.5 million Latinos in the United States whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and South and Central America. Since our country’s founding, Latinos have made significant social, artistic, cultural, educational, literary, political and economic contributions to American life. Latinos have proudly enriched our nation’s competitiveness, culture and prosperity throughout generations.
As the first Latina, and proud Puerto Rican, serving as the executive vice president of the AFT, I know firsthand the importance of having literature that reflects our students lived experiences and culture.
Over the years, the AFT and First Book have distributed hundreds of thousands of books highlighting Hispanic authors, characters and cultures—including Spanish and bilingual titles. Through our partnership, we have supported school libraries, back-to-school efforts, citizenship clinics, community fairs and large-scale resource distributions in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and other places to provide high-quality books, school supplies and basic-needs items to low-income and underserved communities. And this year, through the AFT’s Real Solutions for Kids and Communities initiative, we’re expanding our partnership with First Book, Reading Universe, WETA and the Barksdale Institute to help teachers access the best evidence-based reading instructional practices. So while others ban books, we will be giving away 2.5 million books by 2024, including books that reflect our students’ diverse cultures.
Join me as we celebrate our culture, nuestra herencia, our diversity and our strength by creating joyful and confident readers with books from your local library or the First Book Marketplace.
Check out First Book’s Latinx Characters & Culture collection.
If you're not a First Book member yet, sign up for free today at www.firstbook.org/AFT. Registration is free and takes about 5 mins.
Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with Colorín Colorado
Colorín Colorado celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with dynamic booklists, classroom activities and multimedia resources. These are great materials for the curriculum year-round! Colorín Colorado, co-produced by the AFT and PBS station WETA since 2004, continues to be the premier, national what-works-for-ELLs resource for teachers, school staff and families of English language learners. Colorín Colorado offers concrete ideas, a deep archive of research-based articles, in-classroom video, expert advice and much more (like parent literacy tip sheets in 16 languages!). For Spanish-speaking educators and families, please visit Colorín Colorado en Español. The reach of Colorín Colorado continues to be substantial. In 2022, the site served nearly 4.6 million users. Please visit our page on Hispanic Heritage Month for Latinx author interviews and classroom activities, and navigate the rest of the website for high-quality, research-based and best practices information for your professional learning and classroom practices that work!
Use this curated collection from Share My Lesson to commemorate the histories, cultural richness and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans with your students during National Hispanic Heritage Month. These preK-12 activities, lesson plans and classroom resources will help students engage with different traditions, foods, music and stories—and will empower students to recognize the value in all cultures, fostering a community where differences can be celebrated.
Read-alouds are a great way to share stories with your students this month! It’s important for students to see themselves and identify with the authors, issues or themes being covered in the books they are reading. Here are some tips to have a successful read-aloud both in and out of the classroom.
Tip 1: Choose Your Read-Aloud Space
Find a cozy space for you and your students to read together. Creating positive reading experiences is important to cultivating connection and a love for reading with students. Choosing a read-aloud space that your students usually gravitate to, like an area of the room with comfortable chairs, is always a good choice. If this type of space does not already exist in your classroom, try getting student input on how to rearrange the classroom during read-aloud time to create a positive atmosphere.
Teaching virtually? Educators can still cultivate a great online environment by establishing a mindfulness routine to get ready for read-aloud time. Encouraging a short visualization of the material that is about to be read before jumping into it allows kids to clear their minds and get ready for read-aloud time.
Tip 2: Encourage Questions
While the highlight of a read-aloud is obviously the top-notch voice acting skills of the educator, encourage your students to engage with the text as well. Let children ask questions in real time if a concept or theme comes up that needs more explanation. If stopping to take questions in real time does not work for your class flow, encourage kids to write their questions in a journal to ask following the read-aloud.
Tip 3: Choose the Parts of the Books You Would Like to Focus On
Do not feel pressured to finish an entire book aloud. Choose the specific parts of the book that you would like to explore with your class as a group. Is there a very engaging dilemma that the protagonist has now encountered that you want to break down more? Have you noticed the title starts off a bit slower and is not as engaging to students? These are all moments to have a read-aloud.
Reading aloud is a great way to encourage family interaction and family literacy! Select titles (or portions of titles) that are meaningful to your students and families that can be read before bed or during family time. Encourage the use of bilingual titles that support the home language.