Book Review: Latin Americans in History: 15 Inspiring Latinas & Latinos You Should Know by Monica Olivera

Dear Homeschool Parents,

This book is special. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about important Latino topics & Latino historical figures, but as I read through this book, I learned so much.  This book is a collection of 15 mini-biographies, all around 5 pages each, with one illustration of each figure.  Each biography is written with such a respectful tone that you can feel Monica genuinely appreciates children and values her work as an author.  I know this already because I have been following Monica on her blog, Mommy Maestra, for almost a decade.  Monica was blogging way before blogging became “the thing” for homeschool moms to do and she has been working tirelessly to create resources for celebrating Latino history and culture through her Teachers Pay Teachers store.  She knows her stuff.  But more than that, Monica loves children and educating children about our beautiful Latino culture.  While readers may not know Monica as personally as I do, you can be assured that she put her heart into this book and it shows.  

How This Book is Different

What I feel makes this book different is that the biographies are not an endless barrage of facts.  For example, the chapter about Guillo Pérez could begin and end with him being one of the Dominican Republic’s most famous painters and how he showed talent from a young age.  But Monica included an anecdote about Pérez’s childhood encounter with a mural his uncle was painting in a church.  That encounter changed Pérez’s life and this book is filled with stories like that. I knew who Dolores Huerta was, but I did not know until I read this book that Huerta’s mother helped migrant farm workers as well, feeding them and sheltering them in her hotel, sometimes for free.  I love stories that really humanize historical figures and this book nails it. 

How To Use This Book In Your Homeschool

It would be very easy to include this book as part of your morning basket or as a read aloud with your children.  Because the biographies are brief but captivating, they will certainly hold your children’s attention.  I could see a family easily reading one biography a day during Hispanic Heritage Month and learning so much.  You could add this book to your selections of independent reading for history too.  The biographies are in chronological order with the earliest beginning in the mid 1700s with José Gervasio Artigas and ending with Cecilia Tait born in 1962.  A homeschool family could use this book to beef up any United States or world history curriculum with more Latino history, because let’s face it, all the homeschool history programs basically ignore Latino history (or get it soooo terribly wrong).  All. Of.Them. But that’s for another post.  

Quick Word About the Illustrations

Kristina Rodriguez is the illustrator of this book and if anyone knows her, please give her a hug from me.  I’ve seen this trend recently in juvenile nonfiction where the illustrations are styled in a way that is…I don’t know…cutesy? Now I love cute things. L-O-V-E.  Winnie the Pooh is a personal hero.  I have a “very healthy obsession” with Snoopy.  I use a vintage Care Bears pencil case and recently bought a face wash just because it had Hello Kitty on it.  I love cute things.  But sometimes, cute is not always appropriate.  Kristina Rodriguez created portraits that treated the subject matter with dignity while still being age-appropriate.  I feel like she captured a sense of hope in these people, and hope is my jam.  

I was given an advanced digital copy of this copy of this book for review for free.  I bought a copy anyway.  I love this book and will use it and recommend it for future Mariposa Homeschool Products. 

With a delighted heart,


P.S. Find all of Monica’s products on her blog 

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