Poems, Short Stories, and Novels to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 13, 2022

September 15 through October 15 marks Hispanic Heritage Month and provides an opportunity for students to focus on the voices, challenges, and legacies of Hispanic Americans. Fishtank ELA brings Hispanic voices to the forefront of K–12 units year round, but we know that it can be particularly impactful to dedicate this time to these stories. To support teachers, we have collected some of our favorite units and texts to teach at this time of year. 


Elementary School 

For engaging, and beautifully illustrated, texts to teach during Hispanic Heritage Month, dive into our Kindergarten Falling in Love with Authors and Illustrators Unit. Students learn to connect the lives, experiences, and unique voices of individual authors and illustrators to the stories they create. Fishtank teacher Ariel Brisman felt that this unit, “was the biggest surprise, because those aren't authors or illustrators that I would have chosen and I'm glad that those are the ones that they focus on” as both she and her students were able to learn so much. Books by Yuyi Morales and Monica Brown offer teachers the opportunity to elevate Hispanic stories with their students.

In the 1st grade Inspiring Artists and Musicians Unit, students explore the lives and great works of Hispanic artists including Friday Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and José Guadalupe Posada. Students begin to understand what it means to be influential and how individual actions impact a person’s life.

Stories of Immigration and People Who Changed the World are two units within the 2nd grade curriculum that offer opportunities to engage students in conversations about Hispanic peoples’ experiences and impacts on our world today. Fishtank teacher Rosa Melendez works with many students that had personal experiences that related to the Stories of Immigration unit. Even students that were typically shy or quiet “were able to share their stories” and began using academic language to make connections because of how engaged they were with the Stories of Immigration unit.

In 3rd grade, students begin the year with My Name is María Isabel as they explore the meaning of identity and how they should treat people who have different identities. In the next unit, Passing Down Wisdom: Hispanic and African American Folktales, students engage with Hispanic folktales as they learn about the power of oral storytelling.

Sí Se Puede: The Migrant Workers’ Movement and Friendship Across Borders: Return to Sender in the 5th grade curriculum provide students with the opportunity to learn about Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, while also engaging students in difficult conversations about the complexity of immigration and stereotypes.

Middle and High School 

6th grade students approach the topic of “coming of age” through the stories of professional female artists of color in the Expressing Yourself: Women in the Arts Unit. Students are introduced to interdisciplinary artist Favianna Rodríguez and her art which often focuses on racial equity and migration. Additionally, students explore the stories of Cuban refugees in the text Refugees as part of the Fleeing Conflict: Refugee & The Unwanted Unit

In 7th grade, students explore the diversity of the American experience in the Defining America: Poems, Essays, and Short Stories Unit. The unit includes multiple poems, audio interviews, and articles to help students explore topics including immigration and DACA. Additionally, students discuss the idea of the American experience through their reading of The House on Mango Street, the story of a Mexican-American girl living in Chicago. 

Visibility & Invisibility in Short Texts, the first 9th grade unit of the year, pushes students to explore what makes people more or less visible in the eyes of others. José Olivarez’s poem “(citizen) (illegal)” provides an opportunity for students to focus on the complex experiences of children of immigrant parents. 9th grade’s Coming of Age and Patriarchy in Dominicana Unit continues the exploration of immigrant experiences through the story of a female undocumented immigrant.

Stay up to date with timely texts and ideas for engaging students year round on the Fishtank Blog. Do you have amazing resources for highlighting Hispanic Heritage in your classroom? We want to hear from you!