NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Hispanic Heritage Month is often recognized as a time to celebrate the Latino and Hispanic communities.

It’s also a time to promote unity.

And on Wednesday an organization in East Harlem took that a step further.

These days, being bilingual can help you secure a job, make you more competitive in the workforce or even broaden your perspective on life. That is the message one group aimed to get across to even the youngest generations at the Festival Del Libro, or “festival of books,” CBSN New York’s Nina Kapur reported.

(Photo: CBS2)

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Dozens of local authors set up shop Wednesday morning in East Harlem’s El Barrio’s Artspace for the seventh annual festival. Families were encouraged to attend, chat with authors, and children even walked out with a free book of their choice.

By introducing young people to successful Latino authors, festival organizer Félix Leo Campos said he hopes young writers feel inspired.

“We want to encourage kids to be creative,” Campos said. “We want children to be proud of their heritages, because a lot of children are of mixed heritage. So we want them to be proud of all of them and take with them every day the culture of each of the heritage they represent.”

“It’s important to give back, to show that there are Latino authors. We may not be as popular right now,” author Hector La Fosse added. “The more we write, the more we will inspire other youths to come and become writers.”

The goal, however, was to encourage English-speaking Latinx kids to embrace Spanish, and give students from Spanish-speaking families a safe place to speak English, ultimately teaching the importance of being bilingual at any age and, of course, embracing one’s culture.

“You can get different job advancements. You can talk to more of population and create better relationships with peers by being bilingual,” said Abigail Sanchez of the Center for Advancement of Language Education and Communities.

“I think that some kids, if they see that a lot of Spanish is being spoken or just used in the community, it’s going to urge them to learn Spanish or try to learn Spanish and communicate with others,” ninth grader Philipp Madubuko added.

Autobiographies, poetry, and cookbooks were a few of the genres available. Authors and organizers alike said they hope young writers will walk out with pride in their heritage and goals to work towards.

In case you missed Wednesday’s event, there will be another at the East Harlem location this Sunday.

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