We want our children to grow up in a world that looks up to cultural diversity as a strength. Sooner or later, they are going to be mixing with multicultural groups and making friends with them, so why not start teaching them about it when they are young?
There are very few limitations for parents catering to their children’s educational needs these days. It can start with television, toys, books, and even online classes. Books are and will always be the perfect narrators of stories from around the world. They are the perfect tools to represent the beauty and strength that lies within culturally diverse social and workgroups.
We’ve compiled a list of five books that we believe are perfect for your teens and kids to read and learn more about Latin culture. Whether it is your first brush with Latin culture or you are already familiar with a multicultural society, your family will surely enjoy reading about Mexican traditions, lifestyle, and more.
With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The first book on this list details the interesting journey of a teenage mother who’s learning to navigate through life and discovering more about her passion for cooking. This book beautifully deals with the conflicts and commitments she has to face in a rapidly growing world in order to keep her daughter and her Abuela safe.
Emoji Santiago, the protagonist, also sheds a deeper light on how to keep your passion alive in a society that pushes down on women. If you want to teach your children about independent decision-making and the hardships of following your passion in a different light, then you must check this book out. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
The Life of Selena (La Vida de Selena) by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, illustrated bu Citlali Reyes
The life of Selena takes us through an inspiring journey about the “Queen of Tejano Music.” This bilingual picture book is a result of the collaborative efforts between Patty Rodriguez, Ariana Stein, Citlali Reyes. It subtly brushes through the many colors of Mexican culture as seen through the eyes of a courageous little girl.
If you’re curious about what type of music she played and you want to expose your child to it, why not hire a band to immerse yourself into it more? No matter where you live, it shouldn’t be hard to find Tejano music near you. By having them play for you and your kids, it’ll be a fantastic way to give your children a taste of the music from other cultures. [board book, ages 1 and up]
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez
If you are up for a holiday classic that showcases the never-ending tamales of a Mexican-American family in the form of light humor, then you must give this book a shot. It starts with the main character, a young lady by the name of Maria, who is really excited and looking forward to a perfect Christmas Eve.
This book takes you on a journey with Maria and her cousins who desperately try to stay away from trouble – and yet manage to secure a great Christmas celebration in the end. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to explore Mexican holiday traditions. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
This is a bestselling coming-of-age classic, which has turned thousands of fans all over the world. You may even encounter this book at some schools and universities, where they use it to enlighten issues around women and cultural diversity. It follows the story of a young Latino girl who is discovering herself in a step-by-step manner.
What’s noteworthy about this book is that it tells the story in a series of vignettes, which can overload you with emotions sometimes. Few other books have been able to achieve the amount of popularity and impact this book has made in recent years. [young adult, ages 14 and u\p]
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
This young adult novel is a near accurate description of the typical cultural stereotypes and societal pressures an average Mexican girl faces in her life. Go on this journey with a family that is learning how to deal with the loss of a family member in the best way they can. It eventually takes you on a path that details the sensitive nature of sibling relationships. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
We can all agree that learning about the glorious interplay of language, food, and tradition amongst different cultures is always fun and educational. Many of the books that we mentioned in this list are already on the recommended list for elementary and middle school students. And with this list of great books in hand, you’ll be able to enrich the cultural education of your children.
Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels
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Looking for more diverse books for kids and teens? All my multicultural, diverse, and inclusive lists are here.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.