Best Hispanic Books for Kids
Hispanic Heritage Month now during the month of September so I am barely squeaking out this list in time to celebrate Latino/Latina and Hispanic culture with children’s literature. Por favor, disfrutar de. (I think I said please enjoy!).
What are your favorite books to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Please share!
Honorable Mention: Best Books for Kids Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
I failed to include this because I read it as an adult (and loved it, of course) but failed to realize that it’s for ages!
“Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.” [ages 10 and up]
Drown by Junot Diaz
“This stunning collection of stories offers an unsentimental glimpse of life among the immigrants from the Dominican Republic–and other front-line reports on the ambivalent promise of the American dream–by an eloquent and original writer who describes more than physical dislocation in conveying the price that is paid for leaving culture and homeland behind.” —San Francisco Chronicle [YA, ages 14 and up]
Normally I find cumulative stories excessively repetitive and downright boring — the most famous of these being This is the House That Jack Built — but I actually don’t mind The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred. Perhaps it’s the vibrant artwork? Or it could be the Spanish words interspersed throughout? Or maybe it’s that they are making Arroz Con Leche and you can too?! Recipe provided!
Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Davila
I don’t see multi-cultural graphic novels very often and this one works doubly hard. It’s a younger graphic novel for ages 7 and up and it also has an important environmental message that kids CAN make a difference in their own neighborhoods. Luz’s barrio is hit with rising gas prices and power outages which makes her think about sustainability. She wants to transform an deserted lot into a community garden but can she do it alone? [graphic novel, ages 7 and up]
Luz Makes a Splash by Claudia Davila
The sequel continues the environmental message. This time, Luz and her friends investigate why the swimming pond in Friendship Park has dried up. It’s true that there is a drought and everyone is trying to conserve water but perhaps the manufacturing plant nearby has something to do with it. What can one kid do about this? If it’s Luz, then the answer is a LOT!
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Book 1) by Jacqueline Jules
Can shoes in a mysterious box left for Freddie Ramos give him Zapato Power? And what will he do with this new super hero power of super speed? This is an engaging multicultural easy chapter book series for boys who think about super powers! [easy chapter bok, ages 6 and up]
10. Call Me Maria: A novel in letters, poems and prose by Judith Ortiz Cofer
A lyrical and gorgeously written surprise-of-a-novel of a young girl’s journey to assimilate in America with her American-born father while leaving her mother behind in Puerto Rico. [chapter book, ages 8-14]
9. Abuela by Arthur Dorros
A little girl imagines that she and her grandmother fly over the sights of New York City. [picture book, ages 2-8]
8. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
The slave of the famous painter, Velazquez, Juan de Pareja teaches himself to paint and wins his freedom and the respect of his great master. Winner of the 1966 Newbery Award. [chapter book, ages 8-12]
7. Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
A true story about a boy whose family are itinerant farm workers and the kindness of a librarian who introduces him to a whole new world of books. [picture book, ages 4-8]
6. The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
This is the book that introduced Pablo Neruda, a Nobel winner for literature, to me (which doesn’t say much about my literary chops). Ryan writes about a fictionalized young Pablo who has a loving step mother and an overbearing, rather nasty father. Rumors abound that this is up for a Newbery! [chapter book, ages 8-14]
5. Tequilla Worm by Viola Canales
14-year old Mexican American Sophia wins a scholarship to a posh boarding school. This book warmly describes the struggles of fitting in as well as the warmth and closeness of her family and barrio life. [young adult fiction, ages 12-16]
2. Chato’s Kitchen by Gary Soto
Chato the cat (Chato el Gato) lives in the barrio in east L.A. He makes a big dinner (la cena) and invites his new neighbors (las vicinas) to dinner, Los Ratons (mice). Is the dinner for them, or are they the dinner? Read on amigos! [picture book, ages 4-8]
p.s. If you can read this book with an East L.A. cholo accent like my husband (mi esposo), you’re a rock star! And your kids will giggle like mad.
1. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
My oldest daughter’s favorite book about a well-to-do Mexican girl who immigrates to America and must work as an itinerant worker. [chapter book, ages 8-12]
To check out any book more closely at Amazon, please click on the image of the book.