We all know, kids learn from their parents. Whether we think so or not, they’re always watching, picking up on our viewpoints, opinions, and what we do on a daily basis to shape their own beliefs and who they will become.
So it’s important, when we have the opportunity, to expose them to all kinds of cultures, people, beliefs; so they can become well-rounded, accepting adults.
Hispanic Heritage Month is one of those great opportunities and there are a lot of great kids’ books out there so we can start them young.
Here’s a list of some of the ones we’ve found.
Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa”), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfect idea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.
Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera, Illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Have you ever imagined what you might be when you grow up? When he was very young, Juan Felipe Herrera picked chamomile flowers in windy fields and let tadpoles swim across his hands in a creek. He slept outside and learned to say good-bye to his amiguitos each time his family moved to a new town. He went to school and taught himself to read and write English and filled paper pads with rivers of ink as he walked down the street after school. And when he grew up, he became the United States Poet Laureate and read his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? With this illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, Illustrated by Zeke Peña
When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her Papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her Papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.
A Birthday Basket for Tía by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Cecily Lang
Today is Tía’s birthday! Cecilia wants to surprise her great-aunt with a very special present. But what could it be? Could it be Tía’s favorite mixing bowl that she and Cecilia used to make delicious bizcochos? Could it be a ball like the one Tía played with as a little girl in Mexico? With the help of her cat, Chica, Cecilia plants the perfect surprise. And Tía has a very special surprise for Cecilia, too!
Doña Flor by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Raul Colón
Doña Flor is a giant lady who lives in a tiny village in the American Southwest. Popular with her neighbors, she lets the children use her flowers as trumpets and her leftover tortillas as rafts. Flor loves to read, too, and she can often be found reading aloud to the children. One day, all the villagers hear a terrifying noise: it sounds like a huge animal bellowing just outside their village. Everyone is afraid, but not Flor. She wants to protect her beloved neighbors, so with the help of her animal friends, she sets off for the highest mesa to find the creature. Soon enough, though, the joke is on Flor and her friends, who come to rescue her, as she discovers the small secret behind that great big noise.
My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders by René Colato Laínez, Illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Young René's mother has sent him a new pair of shoes from the United States. He loves his new shoes. “They walk everywhere I walk. They jump every time I jump. They run as fast as me. We always cross the finish line at the same time.”
René—with his new shoes—and his father set off on the long journey to meet his mother in the United States. He says goodbye to his friends in El Salvador, and “Uno, dos, tres, my shoes and I are ready to go.” The trip is difficult. They take buses and walk across El Salvador, into Guatemala and then into Mexico. His brand-new shoes lose their shine, turning dirty and gray. They become elephants, pushing against the wind; race cars, fleeing hungry dogs; swim shoes, escaping floods; and submarines, navigating through sticky mud. When holes appear on the soles of his shoes, his father won’t let him give up. “René, my strong boy, we want to be with Mamá.”
Sharing his own experiences, René Colato Laínez’s moving bilingual picture book brings to life the experiences of many young children who make the arduous journey from Central America to the United States in search of a better life.
This lovingly-illustrated picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.
Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her “girls can’t be superheroes,” suddenly she doesn’t feel so mighty. That’s when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition. Cloaked in a flashy new disguise, Lucía returns as a recess sensation! But when she’s confronted with a case of injustice, Lucía must decide if she can stay true to the ways of the luchadora and fight for what is right, even if it means breaking the sacred rule of never revealing the identity behind her mask. A story about courage and cultural legacy, Lucía the Luchadora is full of pluck, daring, and heart.
Pelé: King of Soccer by Monica Brown, Illustrated by Rudy Gutiérrez
Do you know how a poor boy from Brazil who loved fútbol more than anything else became the biggest soccer star the world has ever known? This is the true story of Pelé, King of Soccer, the first man in the history of the sport to score a thousand goals and become a living legend. This bilingual picture book will inspire, teach, and amaze readers as they learn about the man who revolutionized the sport of soccer.
¡Yum! & ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Rafael López
Peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more-here is a luscious collection of haiku celebrating foods native to the Americas. Brimming with imagination and fun, these poems capture the tasty essence of foods that have delighted, united, and enriched our lives for centuries. Exuberant illustrations bring to life the delicious spirit of the haiku, making Yum! ¡Mmm! ¡Qué Rico! America’s Sproutings an eye-popping, mouth-watering treat. Open it and dig in!
We know there are many more great books out there for Hispanic Heritage Month than just what’s on this list-- share your favorites in the comments below!