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13 Picture Books That Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

by Wesley Salazar

Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15 and what better way to celebrate Hispanic culture and history with kids than with picture books? We’ve rounded up informative and inspiring books to honor the wide range of voices and stories within Hispanic culture — from rhyming books to biographies to folktales, there’s something great for every young reader amongst these fiction and nonfiction reads.

  • Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors

    by Roseanne Thong, illustrated by John Parra

    Your family will have a new read-aloud staple in Green Is a Chile Pepper, a fun, rhyming book about colors. Kids of Hispanic heritage are likely to recognize many of the brightly hued objects in the book like masa, tortillas, and spices, but it’s a fun picture book for preschoolers of all cultural backgrounds.
    Ages 3 - 5

  • Viva Frida

    written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, photography by Tim O'Meara

    Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist and feminist icon, is widely remembered for her expressive self-portraits (and signature eyebrows!). In this Caldecott Honor book, Morales introduces young readers to Kahlo’s life and work using a mixed media format that combines photos of puppets with original illustrations, making for an unexpected, joyful celebration of creativity.
    Ages 4 - 8

  • Mango, Abuela, and Me

    by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

    Mia is thrilled when her grandmother, who has always lived far away, comes to stay with Mia and her family. Mia soon finds out her Abuela (grandmother) doesn’t speak English, but over time they teach one another their native languages and form a close bond. Families will love reading the English and Spanish words that make up this sweet cross-generational story about a young girl getting to know her grandmother.
    Ages 5 - 8

  • The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

    by Duncan Tonatiuh

    This is a brand-new picture book retelling of an Aztec myth about how two volcanoes in Mexico, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, were formed. In the legend, Princess Izta searches for a man to marry and receives proposals from a variety of wealthy suitors, but ends up falling in love with a warrior named Popoca instead. Popoca promises to always stay by Izta’s side; legend says the lovers turned into the volcanoes that stand there today.
    Ages 6 - 9

  • Waiting for the Biblioburro

    by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra

    In this picture book, readers meet a young Colombian girl named Ana who loves reading but doesn’t have access to new books. Luckily, librarian Luis Soriano arrives in her village with plenty of books in tow — on the backs of two (appropriately named) donkeys, Alfa and Beto. A simple story, based on a real-life traveling librarian, that incorporates Spanish words throughout the text and reminds us of the universal value of reading.
    Ages 5 - 8

  • Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

    by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

    Harvesting Hope introduces kids to Cesar Chavez (1927 - 1993), the iconic activist who fought for the rights of farmworkers in the United States. It’s a vividly illustrated picture book detailing how the hugely influential Latino leader who popularized the slogan "Sí, se puede,” demonstrated the power of nonviolent protest, spread hope, and demanded change in the face of injustice.
    Ages 4 - 8

  • The Secret Footprints

    by Julia Alvarez, illustrated by Fabian Negrin

    Your family will love diving into the folk tale of the Ciguapas, a Dominican legend about human-like creatures who live underwater and only venture out at night. The Ciguapas typically try to avoid people, but when one curious and courageous Ciguapa girl stumbles upon a human boy who's about her age, they slowly become friends despite their apparent differences.
    Ages 3 - 8

  • Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Creció en el Bronx

    by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez

    If your family doesn’t know the life story of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice ever, this bilingual picture-book biography is for you! Sotomayor didn’t have the easiest childhood; she lost her father young, was raised in a poor neighborhood, and was diagnosed with diabetes as a kid. Even when Sotomayor made it all the way to a prestigious law school, she still faced challenges. But, no matter what struggles Sotomayor encountered, she didn’t let them stop her from achieving greatness.
    Ages 4 - 8

  • I Love Saturdays y Domingos

    by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Elivia Savadier

    Every weekend, the little girl in this story loves to hang out with her two sets of grandparents — her European-American grandparents visit on Saturdays and her Mexican-American grandparents visit on Domingos (Sundays). A sweet read to teach kids that a family’s love knows no color, language, or bounds.
    Ages 5 - 8

  • Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale

    by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin

    Based on the title alone, you might not pick up Martina the Beautiful Cockroach — but you should really give this cockroach a chance. Carmen Agra Deedy's portrayal of a Cuban folktale, with striking artwork by Michael Austin, is a funny, delightful tale about a beautiful cucaracha looking for love ... and the all-knowing wisdom of grandmothers.

  • Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates

    by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Raúl Colón

    Roberto Clemente is a fantastic biography about one of the best baseball players of all time. Kids will be fascinated by Clemente’s story — from his poor upbringing in Puerto Rico to joining the Major Leagues and becoming the first Latino to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. But baseball was only one facet of his life: Clemente notably used his influence for good and was known for his international humanitarian work. The world lost Clemente all too soon when he died in a plane crash in 1972 while on his way to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

  • Yes! We Are Latinos: Poems and Prose About the Latino Experience

    by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by David Diaz

    A true celebration of Hispanic heritage in the United States, Yes! We Are Latinos presents profiles of 13 fictional Latino American characters coupled with historical information about the countries their families came from. This read provides a window into the breadth of diversity amongst Latino people, for Hispanic and non-Hispanic readers alike.
    Ages 10+

  • Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

    by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raul Colon

    With its gorgeous artwork and engaging facts, Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes brings 20 notable Hispanic men and women to life for young readers. Keep a lookout for the profiles of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Roberto Clemente, and more! Pick it up for your older readers or use it as a supplement to your picture book adventures with little ones.
    Ages 8 - 12

*Special thanks to Laura Arnhold, librarian at the Upper Merion Township Library in King of Prussia, for her help in creating this list.

 

Let us know what other great books you’d add to the list above by leaving us a comment below.

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