Sep 12, 2023 - World

New Latino-centered books hit shelves

The "Sí, Se Puede" cover. Photo: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.

U.S. astronaut Ellen Ochoa and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor are among the people featured in several new young adult and children's books celebrating notable Latinos.

Why it matters: Most of Latino history is not mentioned in U.S. textbooks, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University and UnidosUS this year.

  • The new books come at a time when some conservatives have tried banning books such as an illustrated children's biography of baseball star Roberto Clemente, arguing they promote biases in their discussions of racism.

Details: "Sí, Se Puede: The Latino Heroes Who Changed the United States," a graphic novel from Ten Speed Graphic, is scheduled to be published Oct. 10.

  • It recaps Mesoamerican history, Hispanic soldiers' role fighting for the Union in the U.S. Civil War, and the biographies of key U.S. Latino figures of the past and present.
  • In the book's foreword, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) says the book is "a reminder of who Latinos are — and what we can achieve."

Last week, MacMillan released new books in its Hispanic Star series. They feature Ochoa, a former Johnson Space Center director, and Sotomayor.

  • Both women are also mentioned in "Sí, Se Puede," in chapters about scientific contributions and modern trailblazers.

What they're saying: "I would have loved to have a book like this growing up, to not only learn about these heroes in the Latino community but also to be inspired by them," says Yasmín Flores Montañez, a Puerto Rican illustrator who worked on "Sí, Se Puede."

  • Flores Montañez, who has created some cover art for DC and Marvel comics, said she took some of the experience with drawing superheroes to illustrate the people in "Sí, Se Puede."
  • "The historical figures in this book have their unique superpowers that are real to us. My goal was to portray each of these individuals as the powerhouses they are," she says.

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