National Hispanic Heritage Month books for kids, best Latino American books for kids, Best Hispanic American books for kids,

Top 10: Best Latino American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

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]


The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Rafael López

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]

Abuela, latino american picture book, magical realism in picture books,, Pragmatic Mom

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]

I Juan de Pareja, Newbery Award Winner, Latin American children's literature,, Pragmatic Mom

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]

Tomas and the Library Lady, librarians as super heros,, Latin American Chlildren's picture book, Pragmatic Mom

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]

The Tequilla Worm, Viola Canales, Young Adult Latin American Fiction,, Pragmatic Mom

4. Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
This book is so relevant today on the politically inflamatory  topic of immigration.  It plays out in Vermont with the two stories that intersect:  dairy farm owners who are in desperate need of help and Mari’s illegal migrant worker family.   [Young Adult fiction, ages 10-16]
Julia Alvarez, Return to Sender, Young Adult Latin American Fiction,, Pragmatic Mom
3. What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla
A paleta is a Mexican Popsicle and this gorgeously illustrated picture book portrays the glorious wonders of the paleta as well as life in their barrio (neighborhood).  [picture book, ages 2-8]
What Can You do with a Paleta?  Latin American children's picture book,, Pragmatic Mom

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.

Chato's Kitchen, Gary Soto, East LA, cholo picture book,, Pragmatic Mom, latin american children's literature

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]

Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan, immigration children's literature,, Pragmatic Mom, latin american children's books

National Hispanic Heritage Month books for kids, best Latino American books for kids, Best Hispanic American books for kids,

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Bettina

    I just wanted to put my book, Illegal (Harper Collins 2011) on your radar. An Ala quick pick book.

    I enjoy your pins on Pinterest!

  2. Love this list- several new ones on here I hadn’t heard of. I love Pat Mora and haven’t read the new one yet!
    Becky recently posted…Drinks from Around the WorldMy Profile

  3. I just wanted to give you a quick intro on our new middle grade adventure novel on bullying. It was written with the help of my two teenage sons.
    The book features a multi-cultural cast and is also in line with the Common Core Curriculum and has been grade leveled. Thanks for your time.

  4. I wanted to highlight a list that Latinas for Latino Literature put out in December, in response to the NY Times, again, completely ignoring Latino Lit on it’s end-of-year list of children’s literature. This blog does not let me share a single link so you’ll have to Google “Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013” and Latinas for Latino Literature to find it. 🙂

    My book, is honored and included, because it’s groundbreaking as the first bilingual children’s book about why women, including Latinas like me, serve in the U.S. military. In my humble opinion, it is time to get beyond the grandma’s chocolate, girls in the kitchen making tortillas and tamales, using cazuelas (pots) and show empowering images that young Latinas can aspire to, like flying jets!

    Let’s think FORWARD, positively, about what we put in front of children, not always backward like what the offerings in this genre typically look like. Out with the stereotypes, in with the empowered images of highly educated, technically competent women who are Latinas!

    Thank you.Graciela Tiscareño-Sato
    Author, “Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá”
    CaptainMama DOT com ISBN: 978-0-9834760-3-0

  5. Erika R

    “Before We Were Free” is another amazing Latina YA novel. I can’t wait to read the ones on the list that are new to me.

  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderful group of books!! I just read The House on Mango street 🙂 I believe, Too Many Tamales, would be another great book for Hispanic Heritage Month. As usual, I love your lists!
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…Blogging Is Like DatingMy Profile

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