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Hispanic Heritage Month

This year’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month carries particular poignance for the Kansas City Public Library. In conjunction with the monthlong observance, running from September 15 to October 15, the Library annually highlights a collection of book recommendations, film offerings, and other resources that explore a rich array of the experiences and perspectives of Latino Americans.

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2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. To celebrate, explore our amazing universe through these books and films at the Library.

General | Moon | Sun & Stars | Mars | Comets & Galaxies | Films | Recommended Websites


The New Solar System
Edited by J. Kelly Beatty, Carolyn Collins Petersen, and Andrew Chaikin
A distinguished team of researchers, many of them Principal Investigators on NASA missions, explain the solar system. The book examines the latest research and thinking about the solar system; looks at how the Sun and planets formed; and discusses our search for other planetary systems and the search for life in the solar system. In full-color and heavily-illustrated, the book contains more than 500 photographs, portrayals, and diagrams.

Event: Astronaut Steven Hawley, July 7
Exhibit: Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery, July 5-August 30

Born on July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri, Robert Heinlein wrote four Hugo Award-winning novels. The Hugo Awards, science fiction’s most prestigious award, are presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society. Pick one of these winners up for a summer read.

Stranger in a Strange Land book jacket

Heinlein’s best known and most influential novel, Stranger in a Strange Land published in 1961, tells the story of a human born and raised on Mars by Martians who returns to Earth as a young man with unique psychic abilities and a complete lack of knowledge about human customs and cultures.

Published in 1956, Double Star follows Lorenzo Smythe, an actor whose career is on the outs, who finds himself on Mars and takes on the role of impersonating a kidnapped politician. Smythe’s life and a potential interplanetary war are at stake.

Explore the life and career of Missouri-born artist Thomas Hart Benton in these books and documentary at the Library.

Related event:
Meet the Past: Thomas Hart Benton, July 14

An Artist in America
By Thomas Hart Benton
In this autobiography, Benton writes about his life and career. It includes descriptions of his boyhood in Missouri and his travels, as well as discussions of specific works of art and other artists.

More recommended reading:
Art in Missouri

Thomas Hart Benton (1989)
Filmmaker Ken Burns profiled Thomas Hart Benton in this PBS documentary. The film uses long-lost footage, interviews, and the art of Benton to tell the bittersweet story of this extraordinary American artist.

Discover the Missouri-born outlaw who became one of America’s most notorious bank and train robbers through these nonfiction accounts of his life, as well as through fiction.

Related event:
Meet the Past: Jesse James, June 30


Jesse James: The Best Writings on the Notorious Outlaw and His Gang
Edited by Harold Dellinger
From his early days as a Civil War guerilla to his untimely death at the hands of that "dirty little coward" Robert Ford, few figures in American folklore have captured the imagination quite like Jesse James. In these pages, noted James authority Harold Dellinger sifts through the hundreds of published articles and books about James to painstakingly create a compelling collage of character, an extraordinary, multifaceted portrait of one of history's most infamous outlaws.

Learn all about the crucial Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War or pick up a novelist’s take on the events in these books at the Library.


By Stephen W. Sears
Gettysburg, the great Civil War campaign, was the turning point of the war. Sears tells the story in a single volume, from the first gleam in Lee's eye to the last Rebel hightailing it back across the Potomac.