Read Globally: 6 Kids’ Books Inspired by the Dominican Republic
by Devon A. Corneal
The Dominican Republic is a fascinating country, and the stories that have come from authors dedicated to telling stories of its people and legends are equally compelling. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is a place of immense history and a people who have survived colonization and dictatorships to share its great musicians, artists, and athletes with the wider world. But it may be in the more intimate stories of individual lives that this extraordinary country finds its way into our hearts.
We’ve collected a few picture books and middle grade reads that we think capture just a small piece of the beauty of the Dominican Republic.
The Secret Footprints
The Dominican legend of the ciguapas is brought to life in this captivating picture book. Although the secretive ciguapas normally avoid contact with humans, Guapa can’t help herself. When she is discovered by a young boy, Guapa must decide whether to remain hidden or reach out to form a new friendship.
(Ages 3 – 7)
In a school of immigrants, a teacher asks students to draw pictures about where their families come from. Unfortunately, one of the students, a young girl named Lola, can’t remember the island on which she was born. Thankfully, her family steps in to help her remember the vibrant colors, sounds, people, and history of the place they used to call home.
(Ages 5 – 8)
How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay
Recommended to me by a Dominican mother (of the cutest little boy you’ve ever seen), How Tia Lola Came to Stay, is the first of a series of books about the amazing Tia Lola, who moves from the Dominican Republic to snowy, cold Vermont to help care for her niece and nephew. Author Julia Alvarez describes Tia Lola as “Mary Poppins with a Spanish accent,” and her story of a loving aunt captures all of the magic of island life and the warmth of extended family.
(Ages 8 – 12)
Growing up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues
Baseball season is the perfect time to celebrate one of the game’s great pitchers Pedro Martínez and his journey from the Dominican Republic to the major leagues. There’s plenty of baseball to be had, but the true beauty of the book is the moving story of two brothers and the bond they kept as Pedro traveled from their small hometown to the biggest ballparks in the United States.
(Ages 8 – 12)
The Color of My WordsAvailable from:
Ana Rosa aspires to be a writer, to tell the stories of the people and places around her, but that isn’t easy in the Dominican Republic where words are carefully monitored and controlled. Yet Ana persists, even when it seems impossible, so that others may see her country the way she does.
(Ages 8 – 12)Available from:
Before We Were Free
Julia Alvarez and her family fled the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic when she was ten, but in Before We Were Free, she writes about what life might have been like had she stayed. Told through the eyes of a young girl named Anita, Alvarez imagines a terrifying life of oppression in Latin America that far too many children had to endure. Readers who’ve read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl will find another extraordinary young woman to admire.
(Ages 10 – 14)