With roughly 62 million people who identify as Hispanic or Latino in the United States, it’s more important than ever to celebrate this community and its contributions. That’s especially true in the wake of a recent study(link is external) that found Latino history is largely left out of high school textbooks and the fact that, according to 2020 census data(link is external), American Latinos are the fastest-growing group in our country.
But there are challenges associated with lumping together a population as diverse as the ones Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates. For example, some Latinos find the term “Hispanic” to be derogatory and prefer to use other terms, such as Latinx, which is used as a gender-neutral alternative. Other Hispanic Americans want to honor their heritage by focusing on specific countries, such as Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela. And some want to address the legacy of colonialism, which is often ignored in Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
Despite the challenges, Hispanic Heritage Month provides a unique opportunity for families to learn about other cultures while celebrating their own. Here are some ideas to help children explore the rich diversity of their neighbors, classmates and co-workers.
Explore Hispanic Heritage with books, music and foods
Hispanic Heritage Month is an excellent time to introduce young kids to a variety of Hispanic artists, including Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali. They can play with different painting styles and try to recreate these masterworks themselves. Some schools and libraries even have special exhibits of these artists’ works during this month.
For older kids, consider reading biographies about these artists and discussing how their heritage influenced their work. For example, you might read about how Picasso was influenced by the Mexican culture and art he observed during his travels there in his youth. You can also talk about how Kahlo’s self-portraits were often painted during periods of great depression and anxiety.
Another fun way to explore Hispanic Heritage is by visiting museums that have content related to this community, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American Latino(link is external). Or you could check out the Smithsonian’s virtual exhibition(link is external) about
Some companies also celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by releasing themed products, such as movies, toys and games. For example, Disney’s Magic Kingdom(link is external) this year debuted live-action versions of the animated characters Mirabel and Bruno from the film Encanto. Or you might explore Hispanic heritage by playing the online interactive games offered by the U.S. Postal Service, which recently released a new set of Forever stamps(link is external) featuring pinatas.
But it’s important to remember that Hispanic Heritage Month is more than just a month. It’s a way to promote the idea that all people are rooted in family and community, and it’s a reminder of how much we all have in common.