June is National Caribbean American Heritage Month, dear to me because I come from both Barbuda and St. Croix through my grandfathers. In college I was lucky enough to spend four months living in Trinidad, participating in an English department foreign study program at the University of the West Indies. While we were down there, we learned a lot about the history of Trinidad & Tobago, the origins of carnival, and the invention of the steel pan. In particular, I took a course called “The West Indian Short Story” that refined my perspective on literature in English and postcolonial writers, such as V.S.Naipaul, who patched short stories together in order to get his novel A House for Mr. Biswas published in England. Pre-Trinidad I thought the book was too episodic; post-Trinidad I have a deeper appreciation for the variety of literary forms that are used to express the human experience, from novels in verse and short story collections to free-style battles and poetry slams.
I took a look around the Scholastic archive, and found this variety represented in titles that we have published over the years. One of our more recent books, Stir It Up!, even has recipes for dishes like aloo pie, sweet bread, and sorrel! It comes with a warning, however, “This book will make you hungry for delicious and well-prepared West Indian food!”
It is a good month to visit a local roti spot and then lime with one of these titles:
- Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. 1995. Poet and Politician of Puerto Rico: Don Luis Muñoz Marín. New York: Orchard Books.
- ———. 1999. In the Shade of the Níspero Tree. New York: Orchard Books.
- Berry, James. 1988. A Thief in the Village, and Other Stories. New York: Orchard Books.
- Burg, Ann E. 2013. Serafina’s Promise: A Novel in Verse. New York: Scholastic Press.
- Cervantes, Angela. 2013. Gaby, Lost and Found. New York: Scholastic Press.
- Danticat, Edwidge. 2002. Behind the Mountains. New York: Orchard Books.
- ———. 2005. Anacaona, Golden Flower. New York, NY: Scholastic.
- Danticat, Edwidge, and Alix Delinois. 2010. Eight Days: A Story of Haiti. New York: Orchard Books.
- Freitas, Donna. 2014. Gold Medal Winter. New York: Scholastic.
- Ganeshram, Ramin. 2011. Stir It up!: A Novel. New York: Scholastic.
- George, Linda, and Charles George. 1999. Luis Muñoz Marín: Father of Modern Puerto Rico. New York: Children’s Press.
- Hamilton, Virginia, Leo Dillon, and Diane Dillon. 2000. The Girl Who Spun Gold. New York: Blue Sky Press.
- Hausman, Gerald, and Uton Hinds. 2001. The Jacob Ladder. New York: Orchard Books.
- Irving, Barrington, and Holly Peppe. 2012. Touch the Sky. New York: Scholastic.
- Mordecai, Martin. 2009. Blue Mountain Trouble. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.
- Porte, Barbara Ann. 1994. Something Terrible Happened: A Novel. New York: Orchard Books.
- Rohmer, Harriet, Jesús Guerrero Rea, and Consuelo Méndez Castillo. 1988. Atariba & Niguayona: A Story from the Taino People of Puerto Rico. San Francisco, Calif.: Children’s Book Press.
- Santiago, Esmeralda, and Enrique O Sanchez. 2005. A Doll for Navidades. New York: Scholastic.
- Temple, Frances. 1992. Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti. New York: Orchard Books.
- ———. 1994. Tiger Soup: An Anansi Story from Jamaica. New York: Orchard Books.
- ———. 1995. Tonight, by Sea: A Novel. New York: Orchard Books.
- Wilson, Willie, and Karen Bertrand. 1987. Up Mountain One Time. New York: Orchard Books.
- Wolkstein, Diane, and Marc Tolon Brown. 2000. The Little Banjo. New York: Scholastic.