As we launch Women’s History Month, I want to encourage you to find out more about Latina women’s history.
Toward that end, I would like to suggest some books for you to start your journey. This list is by no means exhaustive, so I’d love your comments with suggestions of other books you may know of. Consider this simply a ‘jumping off’ point.
The Book of Latina Women: 150 Vidas of Passion, Strength, and Success by Sylvia Mendoza. This small book should be on everyone’s bedside table. Sylvia, award-winning journalist and PowerfulLatinas.com interviewee, has compiled a great resource of Latina women throughout the ages who have accomplished amazing things in a variety of fields. These short vignettes are great for reading to a child, or simply for reading a brief story each day!
500 Years of Chicana Women’s History by Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez is a book of not only stories, but great pictures and clippings. And the book is bilingual! In this coffee table book, well known activist, lecturer and writer “Betita” Martinez covers both the big picture scope of history as well as little known “factoids” that are fun to learn, surprising, and inspiring.
Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community is a book authored by Latina professors on both coasts. Vicki L. Ruiz is Professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine and Virginia Sánchez Korrol is Professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College. The book tells the stories of a wide spectrum of Latinas over historical time and place.
In addition to historical overviews, some books tell historical stories of Latina women. For example…
Latinas: Hispanic Women in the United States by Hedda Garza was published in 2001. Ms. Garza documents and discusses contributions to this country’s social and political landscape over the past 150 years by Latina leaders, organizers, and activists from diverse backgrounds, including Chicanas, Puertorriqueias, Cubanas, Dominicanas, and women drawn to the United States from throughout Central and South America. Garza’s study was selected as a New York Public Library Annual Best Books for Young Adults in 1995.
Songs My Mother Sang to Me by Priscilla Preciado Martin documents the lives and memories of the women of her mother’s and grandmother’s eras.
If you’re looking for anthologies of Latina authors, and want to get a more first hand account of Latina experiences in the U.S., try one of the below:
Latina by Lillian Castillo-speed has a sample of works from over 30 Latina authors.
Kissing the Mango Tree: Puerto Rican Women Rewriting American Literature by Carmen S. Rivera is an examination of popular Puerto Rican writers.
Floricanto Si!: A Collection of Latina poetry edited by Bryce Milligan and Angela de Hoyos, includes works by such renowned authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and Ana Castillo.
Let these books be a start for you to do more exploration and research.