Celebrating Hispanic and Latino Culture Through Children’s Literature
Mid-September marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, a tribute to the contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the US.
You may be wondering how you can celebrate Hispanic and Latino cultures as a family, especially if you have little ones. One way is through literature. Reading books about Hispanic and Latino people can be a great way to teach children about different backgrounds, to show them that their own ethnicities can and should be represented in print, and to foster empathy and social awareness.
To help get you started, we’ve rounded up eight books written by and depicting Hispanic and Latino authors and characters.
9 Children’s Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
- “Dreamers” by Yuyi Morales (ages 4-8). In 1994, Yuyi Morales came to the United States with her infant son. As an immigrant, she missed many things about Mexico and often felt invisible because she didn’t speak English. The world opened to her when she was introduced to the public library, where she spent hours reading and learning. Poignant, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated, “Dreamers” tells her story.
- “¡Pío Peep!” by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Alice Schertle, and Vivi Escriva (ages 2-8). “¡Pío Peep!” is a lively anthology of traditional Latin American nursery rhymes, available in Spanish and English editions (comes with a CD).
- “Carmela Full of Wishes” by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson (ages 4-8). From the pair who brought us “Last Stop on Market Street” comes the award-winning, best-seller, “Carmela Full of Wishes.” In it, we see a vibrant Mexican-American community through a young girl’s eyes.
- “What Can You Do With a Paleta?” by Carmen Tafolla and Magaly Morales (3 to 8) is a jubilant celebration of life in a San Antonio barrio as children wait for the paleta man and his icy, sweet treats.
- “Moon Rope” by Lois Ehlert (ages 3 to 8). In Lois Ehlert’s classic take on a Peruvian folk tale, Fox and Mole work together to reach the moon. Ehlert’s crisp paper cut illustrations add a graphic element.
- “Miguel and the Grand Harmony,” by Matt de la Pena and Ana Ramírez (ages 3 to 8). Bright, retro illustrations and poetic text by Newbery winner Matt de la Pena make this tale about family, ethnic traditions, and music worth exploring.
- “Tito Puente Mambo King,” by Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez (ages 4 to 8). This colorful, lively book celebrates the life and music of Tito Puente.
- “Just Ask!” by Sonia Sotomayor (ages 4 to 8). Written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, and illustrated by award-winning artist Rafael López, “Just Ask” introduces the reader to several differently-abled children. Warm, positive, and inclusive.
- “Islandborn” by Junot Diaz and Leo Espinosa (early school-age and older). This book tells the story of Lola, who can’t remember the island (Dominican Republic) where she was born. When she asks her family and neighbors about it, she realizes that the island will always be a part of her.
We hope you enjoy reading these selections as a family and feel encouraged to have meaningful conversations about Hispanic and Latino cultures all year round!