Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes Book Poster Image
Picture book offers inspiring bios of Latino Americans.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

These biographical entries about various famous Hispanic figures will teach readers about many important Latinos throughout history from all walks of life. There are plenty of historical facts for young readers to memorize, and the essays will convey the significant contribution Hispanic Americans have made to all sorts of fields.

Positive Messages

The book emphasizes the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans and stresses that even though Latinos are often marginalized and discriminated against, they still have risen to play a powerful role in all aspects of American history and culture.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All 19 Hispanic Americans included in the book are positive role models for children (and adults). They all are pioneers, leaders, and historically significant figures in their fields, which include the hard sciences, entertainment, sports, politics, the military, arts and letters, and so on.

Violence & Scariness

No violence in the story, but there are references to wars some of the featured Hispanic heroes lived through, protested, or were involved in. There also is a mention of how Roberto Clemente's plane disappeared (but no explicit talk of a plane crash or the specifics of his death).


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, by Juan Felipe Herrera, California's poet laureate, is a celebration of pioneering Latinos who've helped shape their various fields from the arts and sciences to athletics and public service. A full-page portrait by illustrator Raúl Colón accompanies a three-page biography of each subject, from Spanish explorer Bernardo de Gálvez and poet Julia De Burgos to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and baseball legend Roberto Clemente -- and 15 other famous Latinos. The entries provide an easy-to-read sketch of each person's life, while sparking curiosity in readers interested in the fields in which each figure excelled, whether it was physics or the big screen. Herrera won the American Library Association's 2015 Pura Bulpre Honor for authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byBecky B. March 13, 2018

Enjoyable and interesting, with one surprise

My son really enjoyed this book. The last story was about a hero-teacher from Newtown, which was upsetting, and we started reading with his younger brother befo... Continue reading

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What's the story?

A collaboration between author Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrator Raúl Colón, PORTRAITS OF HISPANIC AMERICAN HEROES is a collection of 19 biographical essays accompanied by portraits of each historically significant Hispanic pioneer. The featured individuals range from farm worker and labor leader César Chavez and entertainers Desi Arnaz, Joan Baez, and Rita Moreno to baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. There also are profiles of lesser-known but equally as compelling luminaries, such as high school math teacher Jaime Escalante, poet Julia de Burgos, physicist Luis Alvarez, and astronaut Ellen Ochoa, among others.

Is it any good?

Mainstream America may not have known these pioneers’ names, but now young kids can celebrate them in this lovely picture book that's full of 19 mini-biographies and portraits of Hispanic heroes. There was a time before Dora the Explorer and Ugly Betty and the rise of multicultural casts on television when Hispanic American kids didn't see many Latinos on the stage or screen, but as Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes proves, there have always been prominent Hispanic Americans in the arts, sciences, letters, politics, and sports. 

Some of the entries are obvious (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner Moreno, Pittsburgh Pirate legend Clemente, and labor union pioneer Chavez), but others are unexpected. Did you know a Hispanic American won the Nobel Prize for Physics (Alvarez) or that a Latina astronaut rose through the NASA ranks to be the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston? It's refreshing and inspiring to read about such accomplished Latinos, who had to overcome considerable discrimination to reach their goals.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various individuals included in the book. Why are they important? Which Hispanic Americans would you like to learn more about? What did you learn from the book?

  • Why does the author say that Hispanic contributions to U.S. culture, academics, and politics have been overshadowed by the idea or assumption that Latinos are "aliens" and "illegals"?

  • How do the illustrations help tell the individuals' stories? What's your favorite illustration, and why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history and Latino stories

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