Must-Read Children’s Books for Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month Must-Reads

Did you know that September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month? During this time, we like to recognize and celebrate the Hispanic/Latin Culture and contributions made by the Hispanic/ Latin people. Hispanic / Latinos have been a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. Every year we love sharing fun stories that celebrate or educate our Hispanic heritage. If you didn’t know, I’m half Ecuadorian and half Italian. Therefore, I strive to teach my children about their cultures as well as others. I believe teaching children about various cultures teach them to be open-minded, respectful, and inclusive of those around them.  Before we jump into this list of must read children’s books for Hispanic heritage month, please take a moment to pin this post to your homeschool board.

*Disclaimer, this post does contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase I will receive a commission with no extra cost to you, thank you for your support.

Must-Read Children’s Books For Hispanic Heritage Month

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising,’ by Pam Munoz Ryan is about a young girl named Esperanza who is the daughter of the wealthy owner of La Rancho de la Rosas in Mexico. We meet her at the age of 6 and quickly jump to her turning 13 when her life begins to change drastically. Tragedy takes hold of her life and doesn’t want to release it. Esperanza has to learn how to roll with the punches. We go on a journey with her as she transforms from a rich and entitled young lady in Mexico to a socially conscious fighter (not literally) in America. She learns a lot through this story and her character definitely evolves.

‘Esperanza Rising,’ is a beautifully written story. It takes you on the emotional roller coaster of Esperanza’s youth. It literally had me in tears at a point. It teaches the reader so much about the culture, family, and social issues such as immigration and migrant farming. It will leave you on the edge of your seat, you will want to know what is going to happen next and when and if everything is going to get better for our protagonist. I can not say enough about this book. It is simply a must-read!

Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, this coming-of-age tale by New York Times best-selling author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Just Behave Pablo Picasso

Just Behave Pablo Picasso,’ written by Jonah Winter Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, is an enthralling tale of Pablo Picasso’s early life and exploration with art. Through this book, we learned how Pablo Picasso was a well-renowned artist, admired by the masses. That was until he started experimenting with different techniques with his art. Taking inspiration from African masks and adding it to his paintings resulted in a complete 180 from his fans. Now everyone was passing judgment on Picasso and asking him to paint sensibly. But the world around Picasso was not sensible, so he met the criticism of others with “the chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” We thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is a great introduction to the artist. The illustrations were captivating and colorful. We highly recommend it as an introduction to Pablo Picasso and his art.

My Name Is Maria Isabel

My Name Is Maria Isabel,’ written by Alma Flor Ada Illustrated by K. Dyble Thompson was such a wonderful story that really opened our eyes and hearts to the meaning of our names. While we have discussed numerous times with Isabella in particular why she has the name she has, this story brought a new light to the meaning of names and how important they are for most people.

Our names are links to our culture, ancestors, family, and beliefs. This book teaches sensitivity especially when it comes to cultural differences. Maria Isabel is a great conversation starter. For example, being afraid to share troubles you are having at school with family. A conversation such as what could have happened if  Maria Isabel just told her family or teacher what was going on. I highly recommend it for teachers and for books for parents to read with children.

The First Rule of Punk

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
 
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Yes! We Are Latinos: Poems and Prose about the Latino Experience

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.

Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States

Growing up Latino in America means speaking two languages, living two lives, learning the rules of two cultures. Cool Salsa celebrates the tones, rhythms, sounds, and experiences of that double life. Here are poems about families and parties, insults and sad memories, hot dogs and mangos, the sweet syllables of Spanish, and the snag-toothed traps of English. Here is the glory―and pain―of being Latino American.

Mango, Abuela, and Me

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.

The Secret Footprints

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.

Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, Bravo!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera

My Papi Has A Motorcycle

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

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: My Life Story

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.

Carmen Learns English

Carmen Learns English,’ by Judy Cox tells a story about Carmen’s first day of school which can be scary especially when you don’t speak English and no one else speaks your language. Carmen only speaks Spanish, Her teacher and classmates speak English. She ends up teaching the class Spanish words and Numbers and learning English. A fun read!

Alma and How She Got Her Name

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.

La Princesa and the Pea

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.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with KidLit and learning about these amazing Hispanic Americans.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

‘Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes,’ written by Juan Felipe Herrera illustrated by Raul Colon is devoted to 20 important and inspirational Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Americans who have helped shape United States history in some way. With a wide range of influential people, Herrera shares short motivational biographies for each. Including the usual popular picks for people of influence, with regards to Hispanic Americans. Like Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor and Roberto Clemente.

However, Herrera goes one step further. Writing about people from the arts, such as Desi Arnaz, Joan Baez, and Rita Moreno. People from the field of science such as Luis W. Alvarez and Ellen Ochoa. Additionally, the lesser-known figures such as Julia de Burgos, Judith F. Baca, and Ignacio E. Lozano.

You could not help by be inspired as you read and learn about each individual and their life and accomplishments.

My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz

‘My Name is Celia, The Life of Celia Cruz,’ written by Monica Brown, illustrated by Rafael Lopez is an inspirational tale of Celia Cruz’s life. Born in Havana, Cuba. Celia Cruz was one of the most popular Salsa performers of all time, recording 23 gold records with legendary Tito Puente.  Overcoming plenty of adversity such as not being allowed to sing in certain places because of the color of her skin and relocating from her native country to America. Her life was not easy, nothing was handed to her. She worked hard to and her talent was recognized. The writing and art in this book are amazing. The images are bright and colorful just like Celia and her music. The rhythmic text guides us on the journey of Celia’s life. Monica strikes gold again with this book. Check out this book to introduce your little one to Celia Cruz.

Pablo Neruda Poet of the People

‘Pablo Neruda Poet of the People,’ is another mesmerizing book written by Monica Brown, illustrated by Julie Paschkis. This book introduces the reader to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who was birth name was Neftali. He had to change his name in order to publish his poems because his father disapproved of his writing! Brown’s words are lyrical, swirling on the page, and bringing color to Pablo’s story. Informing the reader of many things that inspired Pablo and made him who he was. I highly recommend this book, it is perfect for Hispanic Heritage Month or if you are learning about poets and/or poetry.

Side By Side

‘Side by Side,’ is a bilingual story about Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Introducing these two historical figures. Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta who came from different socioeconomic means, yet find themselves as friends working together to make a change. ‘Side by Side,’ is perfect for young children. It introduces these historical figures, who established the United Farm Workers Association in 1962 and the Immigration Act of 1986. This book is not a list of facts, it is an engaging story about two historical and amazing individuals. They worked hard and never gave up to give those what they deserved. If you are looking for a book to help teach about Cesar Chavez or Migrant Farmworkers to young children that this may be the book for you. Written in both English and Espanol with vibrant and colorful illustrations that really bring the story to life for the reader.

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

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.

Side By Side

Pele King of Soccer,’ is about the amazing Brazilian soccer superstar Pele. He was a poor kid born in Brazil. Pele didn’t have an easy life. He struggled with poverty, not enough money to buy shoes or a real soccer ball. However, he was determined and hard-working. That determination, talent, hard work, and even a little bit of luck helped him to overcome the obstacles.  Pele overcame obstacles such as being poor and not being able to all the advantages money can give you.

This book is wonderfully written in both English and Spanish. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful. Definitely a great addition to the already engaging biography.  Pele King of Soccer teaches about the life of the most famous soccer superstar, World Cup Champion Pele.  Additionally, teaching how you can survive and even thrive without much. Pele couldn’t afford shoes to play soccer as a child nor could he afford a ball. He made do with what he had and still succeeded. That is a good message.

Waiting for the Biblioburro

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.

Tortuga In Trouble, Count on Culebra, Fiesta Fiasco, Manana Iguana

Tortuga in Trouble, Fiesta Fiasco, Manana Iguana, and Count on Culebra by Ann Whitford Paul are adorable titles for little readers. These books are fun, entertaining tales about friendship. Learn Spanish vocabulary along the way.

Islandborn

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.

Who Was Frida Kahlo?

‘Who Was Frida Kahlo?’ written by Sarah Fabiny illustrated by Jerry Hoare is an amazing book for children to learn about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This book is perfect for anyone interested in an in-depth look at Frida Kahlo’s life. It is a lovely book with wonderful illustrations and it is, completely age-appropriate. There were even additional historical facts included about the time and places Frida lived through/in. We highly recommend this book to you if you are interested in learning about Frida Kahlo.

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring

Paloma Marquez is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She’s hoping that spending time in Mexico will help he unlock memories of they time thet spent together. While in Mexico, Paloma befriends Lizzie and Gael, who are brother and sister and present Paloma with an irresistible challenge. They want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to Frida Kahlo. What better way to honor her father than returning a priceless piece of jewlery that once belonged to his favorite artist. However, the siblings have a secret. Do they really want to return the ring or are they after something else?

The suspense this novel builds up! We loved learning a little about Frida Kahlo while also being on an exciting mystery to find her missing ring. There are twists and turns, secrets, lies, loyalty, betrayal and so much more. If you haven’t read it yet. Make sure you do!

Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself

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.

Free resources to use when learning about Frida:

PBS has a Teacher’s Guide and Parent’s Guide for the Life and Times of Frida geared toward the 10th-12th grade.

Check out Lottie.com’s biography of Frida for kids

Check out Jammies Collage for an amazing Artist Study pack, which includes copy work and note-booking pages we used it for copy work and to write down some facts from the story we read.

Check out this site for Frida and Diego Coloring Pages

Art Pages:

We collected a couple of coloring pages from the internet and experimented with different media.

Earlier this week we posted some fun activities we were doing on Instagram.

frida-kahlo

The Printable is from Pearmama.com and we experimented with watercolor pencils. We loved that we were able to design Frida’s body cast with our own art.

frida-kahlo-oil

The Printable was also from Pearmama via latinamom.me, with this color sheet we experimented with oil pastels.

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