Poetry for Teens: Hispanic Heritage

The poems in these collections capture moments and feelings that young people can relate to easily about love, loss, family, friendship, and the age-old question of adolescence: Who am I? They also serve as great models for students who are interested in writing their own poems. Recommended for grades 7-12.

A Fire in My Hands

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 12-14

"These simple, free-verse selections skillfully capture that which is commonplace and transforms it into something mesmerizing and lovely. A first date, the embarrassment of belching root beer out of one's nose, the joy and the intricacies of the proper way to eat Mexican food, and a lost dog are just a few of the topics that Soto addresses. The 31 poems are delightful in themselves, but the poet also adds the brief reminiscence of the event or feeling that prompted him to write each one." — School Library Journal

Cool Salsa

Age Level: 12-14

This collection of poems explores the bicultural and bilingual identity that many young Latinos in the U.S. strive to define as they move between worlds, languages, and customs. The poems reflect many emotions, including pride and confusion, as the poets move from ESL class and a street fair to the church and the "all American" side of the tracks. Oscar Hijuelos provides a thoughtful, moving introduction to the collection. This book contains some explicit content.

Dizzy In Your Eyes: Poems About Love

By: Pat Mora

This collection of poetry for young adults celebrates the intensity of the teen years, particularly in matters of the heart. Mora creatively combines English and Spanish in ways that will resonate with bilingual readers. The collection features a wide variety of poetic forms and includes brief descriptions of the forms to guide student writers.

Laughing Out Loud, I Fly

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Juan Felipe Herrera writes in both Spanish and English about the joy and laughter and sometimes the confusion of growing up in an upside-down, jumbled-up world-between two cultures, two homes. Skillfully crafted, joyful, and fun, the poems are paired with whimsical black and white drawings by Karen Barbour.

My Own True Name: New And Selected Poems For Young Adults

By: Pat Mora
Age Level: 14-16

"Mora has selected poems from her adult collections and added some new ones. She speaks of her own experience as a Latina in the Southwest, and of the experiences of those people whose lives have touched her own. Using the metaphor of a cactus, she has grouped the selections into three sections: 'Blooms' (of loves and joys), 'Thorns' (of hardships and sorrows), and 'Roots' (of family, wisdom, home, and strength)." — School Library Journal

Neighborhood Odes

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 9-12

"The Hispanic neighborhood in Soto's 21 poems is brought sharply into focus by the care with which he records images of everyday life: the music of an ice cream vendor's truck, the top of a refrigerator where old bread lies in plastic, dust released into the air when a boy strums a guitar…Diaz's woodcuts complement the poems perfectly: the silhouettes are fanciful and dynamic but do not draw attention from the words on the page." — Publishers Weekly

Partly Cloudy: Poems Of Love and Longing

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: The fleeting emotions of teenagers, as changeable as the weather, ring true in these emotionally resonant poems. Narrators, both boys and girls, of various ethnicities fall in love for the first time, pine over crushes, and brood over broken hearts. Tender, lighthearted, and surprising, this collection will capture teens, tweens, and anyone who remembers what it's like to be a young person in love.

Wachale!: Poetry and Prose about Growing Up Latino

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: This groundbreaking bilingual anthology, carefully designed for middle readers, is a mosaic of voices demonstrating the energy, creativity, and diversity of the fastest-growing minority group in America. Wáchale! (Spanglish for "watch out!") includes folk tales, stories, and poems in both English and Spanish, and brief autobiographical essays by both well-established and emerging writers representing all shades of Latinos.

Yes! We Are Latinos

Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan, and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino. Thirteen young Latinos and Latinas living in America are introduced in this book celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino and Latina experience in the United States through free-verse fictional narratives.