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15 Picture Books That Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

by Wesley Salazar

Image credit: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated between September 15 and October 15 of each year. What better way to honor Hispanic culture and history with kids than with picture books? We’ve rounded up informative and inspiring books to recognize the wide range of voices and stories within Hispanic and Latino culture — from biographies to folktales, there’s something great for every young reader amongst these fiction and nonfiction reads.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to hear your story! Share what Hispanic Heritage Month means to you, or your favorite Hispanic author or story, on social media using the hashtag #CuentosUnidos, and we’ll make a donation to We Need Diverse Books.*

*For each social media post using #CuentosUnidos, Penguin Random House will donate $1 to We Need Diverse Books (up to $15,000) in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (from 9/15/19 through 10/15/19).

  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle

    by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña

    Daisy Ramona loves her daily motorcycle rides with her papi around their Southern California town. There are so many familiar faces and sights in their community, from their librarian shopping for groceries to the lively murals around town that celebrate their Mexican-American history. Daisy also can't help but notice the changes in her community - but she knows what (and who) she can hold on to through times of change.

  • Carmela Full of Wishes

    by Matt de la Peña

    Author-illustrator team Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson are back with their first collaboration since the Newbery Medal- and Caldecott Honor-winning Last Stop on Market Street. When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, she's excited to finally be old enough to run the family errands with her big brother. And when she finds a dandelion right outside the laundromat, her brother reminds her she'll have to make a wish before blowing it out. But how will she decide what to wish for? This poignant picture book takes a look at life in a young girl's Hispanic community.

  • Turning Pages

    by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Lulu Delacre

    If your family doesn't know the life story of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and Latina Supreme Court Justice, this picture book autobiography is a must-read. Although her childhood involved grief and difficulty, which included her father's death and her diagnosis of diabetes, Sotomayor found inspiration and comfort in books. Here, she passes on that love for reading while giving us a glimpse of life in public service. For middle grade readers eager to learn more, pick up a copy of The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor.

  • 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.

  • La Princesa and the Pea

    by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

    A Peruvian reimagining of The Princess and the Pea, this one is sure to become a read-aloud favorite. La Princesa must prove that she's of royal makings if she wants to impress her potential mother-in-law, a stern-looking queen who walks around the palace with a mean cat in her hat. The mixed-media artwork and vibrant backdrop combine with rhyming text in Spanish and English to give the classic fairy tale a Latinx twist.

  • Just Ask!

    by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

    In this encouraging picture book, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor uses her own experience as a child diagnosed with diabetes to write a story about kids who have all different challenges. As the children work together to build a community garden, they get to know each other — and how they are different — by asking questions. Sotomayor encourages readers to do the same, and to embrace the things that make us wonderfully unique.

  • The Day of the Dead / El Dia de Los Muertos

    by Bob Barner

    For little ones who fell in love with the wondrous world of Coco (and really, who didn't?), keep the fun going year-round with this bilingual celebration of el Día de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead! With marigold petals and song and dance, one family welcomes their beloved ancestors home on this festive holiday.

  • 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.

  • Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself

    by Margaret Frith, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

    One of the most illustrious artists of all time, Frida Kahlo was endlessly inspired by her homeland of Mexico. In this vibrant addition to the Smart About Art series, Frith introduces young readers to Kahlo's life and work through reproductions of the artist's paintings combined with dePaola's original illustrations - making for an unexpected and joyful celebration of creativity.

  • 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.

  • Alma and How She Got Her Name

    by Juana Martinez-Neal

    Young Alma is learning to write her name, and what a name it is! Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela - try fitting that on a single line. When Alma asks her father why she has so many names, he responds by bringing to life the stories of Alma's ancestors, like her grandmother Sofia, who loved books, and her grandfather José, who made beautiful art. Alma learns her cultural roots through her namesakes, and comes to love every part of her name.

  • The First Rule of Punk

    by Celia C. Pérez

    An absolute charmer for middle grade readers, The First Rule of Punk is helmed by the inimitable 12-year-old Malú who's trying to get by at her new school, appear to be the "perfect señorita" her mother would like her to be, and understand her biracial identity (while also navigating microaggressions from peers). With collage art sprinkled throughout this story, Malú's voice is unforgettable.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Islandborn

    by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

    In Islandborn, a young girl goes on an imaginative quest to rediscover the island she immigrated from but can no longer remember. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Lola's family celebrates their culture every day through food, music, and stories. But Lola doesn't understand why they had to leave, or what it means that she can't remember her birthplace. Her family and friends share their memories and histories, both beautiful and complex, helping Lola see that she's part of both worlds.

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

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2019.