Puerto Rican History IS Black History & Black History IS Puerto Rican History.



We must not leave out Puerto Rican History during Black History Month! Here are eight awesome picture books to help you get started!



Jean Michel-Basquiat

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (2016)

Javaka Steptoe

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Jean-Michel Basquiat (Dec. 22, 1960-August 12, 1988)Basquiat lived in a world of art since he was a little boy! His works give voice to the notion that yes, you can color outside the lines!
Basquiat expressed his life and feelings through his artwork. As a young child Basquiat was surrounded by culture and art! His mother was Puerto Rican and his father Haitian, exposing Basquiat to two cultures, rich in heritage and tradition!  He spoke three languages, French, Spanish, and English!  His mother frequently took him to art museums and drew with him in their home!  Basquiat was first recognized by the art world for his graffiti series, with his first art shows in the early 80’s!  Some of his  paintings now sell for millions!!!Basquiat used these motiffs in his paintings:▪️Power, Strength
▪️Remembering & Seeing ▪️Understanding
▪️Childhood
(These motifs are hidden throughout the illustrations in this book!)Javaka Steptoe is an award winning author and illustrator, winning The Caldecott Medal for Radiant Child in 2017! Steptoe is the son of John Steptoe, author of books such as, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters (1988 Caldecott Honor)


Pura Belpré

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré (2019)

Anika Aldamuy Denise/Paola Escobar

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I fell in love with this book from the day the author, Anika Aldamuy Denise, announced it was coming into the world! And it is nothing short of amazing!I love how the Spanish text is so beautifully woven in throughout the story! The illustrations are warm, inviting and have wonderful detail! This book tells of Pura Belpré’s journey as a bilingual library assistant who planted and bloomed Puerto Rico’s rich folktales in the New York Public Library, first through puppets and ultimately as a published author!Pura Belpré was born February 2, 1889 in Cidra, Puerto Rico. Belpré attended the University of Puerto Rico, and she came to New York in 1921.
Upon arriving in New York Belpré worked in a garment factory until she landed a job as a bilingual assistant at the New York Public Library. While working in the library Belpré noticed that there were no stories representative of Puerto Rico, so she began telling Puerto Rican folktales during storytime, these stories soon evolved into puppet shows. Belpré wrote her first children’s book, “Perez y Martina,” in 1932. Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. Upon her death, Belpré received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, named after Belpré, recognizes the outstanding work if Latinx authors and illustrators each year!


Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates (2005)

Jonah Winter/Raúl Colón

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Born August 18, 1934 as Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Clemente began playing baseball for a Puerto Rican Baseball League around the age of seventeen
Signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers around the age of eighteen, a couple of years later he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates, he would play with this team for the remainder of his career
In 1971, at the age of thirty-seven, Clemente won MVP after leading the Pirates back to the World Series
Clemente was a member of the 3000-Hit club becoming the eleventh player to every do so in 1972. He held baseball clinics for children, was a humanitarian, and aspired to be a great role model for Latinos
Clemente was nicknamed, “The Great One.” In 1972 Clemente died in an airplane crash on his way to Puerto Rico to help after an earthquake hit the island. Clemente was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, making him the first Latin America and Caribbean player to be inducted.
The Clemente Museum was established in 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Laurie Hernandez

She’s Got This (2018)

Laurie Hernandez/Nina Mata

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Laurie Hernandez began her gymnastics career in 2012 at the age of twelve, and in 2016 she competed in the Summer Olympics as a member of the United States Womens Gymnastics Team, winning the gold and silver medal.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The ABC’s of AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from A to Z (2019)

Jamia Wilson/Krystal Quiles
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Alexandria  Ocasio-Cortez was born October 13, 1988 in Bronx, New York City, New York. She ttended Boston University, majoring in international relations and economics
Ocasio-Cortez worked as an Educational Director with highschoolers in the Bronx, as well as advocating for improved childhood literacy and writing skills for young children. She also interned for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, where she worked on foreign affairs and immigration issues. Ocasio-Cortez was the first woman of color to run for Congress in the 14th Congressional district of New York, and her’s was the first primary in a decade which was the result of the thousands of signatures she collected from her supporters. Ocasio-Cortez assumed office as a United States Representative on January 3, 2019, and is the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.


Tito Puente

Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del Mambo (2013)

Monica Brown/Rafael López

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Born Ernest Anthony Puente Jr., 1923 in Harlem, New York. Puente is known as the. “King of Mambo” and the “Grandfather of Salsa.” His first band was called Los Happy Boys.
Puente joined the Navy during World War II. He joined the ships band where he learned to play the saxophone and write music.
Puente then attended the Julliard School of Music. At night Puente played mamba and cha-chas at the Palladium Ballroom in New York City.
Puente led the Tito Puente Orchestra his own big band, in which he played the timbales. Puente recorded 118 albums during his lifetime, often collaborating with Celia Cruz, as well as, Santana, Machito, and Gloria Estefan. In 1979, Puente won his first Grammy! He would win a total of five, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


Arturo Schomburg

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (2019)

Carole Boston Weatherford/Eric Velasquez

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Arturo Schomburg  was born January 24, 1874 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. It was when Schomburg’s fifth grade teacher told him that the sons and daughters of Africa had no history that Schomburg first became intrigued with the history of his ancestors. Schomburg Moved to New York in 1891, where he cofounded and was secretary of Las Dos Antilles a political group that was advocated for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain. Schomburg found work as a messenger and clerk for a law firm and a mailroom clerk for a bank. In his spare time Schomburg searched rare book stores for books on Africana history. All three of Schomburg’s wives  were named Elizabeth. Schomburg socialized with many prominent faces of the Harlem Renaissance such as, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen. He also debated over social and economic issues with Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. du Bois.
Schomburg travelled throughout the country hunting for books to add to his collection as well as lecturing. In 1911 Schomburg cofounded the Negro Society for Historical Research. Schomburg was president of the American Negro Academy, and grand secretary of the Prince Hall Grand Masonic Lodge. Schomburg wrote articles, essays, and letters to the editor to share his knowledge of African and Black history, his most important article was, “The Negro Digs Up His Past” (1925)
Schomburg’s wife threatened to leave if he did not get all of his books out of their family home, this is when Schomburg sold his collection to the Carnegie Corporation for $10,000, in 1926 his collection of over 5,000 books plus other literature was donated to the New York Public Library. In 1931 Schomburg was invited to found the Fisk University Library’s Negro Collection. Schomburg was also a collector of African and Black art including sculptures and paintings. Schomburg was curator of the New York Public Library’s Division of Negro History, Literature, and Prints from 1932-1938, in 1940 after Schomburg’s death this was renamed the Schomburg Collection. In 1980 a new Schomburg Center building opened in Harlem  on Malcolm X Boulevard.

Sonia Sotomayor

Turning Pages: My Life Story (2018)

Sonia Sotomayor/Lulu Delacte

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“As a Justice, I study the most important words in American law-the founding document of our government, the Constitution of the United States…”

“Justice means treating people fairly under the law.”

“My story is about books-…”

“Books were my loyal friends. They made it so I never felt lonely.”

“The library was my harbor, and books were little boats that helped me escape sadness at home.”

“Books were a time machine, inspiring me to imagine what I would be when I grew up.”

“Books are keys that unlock the wisdom of yesterday and open the door to tomorrow.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the importance and books, reading, knowledge, and justice!

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lulusbookjourney

A Children's Book Journey!