From September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring the contributions of Hispanic Americans.
Hispanic Americans are those with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, and Central or South America. And to recognize the importance of this month, I have compiled a list of my favorite diverse children’s books.
While it can be challenging to demonstrate big themes like “cultural contributions” to small children, I believe in starting young. Begin with board books, continue through picture books, and eventually encourage independent reading of diverse authors and voices. By doing so, parents have a chance to share other cultures and experiences with even the youngest readers.
Ranging from board books to middle grade books and spanning from Latin America to the United States, I hope you will enjoy sharing these pieces of Hispanic and Latino cultures with your own children.
Little Elephants/Elefantitos by Susie Jaramillo
Learning language through song is a gift. That’s what makes Elefantitos one of my favorite board books for littles! If you don’t know the tune, watch this Canticos video to guide you.
Islandborn by Junot Díaz
An Afro-Caribbean girl named Lola is assigned a project about her first home, along with the other immigrant students in her class. Since Lola was only a baby when she moved to the US, she doesn’t remember what The Island was like. Join Lola on her journey to rediscover her Dominican homeland.
Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz and illustrated by Micah Player
This story follows a young boy as he walks through the streets of Los Angeles in search of the Paletero Man (the ice cream man). The story reads like a song, which makes this book a pleasure to read aloud.
I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Elivia Savadier
Saturdays and Sundays are days spent with two different sets of grandparents. On Saturdays, the child visits their Grandma and Grandpa from European-American ancestry; on los domingos (Sundays), she visits her Mexican-American Abuelio y Abuelita. Parents and children will enjoy spending a weekend with this multicultural family.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza had a picturesque life in Mexico until tragedy struck that forced her and her mother to flee to California during the Great Depression. The story is an inspiring tale of hardship and hope that can open the door to deep discussion and understanding.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
Twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa) is uprooted in middle school to a new city and school. Just as she makes new friends, her group faces a new challenge. Follow along on Malú’s adventures as she explores rock music, skateboarding, zines, and more.
The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel
This award-winning, coming of age book follows a young girl named Quijana as she grows up and learns how to fit in. Readers are captivated by the honest experience of real-life issues like biculturalism and autism.