Hispanic Heritage Month: A Resource Guide

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National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) begins on Sept. 15 and ends on Oct. 15. This month offers an opportunity to explore the stories and perspectives of those who identify as members of the Hispanic and Latinx community. Princeton Public Library aims to include such topics in programming and content throughout the year, and this month serves as a chance to focus our efforts.

NHHM began in 1968 with a Hispanic Heritage Week. President Lyndon B. Johnson designated the week in response to efforts by legislators amid the increased focus on representation precipitated by the Civil Rights Movement. Decades later, President Ronald Reagan, again building upon the efforts of legislators, transitioned the week to the present-day monthlong period. In 1989 President George H.W. Bush became the first president to proclaim NHHM, and President Joseph R. Biden most recently renewed this annual proclamation in 2022. The start date of Sept. 15 was selected for its historical significance to multiple Latin American countries, as several celebrate their independence days on or near Sept. 15. Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16, while Chile observes on Sept. 18. As this variation indicates, NHHM highlights a broad and diverse group of people, including those with ancestry linked to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

A note on terminology: both Hispanic and Latina/o/x are widely used terms, with differing opinions about their meaning and interchangeability. While the month is officially known as National Hispanic Heritage Month, the library frequently uses both Hispanic and Latinx to stay current with national conversations about language. As always with terminology of this nature, it is recommended to defer to the preferences of the person or people who are members of a given community.

Programs | Learn | Educator Resources

2023 Programs at the Library

Presented in partnership with McCarter Theatre and the Princeton Garden Theatre and with support from the NEH, a community screening of the 2021 musical “In the Heights” [PG-13; 2 hours, 23 minutes] will be held on September 18th from 7-9:30 pm. Free tickets, courtesy of the library, may be reserved in advance and will be available at the Princeton Garden Theatre. This musical drama follows the story of a corner in the predominantly Dominican Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, where every member of the community pursues their sueñitos (little dreams) for a better life. For more details, visit the Princeton Garden Theatre events listing.

On September 22 Dancing Under the Stars, a twice per month collaborative dance event co-sponsored by the library and the Central Jersey Dance Society and presented in partnership with the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, will feature dances and music from Latin America as part of the library’s NHHM celebrations. Members of Central Jersey Dance will demonstrate basic steps and lead others in an evening of dancing to recorded music of all kinds on Hinds Plaza (weather permitting) or in the Community Room.

On Oct. 1 the library welcomes back the launch of another series of meetings of “People & Stores” / “Gente y Cuentos,” a discussion of a Spanish-language short story guided by coordinators Darcy or Alejandra. The meeting will be held in the Conference Room from 3:00-5:00 pm. An additional meeting within NHHM will be held on Oct. 8 in the same location.

On the same day, Oct. 8, and in partnership with Mi Pueblo Lindo, Princeton YMCA, and others, the library celebrates Princeton’s Latin American community with the Festival Cultural Latino, an afternoon of music, dance, food, and crafts on the field of the YMCA from 1-5 pm. The community is invited to experience the richness and diversity of Latin American culture through its music, local artists and artisans, traditional food, and arts and crafts activities including a piñata!

Finally, as part of the library’s celebration of NHHM and in association with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a screening of filmmaker Jayro Bustamente’s Ixcanul (“Volcano”) [Unrated; 1 hour, 33 minutes] will occur on Oct. 12. In this award-winning drama, a 17-year-old Kaqchikel girl named Maria (María Mercedes Coroy), whose parents have secured an arranged marriage to plantation foreman Ignacio, becomes involved with Pepe, a young man who plans to emigrate from Guatemala to the United States. Her situation becomes urgent when snakes take over the plantation, so that Maria’s family cannot sow their fields, and the consequences of Maria’s relationship with Pepe become serious. Following the screening, Dylon Robbins, associate professor and director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, will give a talk.

Learn about Hispanic and Latinx History and Experiences

See below for lists of nonfiction and fiction geared toward adult readers and centered around Hispanic and Latinx experiences and perspectives.


For teens and kids, below are lists of books that highlight varied narratives and perspectives of those in the Hispanic and Latinx community.


Online resources include:

Resources for Educators

See the materials below for potential starting points for engaging learners. You’ll find lesson plans, digital tools, digital content, curricula, and more.

Humanities@PPL promotes critical thinking, civic engagement, and empathetic understanding through community collaboration and dynamic programs and resources. The initiative is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities

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