Books to Celebrate National Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month is observed between September 15 and October 15 and honors the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Here are some books to read with kids to celebrate Latinx and Hispanic authors.

A Thousand White Butterflies
By Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams
Illustrated by Gina Maldonado
40 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781580895774 | Charlesbridge
As if being new to the United States wasn’t hard enough, Isabella’s first day of school is canceled due to snow! Isabella has recently arrived from Colombia with her mother and abuela. She misses Papa, who is still in South America. It’s her first day of school, her make-new-friends day, but when classes are canceled because of too much snow, Isabella misses warm, green, Colombia more than ever. Then Isabella meets Katie and finds out that making friends in the cold is easier than she thought!

Areli is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient
By Areli Morales
Illustrated by Luisa Uribe
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893994 | Random House Studio
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 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 – one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country – bout one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that has provided relief to thousands of undocumented children, referred to as “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children and call this country home.

Bright Star
By Yuyi Morales
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443284 | Neal Porter Books
Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Yuyi Morales’s work, this is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier. Yuyi Morales’ first book since her New York Times bestseller Dreamers is a book for very young children looking for their place in a world full of uncertainty. It is a book with resonance for all children, especially those whose safety is threatened due to the immigration crisis in the US.

Coquí in the City
By Nomar Perez
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109038 | Dial Books
Miguel’s pet frog, Coquí, is always with him: as he greets his neighbors in San Juan, buys quesitos from the panadería, and listens to his abuelo’s story about meeting baseball legend Roberto Clemente. Then Miguel learns that he and his parents are moving to the U.S. mainland, which means leaving his beloved grandparents, home in Puerto Rico, and even Coquí behind. Life in New York City is overwhelming, with unfamiliar buildings, foods, and people. But when he and Mamá go exploring, they find a few familiar sights that remind them of home, and Miguel realizes there might be a way to keep a little bit of Puerto Rico with him – including the love he has for Coquí – wherever he goes.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away
By Meg Medina
Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
32 Pages | Ages 5-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207040 | Candlewick
Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend. They do everything together and even live in twin apartments across the street from each other: Daniela with her mami and hamster, and Evelyn with her mami, papi, and cat. But not after today – not after Evelyn moves away. Until then, the girls play amid the moving boxes until it’s time to say goodbye, making promises to keep in touch, because they know that their friendship will always be special. The tenderness of Meg Medina’s beautifully written story about friendship and change is balanced by Sonia Sánchez’s colorful and vibrant depictions of the girls’ urban neighborhood.

Gustavo, The Shy Ghost
By Flavia Z. Drago
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211146 | Candlewick
Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realizes they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves? With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture-book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

Lotería
By Karla Arenas Valenti
Illustrated by Dana SanMa
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593176962 | Knopf BFYR
In the hottest hour of the hottest day of the year, a fateful wind blows into Oaxaca City. It whistles down cobbled streets and rustles the jacaranda trees before slipping into the window of an eleven-year-old girl named Clara. Unbeknownst to her, Clara has been marked for la Lotería. Life and Death deal the Lotería cards but once a year, and the stakes could not be higher. Every card reveals a new twist in Clara’s fate – a scorpion, an arrow, a blood-red rose. If Life wins, Clara will live to a ripe old age. If Death prevails, she’ll flicker out like a candle. But Clara knows none of this. All she knows is that her young cousin Esteban has vanished, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save him, traveling to the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas, where every action has a price, and every choice has consequences. And though it seems her fate is sealed, Clara just might have what it takes to shatter the game and choose a new path. Karla Arenas Valenti weaves an adventure steeped in magic and mythology – gorgeously illustrated by Dana SanMar – exploring the notion of free will in a world where fate holds all the cards.

¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines
By Dean Robbins
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
40 Pages | Ages 7-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536206081 | Candlewick
Millie danced to jazz in her Italian neighborhood. Pedro danced to Latin songs in his Puerto Rican neighborhood. It was the 1940s in New York City, and they were forbidden to dance together . . . until first a band and then a ballroom broke the rules. Machito and His Afro-Cubans hit the scene with a brand-new sound, blending jazz trumpets and saxophones with Latin maracas and congas creating Latin jazz, music for the head, the heart, and the hips. Then the Palladium Ballroom issued a bold challenge to segregation and threw open its doors to all. Illustrated with verve and told through real-life characters who feature in an afterword, ¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! portrays the power of music and dance to transcend racial, religious, and ethnic boundaries.

Merci Suárez Can’t Dance
By Meg Medina
384 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763690502 | Candlewick
Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suárez. For science she’s got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be a smart as her brother, Roli. She’s been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she’s tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball. One thing is for sure, though: Merci Suárez can’t dance – not at the Heart Ball or anywhere else. Dancing makes her almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.

Mi Casa Is My Home
By Laurenne Sala
Illustrated by Zara González Hoang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536209433 | Candlewick
Bienvenidos to Lucía’s home. Lucía lives in her casa with her big, loud, beautiful familia, and she’s going to show you around! From la puerta, where Abuela likes to wave to the neighbors and wait for packages from Puerto Rico or Spain, to la cocina, where Lucía watches her Mamá turn empty pots into soups and arroces, to el patio, where Lucia and her cousins (and her cousin’s cousins!) put on magic shows, Lucía loves her busy and cozy casa. With warmth and joy, author Laurenne Sala and illustrator Zara González Hoang celebrate home in this bilingual picture book that feels like an abrazo from your most favorite people, your familia.

Milo Imagines the World
By Matt De La Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399549083 | Putnam BFYR
Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There’s the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There’s the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there’s the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo – walking the same path, going to the exact same place – Milo realizes that you can’t really know anyone just by looking at them.

My Two Border Towns
By David Bowles
Illustrated by Erika Meza
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593111048 | Kokila
Early one Saturday morning, a boy prepares for a trip to The Other Side/El Otro Lado. It’s close – just down the street from his school – and it’s a twin of where he lives. To get there, his father drives their truck along the Rio Grande and over a bridge, where they’re greeted by a giant statue of an eagle. Their outings always include a meal at their favorite restaurant, a visit with Tío Mateo at his jewelry store, a cold treat from the paletero, and a pharmacy pickup. On their final and most important stop, they check in with friends seeking asylum and drop off much-needed supplies. My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, with stunning watercolor illustrations by Erika Meza, is the loving story of a father and son’s weekend ritual, a demonstration of community care, and a tribute to the fluidity, complexity, and vibrancy of life on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe
By Paloma Valdivia
40 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593305140 | Knopf BFYR
If I were a sheep, you would be a lamb.
If I were a bear, you would be a cub.
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla
By Diana López
Illustrated by Teresa Martínez
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593110959 | Dial BFYR
An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music. 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. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication – 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.

The Cot in the Living Room
By Hilda Eunice Burgos
Illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593110478 | Kokila
Night after night, a young girl watches her mami set up a cot in the living room for guests in their Washington Heights apartment, like Raquel (who’s boring) and Edgardo (who gets crumbs everywhere). She resents that they get the entire living room with a view of the George Washington Bridge, while all she gets is a tiny bedroom with a view of her sister (who snores). Until one night when no one comes, and it’s finally her chance! But as it turns out, sleeping on the cot in the living room isn’t all she thought it would be. With charming text by Hilda Eunice Burgos and whimsical illustrations by Gaby D’Alessandro, The Cot in the Living Room is a celebration of the ways a Dominican American community takes care of one another while showing young readers that sometimes the best way to be a better neighbor is by imagining how it feels to spend a night sleeping on someone else’s pillow.

Zonia’s Rain Forest
By Juana Martinez-Neal
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536208450 | Candlewick
Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer? Acclaimed author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal explores the wonders of the rain forest with Zonia, an Asháninka girl, in her joyful outdoor adventures. The engaging text emphasizes Zonia’s empowering bond with her home, while the illustrations – created on paper made from banana bark – burst with luxuriant greens and delicate details. Illuminating back matter includes a translation of the story in Asháninka, information on the Asháninka community, and resources on the Amazon rain forest and its wildlife.

Want more recommendations? Check out last year’s suggestions and look out for a teen reading list this week!

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