Every kid will love these children's books for Hispanic Heritage Month. It's so important to me that my kids read books that reflect a diversity of experiences. Latino culture has had a huge impact on life here in the US so it stand to reason books reflecting that culture should be part of every child's reading education. Picture books are a great way to introduce a new culture to kids, to expand their understanding of the multicultural world they live in, and to expose them to books that reflect themselves and their friends.
I hope that you find time to read some of these books, not just during the upcoming month-long celebration of Hispanic heritage in the US, but any time of the year. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Niño Wrestles the World is great fun! My youngest son is really into all things "fighting" right now (much to my consternation!) and this Pura Belpré Award winner was a huge hit with him. Using his vivid imagination, Niño wrestles uses his stellar moves, like the "tickle tackle" and the "puzzle muzzle" to best alarming intergalactic opponents, but when it comes to his biggest challenge, "Las Hermanitas", Niño pulls out his very special moves. Niño is imagining himself as a "Lucha Libre" wrestler. An endnote describes this type of theatrical wrestling popular in Spanish-speaking countries.
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combina. Marisol is a favorite character of mine. Red-headed half-Scottish half-Peruvian Marisol bounces off the page with great enthusiasm and loves her mismatched life. When her friend, Ollie, challenges her to “match”, Marisol finds she is unhappy with life as a conformist. This is a great story that emphasizes the importance of embracing and accepting one’s uniqueness. (Text is in both English and Spanish.) It's also on my list of picture books with diverse characters. A Pura Belpré Honor Award Book.
Waiting for the Biblioburro is based on a true story of a traveling library in Colombia. The story focuses on the experience of a young girl waiting for the tell-tale clip-clop of two burros who bring books to remote villages. This is definitely a story that will make you smile and kids will love to compare their own experiences with bookmobiles and libraries to the "biblioburro". I particularly love the folk-style illustrations.
Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo. The swinging, jazzy text tells the story of Puente's life from the time when he was a small child banging out catchy rhythms on pots and pans through his time in the Navy, at Julliard, all the way to the end of his career when he was recognized with 5 Grammys. Swirling illustrations take the reader on a colorful journey. There is a biographical note at the end. A Pura Belpré Honor Award Book.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale, is an allegory in which Pancho sets out to find his father who has not returned after years working as a migrant laborer. He meets Coyote, who promises to help him on the journey in exchange for food. When the food runs out, Rabbit's father saves him from being eaten by Coyote, but he then learns that all the money his father earned was stolen. The pair return home to an uncertain future, and a possible return to the north to work. Author Duncan Tonatiuh tackles an important issue with sensitivity in a way kids can understand (I'd say ages 5 and up). There is a clear message about the importance of family bonds and love. A Pura Belpré Honor Award Book.
Learn about Hispanic labor leaders: Picture Books about the History of Labor
I Love Saturdays y domingos is a wonderfully uplifting story about a girl who spends Saturdays with her English-speaking grandparents and Sundays with her Spanish-speaking abuelos. She describes the joys of each visit and the reader instantly sees the parallels and how much the family loves one another. In the end, everyone comes together for the little girl's birthday. There are a lot of Spanish words and phrases but no glossary (at least not in my library copy), but English-only readers will have no problem understanding the story.
Tomás and the Library Lady is based on the true story of Tomás Rivera, who went on to become the first minority chancellor at the University of California. As the son of migrant workers, Tomás listens every night to stories his grandmother tells him. Then one day, a librarian opens up a whole new world for him. This is an inspiring story of the power of education and reading which will ring true for all children, no matter what their backgrounds.
Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains. I wanted to make sure I included at least one folktale to whet your appetite since my kids and I adore folktales. This is a hilarious trickster tale featuring a wily guinea pig, "Cuy". In an effort to avoid being eaten by Tío Antonio the fox, Cuy manages to convince him that he needs to brace himself under a rock in order to keep the sky from falling. Thus, Cuy sets into motion a series of tricks until Tío Antonio decides the only way he can avoid Cuy’s tricks is to keep far away from him. This book (like all trickster tales) was a favorite of my son.
More here: 14 Latin American folktales
Fiesta Babies. There's no reason not to share Hispanic culture with babies, too! The lively, rhyming text and illustrations feature aspects of Latino culture like music, fiestas, food and of course, besos and abrazos. I really appreciated that illustrator Amy Cordova recognized that not all Latinos have the same skin color! Includes a short glossary. A Pura Belpré Honor Award Book.
Find more multicultural books for babies and toddlers!
Angels Ride Bikes: And Other Fall Poems / Los Angeles Andan en Bicicleta: Y Otros Poemas de Otoño is a bilingual collection of poems that is part of a four book series spanning the seasonal year. Each short poem in free verse is in both Spanish and English, presenting snapshots of a diverse group of children enjoying autumnal life to the fullest.
Find more here:
- Books with Hispanic and Latino Characters (includes books for babies through middle school)
- 50 Children's Books to Take You Around the World
- Art Project for Hispanic Heritage Month
- Learn about Hispanic Heritage Month
- Lesson plans for HHM