Guiding Learning with Hispanic Heroes Biographies

5 min read

| By Gale Staff |

Biographies can be popular resources for students and teachers because they fill a wide range of interests and spark conversation about a multitude of subjects. Gale In Context: Elementary includes scores of interesting, engaging biographies—with many about Hispanic icons and leaders who have made important contributions in their respective fields. This collection includes biographies of pop-culture icons, government leaders, athletes, activists, and more, which means students will likely find topics that excite them—no matter their interests.

Teachers might encourage students to investigate a series of biographies based on the unique backgrounds of the featured individuals. The database offers a selection of stories about Hispanic Americans from various backgrounds, allowing students to research the lives of artists, writers, activists, or government leaders, among others.

Many important, influential Hispanic artists have contributed to American culture, and students who are interested in art, music, or pop culture will find numerous biographies related to these topics. For example, students interested in music or pop culture might be interested in reading the Demi Lovato biography. Lovato is an American singer and actor, who first entered the entertainment field as a child while acting in children’s programs. Later in her career, she became known for her singing and released multiple albums. Lovato is also a pop-culture icon, and some students might be interested to learn more about her personal life and background.

Another Hispanic artist whose biography is in the database is Evelyn Cisneros, an American ballet dancer. Students who are interested in dance may find this biography interesting. Students who read the biography will learn that Cisneros started dancing in part to overcome her shyness. She became more outgoing after joining dance and got involved in numerous other activities. She then went on to become one of the best-known ballet dancers in the United States and performed roles in many famous productions, including The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. The story of Cisneros’s career may inspire students who are themselves shy or struggle in front of crowds.

Actors are other artists whose backgrounds may interest students. Students may be interested in reading actor Raul Juliá’s biography to learn about his life and work. Juliá was born in Puerto Rico in 1940 and first became interested in acting in high school. His mother was also a performer, an opera singer. Juliá moved to the United States in the 1960s and continued to act in theater productions. Eventually he began to act in television shows and movies. Julia played his more-famous roles in the 1980s and ‘90s, including the role of Gomez in the 1991 comedy film The Addams Family.

Some students may be interested in learning about other important Hispanic American figures, including writers and journalists. Juan Felipe Herrera is an American poet and served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. Herrera was the first Hispanic U.S. Poet Laureate. As part of his work as Poet Laureate, Herrera traveled around the country and worked with students and children. Students may be inspired by Herrera’s story to start writing or reading poetry themselves.

Another inspiring figure students can read about is journalist Maria Hinojosa. Hinojosa is a Mexican American journalist who has won awards for her work. Some students may be interested in Hinojosa’s background, as she was born in Mexico and moved to the United States as a child with her family. Students may also be interested in learning about Hinojosa’s many accomplishments. For example, they will learn that Hinojosa formed her own media company, Futuro Media, in 2010. Hinojosa’s company specializes in creating media content for Latino Americans. Hinojosa won a Pulitzer Prize, one of the most important prizes in journalism, in 2022 for her work.

Students who are interested in government, social issues, or current events will find topics to pique their interest among the database’s biographies. Some of these include biographies of Hispanic activists and leaders. For example, students be interested in accessing the Sonia Sotomayor portal, where they can learn all about Justice Sotomayor, who is the first Hispanic American to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Sotomayor—who was also just the third woman to serve on the court—took her place on the court in 2009. Students may be interested in reading Sotomayor’s biography to learn how she became one of the most influential leaders in the U.S. federal government.

Teachers and students will also find numerous biographies about social activists who tried to improve society for other people. One example of a social activist in the database is Jovita Idár. Idár was a journalist and activist who fought for women’s right to vote and for the rights of Mexican Americans in South Texas in the early 1900s. Students may be inspired by Idár’s work and dedication. Teachers may ask students to compare the life and work of Sotomayor and Idár and discuss how society changed between the two women’s lives.

Gale In Context: Elementary resources enable teachers to highlight stories about significant Hispanic Americans, engaging students from various backgrounds and interests in the rich tapestry of Hispanic heritage and its influence on American society.

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