September 15 to October 15 Is National Hispanic Heritage Month - National Council of Teachers of English
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September 15 to October 15 Is National Hispanic Heritage Month

A time for celebrating the culture, art, and achievements of Latinx people, September 15 to October 15 has been designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. September 15 also marks the independence days of five Latin countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico achieved independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

Learning for Justice reminds us, “As we celebrate and honor the heritage of our students throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we must also do the important work of understanding how and why the distinct histories of a multinational, multicultural and multilingual group of communities were consolidated into Hispanic heritage in the first place.”

Begin by discussing with students all the various aspects of culture, in this case, Latinx or Hispanic culture. Remind students that culture is not just race and ethnicity but extends to dance, music, art, architecture, education, family dynamics, film, religion, politics, literature, food, holidays, and much more. Ask students and their families to share about their heritage as the class creates a brainstormed list for an inquiry project.

Once students have compiled a list of potential topics to research, organize the list into some general categories and have students identify resources they could use to learn more about Latinx culture in their category. Encourage students to think about people in their communities or families who might have personal knowledge of the topics they’re researching.

Encourage students to include primary sources in their research. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Latinx Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. 

Here are some suggestions of Library of Congress primary sources and teacher resources you can use in your classroom or library.

Have students work in groups to research their topics and present the information they find to the class.

How will you use primary sources to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month with your students?

Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced recently by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in new ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.

Lisa Fink is an NCTE Staff Member, a former elementary teacher, and a current university instructor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She can be reached on Twitter @fink_girl.