8 Books Worth Picking Up!

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If you are looking for good reading over the holiday break consider supporting the work of these amazing authors, educators and culture keepers! They range from poetry, fiction, history, women’s solidarity, youth empowerment and even an Indigenous coloring book

  1. Waterhummingbirdhouse: A Chicano Poetry Codex

by Israel Lopez

(Black & White VERSION) This is an experimental Chicano poetry codex. This work explores border politics and linguistic borders through the use of a multitude of poetic forms, images and bilingual antics. The poems move from english, spanish, nahuatl and Chicano imagery to convey the rupture, the mending, the re-constructing, re-membering of chicano poetics and a visual landscape that reconsiders the codices left behind by olmeca, tolteca, azteca and mayan ancestors.

  1. BloomingFlower, Shooting Star by Yaocihuatzin PhD

Blooming Flower, Shooting Star is semi-fiction, there is some non-fictional history of Indigenous icons, traditions, and rituals incorporated. The book involves two characters, Citlali and Flor. Citlali is an undergraduate at New York University and was a former ward of the court in California. Flor is a senior in high school in Oakland, California and is still in the foster care system. After not being in contact for three years, they begin to e-mail each other and discuss many of the issues that young adults/teens are dealing with today. They write to each other about issues ranging from love, history, traditions, boyfriends, pregnancy, feminism, gangs, military, and share their daily lives with each other the way best friends or sisters do.

  1. Revengeof the “Illegal Alien”: A Mexican Takes on the Empire by Cesar A. Cruz

Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz takes on the Empire with a powerful collection of poems, short stories and political bullets. Author Luis Rodriguez (Always Running) describes Cesar’s writings as filled with “fierce insight and righteous rage.” The book has received praise from Godfather of Chicano Studies, Rudy Acuna, political activist Yuri Kochiyama, former Black Panther Shaka At-thinnin, rapper Paris, and many others. Mr. Cruz dispels the myth of the so-called “Illegal Alien” in North America and stands up for all human beings seeking to change the world. Library of Congress Control Number: 2008901057, ISBN #978-0-6151-5299-8

  1. IncarceratedParadise: A Journey from East Oakland to Puerto Ricoby Ramas Crew

Youth from East Oakland undergo a cultural, political journey to Puerto Rico to learn about the countries’ freedom fighters and their struggle for independence. Book includes poems, short stories and powerful biographies from freedom fighters desde Boriken. An OaklandLEAF.org, Ramas Crew, production. Proceeds of sales will go to Oakland LEAF.

  1. YouthWisdom by Homies Empowerment

“Youth Wisdom” is a Homies Empowerment production, created by teens, ages 14-19, from Oakland, CA. based out of Arise High School. In this book, they express life lessons bringing forth hope and a vision for a new way to live. Proceeds of sales will go to Homies Empowerment.


This Chicano Codex Coloring book is for both children and adults. This codex reflex on the deer and the medicine of the deer. The codex coloring book series are recalling, exploring and expanding the codices left behind by our ancestors. The imagery found in these texts are inspired by azteca, maya, toltecs, yaqui images but inspire the individual to continue to create not simply copy ancestral work. If we are to continue to thrive, identify and redefine the imagery and meaning left behind by our predecessors we have to re-evision, adapt and create new codices.

  1. Norteños/Sureños:Time to ‘Bang’ For Freedom, Brief History of Mexican Mafia & NuestraFamilia by Cesar A. Cruz

This powerful book details the history of Norteno & Sureno gangs and how their split came about. It serves as an empowering historical tool for young people caught up in gangs. Includes sections on the Brown Berets, Young Lords and many freedom fighters.

  1. Waterhummingbirdhouse: A Xikano Codex Coloring Book by Israel Lopez

This chicano art coloring book is 52 pages and examines neo-mayan,neo-aztec,neo-chicano glyphs. It is for both children and adults alike. This meditative work allows the viewer to explore visual metaphors that draw from what sometimes gets deemed as “lost cultures” and become inspired to create new visions for the next seven generations.  Centered around the reality that these images and cultures are here and now and continue to thrive.

Works suggested by:

cesar a. cruz

Doctoral Candidate & Founder of Homies Empowerment Program

Harvard University-Secondary School Program

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