A practical, comprehensive guide to the history and culture of American Latinos, written in a lively prose. Educator and...


LATINO LITERACY: The Complete Guide to Our Hispanic History and Culture

A practical, comprehensive guide to the history and culture of American Latinos, written in a lively prose. Educator and author (Hispanics in the U.S. Through 1865; Hispanics in U.S. History: 1865 to the Present, both 1989) de Varona has compiled historical and cultural data on the last 500 years of Hispanic contributions to American culture. Making up 10 percent of the US population, it is anticipated that in another 50 years Latinos will comprise more than a fifth of our population, surpassing African-Americans as the nation's largest minority. Nonetheless, Latino contributions to our country have generally been overlooked by historians and by the authors of school texts. De Varona notes, for example, that during both world wars, Latinos, despite being victims of acute discrimination, volunteered for the armed forces in a higher percentage than any other ethnic group in our country and ""earned disproportionately more Medals of Honor than any other group as well."" Our histories have tended to ignore not only the contributions of Latinos to American culture, but the intense discrimination faced by Hispanics in America. When Americans sought scapegoats for their ills during hard times, Mexican immigrants proved easy targets. Many Anglos in the 1940s, for example, felt that they had the right to assault anyone dressed in the ""zoot suits"" that had become identified with Mexican-American youth because they believed that young Latinos were benefiting from the resurgent American economy during WW II without being sufficiently committed to the war effort. Beyond its concise history, this book features lists such as record of Hispanic cultural celebrations, common English words derived from Spanish, and a bibliography of literary works by writers of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent. Enlightening and often entertaining, Latino Literacy is a necessary addition to America's multicultural library. In addition to its popular appeal to Latinos, it should prove an invaluable resource for all educators.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1996


Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996