Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

I was confused on the nomenclature of Hispanic American versus Latino American so I looked it up:

Hispanic: a person of Latin American or Iberian ancestry, fluent in Spanish. It is primarily used along the Eastern seaboard, and favored by those of Caribbean and South American ancestry or origin.  English or Spanish can be their “native” language.

Latino: a U.S.-born Hispanic who is not fluent in Spanish and is engaged in social empowerment through Identity Politics. “Latino” is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.” English is probably their “native” language. “Empowerment” refers to increasing the political, social, and spiritual strength of an individual or a community, and it is associated with the development of confidence of that individual or community in their own abilities.

A simple way of remembering the difference is this: though every Latino is a Hispanic, not every Hispanic is a Latino. Hispanic is the more inclusive term.

from Hispanic Economics

And now I’m ready to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with some of my favorite books for kids! How about you? What books am I missing? Thanks for sharing!

National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group’s heritage and culture.

Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

10. Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

With spare bilingual text that reads like a poem, Yuyi Morales captures the indomitable creative spirit of Frida Kahlo while also alluding to her struggles that included polio and a terrible bus accident. While this picture book is appropriate for a very young child, older kids and even adults who know more about Frida, her life and her art will enjoy identifying those elements in the illustrations.  [bilingual Spanish picture book, ages 2 and up]

9. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh

This is the perfect picture book to introduce young children to the plight of undocumented immigrants. Told through animals — a young boy in search of his father and a coyote who offers to help him for the food he has — it brings to light the stuggles and hardships the families face when trying to make a better for themselves. And, in this story, it has a happy ending. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

8. Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

This is a really fun picture book to introduce kids to Hispanic culture through lucha libre wrestling!

The history of Mexican wrestling dating back to 1863 when the first Mexican wrestler developed and invented the Mexican lucha libre from the Greco-Roman wrestling. from Wikipedia

Yuyi Morales mixes in Hispanic lore sure to lure kids into wanting to learn more:

  • La Momia de Guanajuato (Mummies of Guanajuato). The Mummies of Guanajuato are a number of naturally mummified bodies interred during a cholera outbreak around Guanajuato, Mexico in 1833. The mummies were discovered in a cemetery in Guanajuato, making the city one of the biggest tourist attractions in Mexico.

  • Cabeza Olmeca. The Olmec people developed one of the earliest Mesoamerican civilizations with best-known art forms of “colossal heads” . These large sculptures were made ​​with basalt and had a height of between 2.4 and 3.6 meters.

  • La Llorona (“The Weeping Woman”) is a widespread legend throughout the region of Hispanic America. It is occasionally referred to by its translation into English, or by “The weeping Woman.”

[picture book, ages 4 and up]

7. Tito Puente, Mambo King by Monica Brown

It was clear that Ernest Anthony Puente Jr. — Tito Puente — was born to make music. He won The Stars of the Future contest at his church four times and went on to study at the Juillard School of Music. At the center of the Latin jazz explosion, he is considered to be the “King of the Mambo” and the “Godfather of Salsa,” and won five Grammies including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In a full circle, Tito Puente founded the Tito Puente Educational Foundation which offers scholarships to sudents to study music at Juillard. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

6. My Abuelita by Tony Johnston, illustrations by Yuyi Morales

Take time to marvel at Yuyi Morales’ multimedia illustrations. I like to try to figure out how she created each page. Is it a doll? A photo of a doll? A painting? All of the above?

My Abuelita celebrates multigenerations as a grandson helps his abuelita prepare for her day. She has the most interesting job of all; she’s a storyteller! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

5. Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

I grew up one town over from Westminister in Southern California but I never learned about Sylvia Mendez and her family’s firght for desegregation. It’s part of local history but California was rife with laws that supported racism against all people of color so I’m not surprised it’s not part of the curriculum.

Sylvia Mendez’s family took on segregration in 1945 … seven years before the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education but their story is largely unknown. Their fight is still relevant today, seventy years later where segregation is unofficial but still prevalent. [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]

4. Zapato Power series by Jacqueline Jules

There aren’t many early chapter book series with Hispanic American characters, and Zapato Power stands out because it mixes super hero fantasy with reality. Set in a barrio, Freddie Ramos gets a mysterious present — a pair of winged sneakers that makes him lightning fast. With zapato (shoe) power, anything is possible and Freddie is up to the task whether it’s a rescue or a good deed. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]

3. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera, paintings by Raúl Colón

In the land of immigrants, it is an irony that Latino lives have been largely ignored. Although there have been incredible contributions by Hispanic Americans since the beginnings of this nation, their pioneering roles often have been overshadowed and their identities besmirched by the terms such as “alien” and “illegal.” forward by Juan Felipe Herrera

This book belongs in every library because it’s true that Hispanic American hereos don’t get the attention that they deserve. Juan Felipe Herrera carefully curates 21 heroes with emphasis on those who focused on helping others. The final story is a sestina for Victoria Leigh Soto which brought me to tears. Victoria Leigh Soto was shot while shilding her students during the Newton school shooting when a gunman burst into her classroom. The other twenty stories are also important and poignant stories of heroes that all kids, not just those of Latin heritage, should know about. [biography chapter book, ages 8 and up]

2. What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

The challenge of living between two worlds can be difficult to explain, especially the hardships of undocumented workers but I love how this chapter book brings this situation to life from the eyes of a young girl whose father immigrated from Mexico to the United States and her curiosity brings her back to his village to learn more about his old life. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

1. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

The apartheid system governed every aspect of a worker’s life. The distinction began as a division between “skilled” and “unskilled” laborers, but as time passed it evolved into a purely racial divide. Skilled employees went on the Gold Roll and were paid in gold coins. These workers earned paid sick and vacation time and were housed in better accommodations than their unskilled counterparts. Those on the Silver Roll, the unskilled workers, were paid in balboas, or local Panamanian silver. West Indian workers, plentiful in numbers and eager to work, could be paid 10 cents an hour — half of the salary of a European or white U.S. worker. Over time, the Gold Roll became comprised of white U.S. citizens exclusively, while the workers on the Silver Roll, by far the majority of the workforce by the end of the construction period, were largely non-white. from

I include this novel in verse because it’s a lyrical story of the building of the Panama Canal told by all parties including the animals in the rain forest. But even more importantly, Silver People shines light on the little known Apartheid system in place that paid wages based on the color of one’s skin. It’s amazing that this is news to me whereas the Apartheid system in South Africa is widely known and reviled. [novel in verse, ages 9 and up]

Of the many practices carried out by the Panama Canal Zone administration in regards to the men of the Silver Roll probably one of the most questionable and the least investigated is the notorious “Back Punch.”  It consisted of requiring the black West Indian men approaching retirement age- or 25 year service- to sign a release or consent form as, basically, a condition to processing their retirement applications from the Panama Canal Zone and submit to a dangerous spinal tap.  It was one of these back-door types of policies that in no way was supposed to be “required” of the black workers but that in order for them to receive their long awaited pension, this medical procedure had to be “agreed to.”

Apparently, the Canal Zone authorities were perplexed by the extraordinary vigor and virility of the West Indian men who in no way seemed to exhibit any problems with their vitality and sexual health.  They wanted to probe the secret of this mysterious source of strength and somehow tap it for “scientific” reasons.  That they turned a profit from uncovering this secret along the way never figured into any plans to improve the living conditions of the black Canal Zone population which made up the vast majority.

It turns out that the samples from these potentially risky and painful spinal taps were promptly sent from Panama to The Tuskegee Institute where they presumably underwent screening until they were re-sent to a laboratory in Switzerland- which one is still a mystery. From Silver People Heritage

Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month Series and Giveaway

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2015 | Multicultural Kid BlogsMulticultural Kid Blogs is excited to be hosting its FOURTH annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Throughour the month (September 15 – October 15), you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can enter to win in our great giveaway! Visit our main page for a full schedule of the articles in this series

Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules. Giveaway begins Monday, September 14 and goes through October 15, 2015.

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway: Grand Prize

Grand Prize

Home Learning Series Level A Curriculum from Calico Spanish US Shipping Only

Puzzle and app from Mundo Lanugo US Shipping Only

Sheet of Mexico themed nail wraps from Jamberry US & Canada Shipping Only

Complete set of If You Were Me and Lived In… books (15 countries) from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only

Large Latin American prize basket (scarves, purse, bracelets, books, map) from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only

Growing Up Pedro & Mango, Abuela, and Me (in English or Spanish) from Candlewick Press US & Canada Shipping Only

The Giraffe That Ate the Moon and Caroline’s Color Dreams (bilingual books in English and Spanish) from Bab’l Books US, UK, & Europe Shipping Only

Bienvenidas las raras (bilingual book in English and Spanish) from Delia Berlin

Los Animales CD from Mister G US Shipping Only

Hola Hello CD from Mariana Iranzi US Shipping Only

Bananagrams game in Spanish from Bananagrams US Shipping Only

Kids’ T-shirt from Ellie Elote US Shipping Only

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway: 1st Prize

First Prize

Perú, México and Portugal books from the If You Were Me and Lived In… series from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only

Smaller Latin American prize basket (scarves, purse, bracelets) from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only

Bienvenidas las raras (bilingual book in English and Spanish) from Delia Berlin

Los Animales CD from Mister G US Shipping Only

Hola Hello CD from Mariana Iranzi US Shipping Only

Bananagrams game in Spanish from Bananagrams US Shipping Only

3 picture books: Finding the Music/En pos de la música by Jennifer Torres
Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube by Pat Mora
The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza by Juan Felipe Herrera (in honor of his recently being named the Poet Laureate) from Lee and Low Books US Shipping Only

3 board books: 3 Board Books – Loteria, Zapata, Lucha Libre from Lil’ libros US Shipping Only

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage – Musical Craft and Coloring E-Book from Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou

Kid’s foreign language T-Shirt (available in Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Swahili, Hawaiian, Italian, in infant onesies, toddler and youth sizes tees and tanks; women’s tees and tanks SM-XL) from Mixed Up Clothing US Shipping Only

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway: 2nd Prize

Second Prize

Perú, México and Portugal books from the If You Were Me and Lived In… series from Carole P. Roman US Shipping Only

Smaller Latin American prize basket (scarves, purse) from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only

2 picture books: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya by Monica Brown
Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez from Lee & Low books US Shipping Only

Bienvenidas las raras (bilingual book in English and Spanish) from Delia Berlin

Los Animales CD from Mister G US Shipping Only

Bananagrams game in Spanish from Bananagrams US Shipping Only

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage – Musical Craft and Coloring E-Book from Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou

Bonus Prize!

Luchador piñata

Mexican luchador piñata from Las Piñatas de Laly EU Shipping Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 14
Mommy Maestra on Multicultural Kid Blogs

September 15
Spanish Playground

September 16
The Art Curator for Kids

September 17
Pragmatic Mom

September 18
Multicultural Kid Blogs

September 21
Inspired by Familia

September 22
All Done Monkey

September 23
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

September 24
Mundo de Pepita

September 25
Global Table Adventure on Multicultural Kid Blogs

September 28
Crafty Moms Share

September 29
All Done Monkey

September 30
Mommy Maestra

October 1
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

October 2
Spanglish House

October 5
Mundo de Pepita on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 6

October 7
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

October 8
Kid World Citizen

October 9
Spanish Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 12
Bilingual Avenue

October 13
Spanish Playground

October 14
Spanish Mama

October 15
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay the postage and handling for my giveaways.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Duncan Tonatiuh also has a brand new book out called Funny Bones on artist Lupe Posada and his day of the dead calaveras. I have it out from the library, but I haven’t read it yet.

    And Margarita Engle has so many wonderful novels in verse and picture books. I’m really looking forward to reading her latest, a memoir called Enchanted Air, and another on an abolitionist called The Lightning Dreamer.

  2. Great post, an amazing books too. Just to add to the Hispanic/Latino theme: Hispanic refers to language (Spanish) ; Latino is more Geographic (Latin American countries). For example, People from Spain are Hispanic but not Latinos; Brazilians are Latinos but not Hispanic. Peruvians like me are both Latinos and Hispanic (I speak Spanish; I come form Latin America). Keep up the good job!
    Mariana Llanos recently posted…A Superpower for MeMy Profile

  3. What a wonderful and thorough list of Hispanic books. There are quite a few I want to review, so thank you for the suggestions. Hope I can post something during Hispanic Heritage Month. My blog will be on hiatus Oct 2-18.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…I Am Yoga by Susan Verde and Peter H. ReynoldsMy Profile

  4. Sandra Kowalczyk

    What a wonderful morning I spent reading book descriptions you posted and visiting a myriad of amazing Facebook pages you pointed me towards. Thank you!

  5. Thank you, Mia!! I’m so happy to see such wonderful posts and books highlighting Hispanic culture.
    I feel like I try to celebrate each day by sharing food and stories about our traditions. 🙂
    My son has “Nino” he loves it! We actually just read it this weekend 🙂
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…Mommy Monday Blog Hop {118}My Profile

  6. What the Moon Saw is one of my favorite books EVER!!

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