by David Row
I once had a professor say that it wasn’t enough to learn about a culture by reading facts, figures, and statistics. This professor assigned novels written by members of certain communities so that we could hear stories and see the culture through the author’s eyes, learning from their perspective.
Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15th-October 15th and I want to bring authentic connections to my music room through the use of children’s literature. As we read the stories we learn about unique cultures and see how life is different for different people.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite books to use for Hispanic Heritage month with links and short descriptions of each. There are books based on famous folk songs, biographies that retell the stories of famous Latinx musicians, and books with Latinx protagonists. If you have a favorite book and it’s not listed, shoot me an email or leave a comment on the post so that I can share it with others!
Books about Songs
One really easy way to make authentic connections in the music room is to share books that illustrate famous Spanish-language songs. The books below are wonderfully illustrated and bring famous folk songs to life. Several are board books- sturdy books made of strong cardboard that are meant to withstand young hands. These are great books to put in centers or free reading stations.
Books about Famous Musicians
Explore the lives of famous Latinx singers, instrumentalists, and dancers as you retell their stories and learn about their histories. These backstories include what inspired the artists as well as the hardships that helped to shape their journey. Many of these books include Spanish words and phrases and all of them include beautiful illustrations.
Books with Stories
Sometimes there is nothing more powerful than seeing a main character who looks and sounds like you. These stories include Latinx protagonists who take us into their story and make us a part of their life.
Where to Buy/Find Books
The list doesn’t stop here! I’ve identified quite a few other books that are great to use in the music room and I’ve pulled them all together in one list. Click here to see my Amazon Ideas list with great books for Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond! The great thing about this Amazon “Ideas List” is that I can pull together all my favorite books in one place.
However, you might find that some of these books are not available through Amazon or are out of print. Even so, the Amazon list is a place to bring all the books together and Amazon will usually share a preview picture, description of the book, helpful links to buying used books, and most importantly identifying information for each book. Go to Amazon to check it out and then use the ISBN number to go and search for the book elsewhere! Here are a few of my favorite places to shop for discount children’s books.
BetterWorldBooks.com is one of my favorite places to buy used books. This website has tons of library discard books and gently used books at truly amazing prices. The best part is that shipping is usually free!
ThriftBooks.com is another fabulous place to find gently used books at super-low prices. The only downside to this retailer is that you have to reach $35 for free shipping.
My newest favorite place to find cheap books is BookOutlet.com They have unused/NEW books for ridiculously low prices. They don’t have all titles, but the stock that they do have is amazing quality!
Where else can you get books? Check your local library, used bookstore, or school library. Sometimes schools will have grant money to use specifically on books and often that money can be used on YOUR classroom. Some music-specific books are only available through Music Websites so check out the booths at conferences and retailers like WestMusic. There are new titles everywhere, so keep an eye peeled!
Many More Books to Share!
There are so many wonderful books that could be used in the classroom for Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the year. I’m always on the prowl for books with Latinx protagonists, Spanish-language songs and poems, or books written by Latinx authors. If you have a favorite book that’s not listed above, please leave a comment below so that I can check it out and add it to my list.
About the Author
I love teaching music to kids! This school year marks my 11th full year as an educator in public schools. I make music with 500 brilliant, elementary school students on a daily basis at Prairie Ridge Elementary School in the DeSoto School District just outside of Kansas City.
I’m a Nebraska native and Midwesterner at heart. I graduated from Greenville College (IL) in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree and then went to the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory where I earned my Master’s Degree studying Choral Conducting and Music Education (2011). I completed my Orff Schulwerk certification at Baker University in KS and I can’t say enough about how happy I am to have taken all three Orff levels and a master class!
When not teaching or writing about teaching here on the blog, I do my best to connect with other music educators around the country. I have presented clinics and workshops throughout the country at the local and state levels. I am a past president of the Mid-Michigan Orff Schulwerk Association and am an active member of the American Orff Schulwerk Association. Check out my newest adventure by looking in Apple Podcasts for “Make Moments Matter: A Music Education Podcast!“