Must-Read Picture Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated between September 15th and October 15th every year. Ever since my oldest was young, we would honor and celebrate our Hispanic culture and history with books. It is a lovely tradition that we look forward to each year.
I have rounded up various must-read picture books to celebrate Hispanic heritage month. These books vary from stories within the Hispanic and Latinx culture, including voices.
Before we continue, please take a moment to pin this post to your reading board.
All of the Hispanic Heritage Picture Books
This list of books is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and young elementary-aged children. Some titles may be better for slightly older children, as always look into the books on your own, read multiple reviews and use your discernment for choosing the best books for your family.
Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!
‘Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!,’ written by Jonah Winter and Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, is an enthralling tale of Pablo Picasso’s early life and exploration of 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 in 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 an excellent introduction to the artist. The illustrations were captivating and colorful. We highly recommend it as an introduction to Pablo Picasso and his art.
Areli Is a Dreamer A True Story
‘Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient,’ written by Areli Morales and Illustrated by Luisa Uribe.
When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family–and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too.
Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and her schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home. And she saw it as a land of opportunity, where millions of immigrants who came before her paved their own paths. She knew she would, too.
This is a moving story that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country–about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.
Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla
‘Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla,’ written by Diana Lopez and Illustrated by Teresa Martinez.
From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Selena’s dedication will empower young readers–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.
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 they teach one another their native languages and form a close bond over time. 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 about her age, they slowly become friends despite their apparent differences.
My Papi Has A Motorcycle
Daisy Ramona loves her daily motorcycle rides with her Papi around their Southern California town. Their community has many familiar faces and sights, from their librarian shopping for groceries to the lively murals around town celebrating 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 looks at life in a young girl’s Hispanic community.
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 daily 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.
Across the Bay
Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his Abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.
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.
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.
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 brings 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.
Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
In this encouraging picture book, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor uses her experience as a child diagnosed with diabetes to write a story about kids with 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.
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 incorporates Spanish words throughout the text and reminds us of the universal value of reading.
During a revolution, young Marisol is forced to flee the life she knows and loves in vibrant Cuba, leaving her parents and most of her treasured belongings behind. Marisol struggles to adapt to life in America with just one doll and her favorite white dress. But Marisol soon realizes that what she didn’t leave behind is her powerful confidence and ingenuity.
Both timely and timeless, Marisol’s Dress is inspired by the journey of author and artist EMYO’s own family. Featuring the lively impressionist art of EMYO herself, this book leaves young readers moved to face hardship with the courage and creativity of Marisol.
My Name Is Maria Isabel
‘My Name Is Maria Isabel,’ written by Alma Flor Ada and Illustrated by K. Dyble Thompson, was such a remarkable story that opened our eyes and hearts to the meaning of our names. While we have discussed numerous times with Isabella, particularly 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 your troubles at school with your family. A conversation such as what could have happened had Maria Isabel just told her family or teacher what was happening. I highly recommend it for teachers and for books for parents to read with children.
My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz
‘My Name is Celia, The Life of Celia Cruz,’ written by Monica Brown, and illustrated by Rafael Lopez, is an inspirational tale of Celia Cruz’s life. Born in Havana, Cuba. Celia Cruz was among the most popular Salsa performers, recording 23 gold records with legendary Tito Puente. Overcoming 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, and her talent was recognized. The writing and art in this book are outstanding. 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.
Brick by Brick
Papi is a bricklayer who works hard daily to help build the city brick by brick. His son, Luis, works hard too–in school, book by book. Papi climbs scaffolds, makes mortar, and shovels sand. Luis climbs on the playground and molds clay into tiny bricks to make buildings, just like Papi. Together, they dream big about their future as they work to make those dreams come true. And then, one Saturday, Papi surprises Luis with something special he’s built for their family, brick by brick.
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!
My Name is Gabito
Can you imagine a shipwrecked sailor living on air and seaweed for eight days? Can you imagine a trail of yellow butterflies fluttering their wings to songs of love? Once, there was a little boy named Gabito who could. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is perhaps one of the most brilliant writers of our time. He is a tremendous figure, enormously talented, and unabashedly admired. This is his story, lovingly told, for children to enjoy. Using the imagery from his novels, Monica Brown traces the novelist’s life in this creative nonfiction picture book from his childhood in Colombia to today. This story is about an inspiring life full of imagination and beauty.
My Name Is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela
Gabriela Mistral loved words and sounds and stories. Born in Chile, she would grow to become the first Nobel Prize-winning Latina woman in the world. As a poet and a teacher, she inspired children across many countries to let their voices be heard. This beautifully crafted story, where words literally come to life, is told with the rhythm and melody of a poem. The second in Luna Rising’s bilingual storybook biography series. My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela is beautiful tribute to a woman who taught us the power of words and the importance of following our dreams. The story of Gabriela Mistral will continue to inspire children everywhere.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
When Cesar Chavez led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers.
But Cesar wasn’t always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive. Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that—maybe—he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.
Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers
Dolores is a teacher, a mother, and a friend She wants to know why her students are too hungry to listen, why they don’t have shoes to wear to school.
Dolores is a warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker. When she finds out that the farm workers in her community are poorly paid and working under dangerous conditions, she stands up for their rights.
This is the story of Dolores Huerta and the extraordinary battle she waged to ensure fair and safe workplaces for migrant workers. The powerful text, paired with Robert Casilla’s vibrant watercolor-and-pastel illustrations, brings Dolores’s fantastic journey to life. A timeline, additional reading, articles, websites, and teacher resources are included.
Too Many Tamales
Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen, and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over, and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment, and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring . . .
This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales, of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble, and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.
Pele, King of Soccer
‘Pele King of Soccer‘ is about the fantastic 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 luck helped him 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. 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.
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 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 unique individuals. They worked hard and never gave up on giving those what they deserved. If you are looking for a book to help teach about Cesar Chavez or Migrant Farmworkers to young children, this may be the book for you. Written in both English and Espanol with vibrant and colorful illustrations that bring the story to life for the reader.
Pablo Neruda Poet of the People
‘Pablo Neruda Poet of the People‘ is another mesmerizing book by Monica Brown and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. This book introduces the reader to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, whose birth name was Neftali. He had to change his name 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.
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.
Viva Frida written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. This book was recommended to us, and we were excited to read it. It has very minimal wording which was a disappointment. But the illustrations are a work of art all on their own. The book although minimal in text is lovely with its bilingual and exploratory. You feel like you are Frida exploring and learning about yourself in this journey. We particularly liked the author’s note at the end of the book which shined a light on who Frida was and how she inspired her.
Tito Puente, Mambo King
Tito Puente, Mambo King, written by Monica Brown, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This book was a fun read! Learning about Tito Puente and his interest in music from a young age and how he became the Mambo King we know and love was truly extraordinary. We loved the rhythmic beats brought to life in this book. Such an enjoyable read, that was yet another bilingual storybook!
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in The Bronx
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in The Bronx; this book sets the stage for inspiration like no other. Sonia Sotomayor is an amazing woman, proud of her Latina roots. She shows how education and hard work is essential and how with hard work and determination and support you can do anything. She is indeed an inspiration to many. Overcoming many obstacles to be the first-ever Latina US Supreme Court Justice. This book was another fantastic bilingual read.
Separate is Never Equal: Slyvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
Separate is Never Equal: Slyvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuth was an eye-opening book, that we genuinely recommend as a must-read. We hear over and over about so many other cultures being segregated, but the Latin stories often get pushed aside. This book shows how we had to fight for quality education. The injustices so many faces just because they are different. Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. Sylvia was an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English. She was denied enrollment in a school because of her skin tone, and her name. Her parents supported her and fought like heck to get justice.
A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez
A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Micheal S. Adler is a book we read last year that we revisited this year, it is such a good book that teaches you about Cesar Chavez who dedicated his life to helping American farmworkers. We love that this story touches on his childhood and how he grew up. He fought for fair wages and working conditions.
Me, Frida was written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by David Diaz this book introduces you to Frida, the doting wife of Diego Rivera. In this book, she explores her surroundings and finds beauty in America even though she desperately misses Mexico. She finds her own voice in this book.
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh is about two cousins one who lives in Mexico and one who lives in America. They write letters back and forth and even though they are miles apart they learn how their lives may be different but also amazingly similar.
Download A Printable Version of The Hispanic Heritage Month Picture Book List
Want to take this list to the library or bookstore? Print out a copy for yourself.
All of the Hispanic Heritage Month Picture Books
These are not all the amazing picture books offered to celebrate Hispanic heritage but they are many of the ones we have enjoyed in our family. We have an older post that shares a few more picture books we love. We also shared a list of fantastic reads for middle-grade readers. Want even more books? Check out our Hispanic Heritage Book List on our Amazon storefront. We are constantly adding new titles.