Celebrated at the beginning of November every year, Día de los Muertos is a time of remembrance for our deceased loved ones, to honor them by building altars complete with photos, candles, marigolds, sugar skulls, and their favorite foods. It’s also the perfect opportunity to give love to our Indigenous roots and the many Indigenous cultures that are an essential part of our Latinx identities and made this holiday possible. Now more than ever, it’s important that we pass on these traditions and knowledge to our children and the other young ones in our lives. But you might be wondering where to start and what might be good teaching tools to give a good overview and captivate their attention.
We’ve made this list of picture books for kids in mind, each giving a unique introduction to Day of the Dead with engaging writing and colorful illustrations. Read on to learn more about six books by Latinx authors that are perfect to introduce your little ones to the spirit of Día de los Muertos.
Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda
Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda follows Mar, a young girl who, through the author’s captivating words and illustrations, teaches readers how her family celebrates the Day of the Dead, from foods to games to stories. Along the way, she’ll find connections and similarities with her deceased relatives through the things they liked to do, like writing and playing the accordion—this is truly a timeless capsule of joy, family, and culture.
Mi Familia by Camila Hernandez
Looking to introduce your young reader to the Spanish alphabet? Look no further than Mi Familia by Camila Hernandez, a bilingual Spanish/English book that will not only encourage a love of reading but also Mexican culture, traditions, and food of all kinds. From raspas to quinceañera, Day of the Dead festivals to Mexico trips, kids are sure to come away with more appreciation for their Mexican roots.
The Festival of Bones by Luis San Vicente
In The Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras by Luis San Vicente, skeletons come to life one day a year—on Day of the Dead! Kids are sure to love this new take on the holiday where calaveras show off their best dance moves, shaking, rattling, and rolling from page to page! Plus, with hand-drawn illustrations, this is sure to give everyone a nice dose of nostalgia for under-appreciated art styles.
Day of the Dead by Marisa Boan
Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos: A Bilingual Book in English and Spanish by Marisa Boan is a good read for your youngest loved ones with its easy-to-read and accessible bilingual writing. Readers will learn all about the important Day of the Dead traditions and customs and the history behind them including altars, sugar skulls, marigolds, breads, candies, music, dancing, and parades. And bonus! The book even comes with a special skeleton craft where kids can color, build, and accessorize their own Day of the Dead skeleton. Accessories include a hat, guitar, flower crown, and dress. Fun for the whole family!
Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Looking for another fun twist on this special day? Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago is the author’s debut picture book following Gustavo, a ghost who is good at being a ghost—like floating through walls and throwing objects—but when no one can see him, he struggles to make friends. When he realizes that it’s almost the Day of the Dead, he makes it his mission to help people notice him, make new friends, and learn lessons about bravery, friendship, and loneliness.
Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales
To round us out, Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales is a great introduction to reading, counting in Spanish and English, and of course, Day of the Dead. This award-winning book centers on a multigenerational family who is visited by a trickster skeleton on the holiday, teaching kids about how to celebrate and embrace their own familial love and traditions.