Growing up, it was difficult to find books that spoke to my experience as a Black Latina. Although there were a few books I could turn to like Amazing Grace, which served as a reminder that I can be whatever I want to be as a young Black woman, or The American Girls book collection featuring Addy Walker, a young slave, which provided an early introduction to the transatlantic slave trade, there were barely enough to capture the diversity of the African Diaspora or all that comprise the Latinx community. I rarely, if at all, came across any children’s books with a Latinx protagonist.
So, it’s great to see the increasing number of children’s books featuring Latinx protagonists and Latinidad in its entirety. Here are 20 Latinx children’s books every parent should get for their child.
By Jonah Winter, Edel Rodriguez (Illustrator)
Sonia Sotomayor made history in 2009 when she became the first Latinx Supreme Court Justice in the United States. The bilingual biography takes you through the South Bronx-born Puerto Rican justice’s life from poverty to her seat in our nation’s highest court. This is a great Latinx children’s book to teach young children to never give up on their dreams and keep fighting for their passions.
By Meg Medina, Angela Dominguez (Illustrator)
Love and patience serve as a bridge to language and understanding for Mia and her abuela. When Mia’s abuela comes to stay, she discovers she’s unable to read the words of her favorite book because they speak different languages. Over time, they teach one another their native tongues in this cross-generational story about a bond between una nieta and her abuela. This is a great Latinx children’s book to teach young children about the importance of language and communication.
By Julia Alvarez, Fabian Negrin (Illustrator)
In this Dominican folktale on the ciguapas, human-looking creatures who live in underwater caves, only venturing out at night, a very bold ciguapa named Guapa befriends a human boy around her age. The story serves as an example that you can befriend others despite their differences.
By Duncan Tonatiuh
The origin story for two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, located south of Mexico City, it chronicles the eternal love between Princess Itza and a warrior, Popoca. Itza’s father agrees Popoca may have her hand in marriage after defeating Jaguar Claw, ruler of a neighboring land, but when Jaguar Claw tricks Popoca into thinking she’s dead after giving her slumber-inducing poison, he remains by her side. It begins to snow, turning them into two volcanoes. Nahuatl words are included in the story, as well as a glossary. It’s the perfect Latinx children’s book to teach young children about Indigenous stories.
By Marjuan Canady, Nabeeh Bilal (Illustrator)
In this tale, an abuela sends her granddaughter Marisol and friend Winston to run an errand that turns into an adventure as the duo decides to go to Puerto Rico to free the golden coqui in El Yunque Rainforest and break the spell cast by the chupacabra. The question is, will they make it back in time for Nochebuena dinner?
By Sulma Arzu-Brown, Isidra Sabio (Illustrator)
NBC News describes it as a Latinx children’s bilingual book “that encourages young Black, Afro-Latino, and multi-racial girls to see themselves, and their hair, as beautiful.” The empowering book is disrupting the notion of what pelo malo (bad hair) is, emphasizing self-acceptance as it pertains to hair for young women globally.
By Carmen Agra Deedy, Michael Austin (Illustrator)
Based on a witty Cuban folktale, Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, a beautiful cucaracha, puts romantic suitors to the test. As they fail her abuela’s “coffee test,” she wonders if she’ll ever find true love. There’s one man standing, what will happen when Martina offers him café cubano?
By Monica Brown, Rafael Lopez (Illustrator)
This bilingual storybook-styled biography takes readers through The Queen of Salsa’s early life in Havana, Cuba to her musical career and her big move to the U.S. It’s a great Latinx children’s book to teach your young kids about what Celia Cruz means to the Latin music community and the impact she had.
By Omar S. Castañeda, Enrique O. Sanchez (Illustrator)
Esperanza, a young Guatemalan girl, and her grandmother bond over weaving beautifully colored Mayan tapestries. Her abuela, who is incredibly skilled at weaving, is passing down the tradition and the two work to sell their creations at la marqueta.
By Carmen Tafolla, Magaly Morales (Illustrator)
This bilingual book introduces children to the traditional, frozen, fruit-flavored Mexican treat: a paleta. They’ll quickly learn how they, too, can create the tasty masterpiece.
By Roseanne Thong, John Parra (Illustrator)
“Red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake.” A lively, rhyming book about colors, Green is a Chile Pepper features objects Latinx in origin but that children of all backgrounds will comprehend.
By Alma Flor Ada, Elivia Savadier (Illustrator)
The weekends are a very special time for the young girl in this book. Saturdays are spent with her European-American grandparents, and on Sundays, she visits her abuelito y abuelita, who are Mexican-American. This story teaches children that despite the cultural differences, their love is the same. A great read for multicultural kids discovering their heritages and backgrounds.
By Zetta Elliott
Although hesitant to visit a boutique that sells handmade dolls, Max goes and meets Señor Pepe, who has been making dolls since he was a boy in Honduras. He leaves Max with an important message: “There is no shame in making something beautiful with your hands. Sewing is a skill just like hitting a baseball or fixing a car.”
By Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velásquez (Illustrator)
This book follows the life of Afro–Puerto Rican activist and historian Arturo Schomburg. His life’s passion to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African Diaspora and amplify the achievements of people of African descent through the ages led to what is today known as the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
By Margarita Engle, Rafael López (Illustrator)
Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl, who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, the drum dream girl longs to play the congas and the bongós, but must practice in secret. The inspiring story ends with the disbanding of the gender-based rule and both girls and boys were free to drum and dream.
By Marjorie Agosin, Lee White (Illustrator)
Life changes abruptly for Celeste Marconi, an 11-year-old dreamer, when warships are spotted in her town of Valparaiso, Chile and classmates begin disappearing. Based on true events, the new government declares artists, protesters, and anyone who helps the needy to be dangerous to the country’s future, so Celeste’s parents go into hiding and send her to America to protect her.
By Elizabeth Acevedo
The Poet X follows a young, Harlem-bred Dominican-American girl, Xiomara Batista, who enjoys the influence of slam poetry as a form of expression as she struggles to identify with her family, faith, and relationships. This is a great book to help young Latinx kids learn the importance of trusting their own voice.
By Angela Cervantes
A volunteer at the local animal shelter, Gaby Ramirez Howard forms a bond with the strays. She feels a bit displaced herself as her mother has been deported to Honduras and she’s left to stay with her inattentive father. However, she’s eager for her mother to return, so she can adopt her favorite shelter cat but when the cat’s original owners show up, Gaby fears her shot at a family will fall through.
By Juan Felipe Herrera, Raúl Colón (Illustrator)
A beautiful portrait accompanied by a biography, quotes and timelines, Portraits of Hispanic Heroes showcases 20 notable Latinx figures who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics, to name a few fields.
By Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Yes! We Are Latinos presents profiles of 13 fictional Latinx American characters coupled with historical information about the countries their families derive from. The book is a resource for young Latinx children to see themselves, as well as a great way for non-Latinx readers to learn more about the diversity of our cultural contributions.
Whether it’s Latinx Heritage Month or National Book Month, these stories are perfect to cuddle up with the kids to read and learn one page at a time.