Latino Literature

By: Ruth Fernandez and Sara Weaver

Judith Ortiz Cofer Biography

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born on December 24, 1952 in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. Cofer and her family moved to Paterson, New Jersey in 1956, and she made constant back-and-forth trips between Puerto Rico and New Jersey for many years. In 1967, Cofer and her family moved to Augusta, Georgia. In high school, Judith Ortiz Cofer was one of only three minority students of 2000 students; she was the only Puerto Rican. Cofer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Augusta College and received a Master’s in English from Florida Atlantic University in the late 1970’s.

Judith Ortiz Cofer has won many awards. Ortiz became the first Hispanic women to win the O. Henry Prize in 1994, Cofer and Susan Guevara became the first recipients of Pura Belpre Award for Hispanic children’s literature and in 2010, she was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. She has also been awarded the Ainsfield-Wolf Book Awards and the Pura Belpre Award for Writing.

Judith Ortiz Cofer is currently the Regents’ and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Latino Text Analysis by Sara Weaver

“An Hour With Abuelo” by Judith Ortiz Cofer is about a boy who is not very close to his grandfather, but wants to know more about him when his grandfather shares his life story. Some of the characteristics present in the text that represent the Latino Culture are: language barriers, deep family ties, and becoming closer to the primary culture of one’s ancestor.

In the story, the narrator tells us that Abuelo speaks Spanish to his children, but speaks English to his grandchildren because they aren’t fluent in Spanish. This represents the language barriers of Latinos that are “Americanized” and those that are not.

Latinos have very deep family ties. They are always with family, it seems. In “An Hour With Abuelo”, there are multiple representations of deep family ties. It talks about a bunch of family members that constantly get together to visit the grandfather. Also, when the grandfather was telling his story, he mentioned that his mother traveled a long distance to be with her son when he graduated from high school. This helps represent the love and the closeness of the Latino families.

Latinos that are “Americanized” are not that much different from those that are not in the deep family ties aspect. However, there will more than likely be a language barrier because the “Americanized” Latino should speak English, whereas the full out Latino will more than likely speak Spanish.

Julia Alvarez Biography

Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950 in New York City. Her family and her moved to the Dominican Republic when she was 3 month old. Her father got involved in the underground and her family quickly moved to Brooklyn, New York. She got bullied in school because she didn’t speak and understand English. For many years Julia traveled across the country teaching people about poetry. Julia went to Middlebury College and published her first novel, García Girls. Now, Julia is living in Champlain Valley, Vermont with her husband, Bill Eichner and they started a farm-literacy center in the Dominican Republic.

Latino Text Analysis by Ruth Fernandez

“Daughter of Invention” by Julia Alvarez is about a Latino family that moved from the Dominican Republic to America. They have two daughters that go to an American school. The daughters are having a tough time in school because they are still learning English. This story has elements such as, cultural confusion, challenges of language, and family ties.

The mom is worried that her daughters are becoming too “Americanized.” The daughters want to go into the city and go shopping for new clothes. Sometimes they wish that they were born American. Cukita, the older daughter, was chosen to give a speech at her school assembly. When she read it to her parents, her father hated it and tore up her speech. He thought it was disrespecting her teachers and didn’t show any gratitude. He didn’t want his family to fit in and forget their Spanish culture.

Cukita’s mom speaks mostly English at home. Cukita and her sister find it hard to understand her. They beg their mom to speak Spanish more often. Their family is not very rich, but they still have a strong bond between them. After Cukita’s father ripped up her speech, her mother stayed up all night and helped her write a new one. This one turned out to be better than the first, and both of Cukita’s parents loved it.

This story best reflects Latino culture. Elements like cultural confusion, challenges of language, and family ties are incorporated in this story.

Cultural Overview

Family is very important in Latino culture. Families and their extended family, are extremely close. The father is usually the head of the household and the mother is responsible for the home. People usually greet each other with a light hug and a kiss on the cheek, or a firm handshake. 90% of people in this culture are Roman Catholic.


This painting is of a Latino family. It is very obvious that Latinos love their family and they make it a priority to spend time with them. Latino Americans have carried this over into their “new” culture. Many Latino and Latino American artworks will incorporate a family because family is important to them.

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Salsa dancing is a big latino dance, and latino americans have taken that and made it their own.
Salsa Dancing 27 Salsa Champions Abel Zulmara-LosAngles 2007