National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed between September 15 and October 15 and celebrates the histories and cultures of people from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Here are some books to read with kids to celebrate Latinx and Hispanic authors.
Esme’s Birthday Conga Line
By Lourdes Heuer
Illustrated by Marissa Valdez
76 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269453 | Tundra Books
Esme lives with her grandparents on the uppermost floor of the topmost best building. It’s her birthday. Mimi and Pipo gave her a beautiful guitar. But they didn’t plan a birthday party. Esme thinks this is the way with grandparents. They don’t know about parties or piñatas or birthday cake. No problem! Esme is great at problem solving. With the help of her cat, El Toro, and a LOT of help from her neighbors in the topmost best building, the irrepressible Esme gets the birthday party of her dreams.
Pepita Meets Bebita
By Ruth Behar and Gabriel Frye-Behar
Illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593566985 | Knopf BFYR
Welcoming a new baby can be hard, especially when you’re used to being the center of attention! When it’s time for Pepita, the puppy of the family, to meet the brand new bebita, she’s in for a few surprises. What do you mean that Mami is too busy to bounce a ball for Pepita? And Papi seriously can’t find any time to scratch her ears? This new bebita is a bit of a problem . . . . But along the way, the two will grow to love one another and become a family with even more smiles and heartwarming moments. From award-winning author Ruth Behar and her son, Gabriel Frye-Behar, comes a true-to-life story about adjusting to new additions and embracing change.
Spanish Is the Language of My Family
By Michael Genhart
Illustrated by John Parra
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823450046 | Neal Porter Books
As a boy prepares for his school’s Spanish spelling bee, he asks his grandmother for help with some of the words he doesn’t know how to spell yet. When she studies with him, she tells him how different things were back when she was a girl, when she was only allowed to speak English in school. This only inspires him to study even harder and make his family proud. Based on stories author Michael Genhart heard from his mother as a child, Spanish is the Language of My Family is about the joy of sharing cultural heritage with our families, inspired by the generations of Latino people were punished for speaking Spanish and the many ways new generations are rejuvenating the language.
The Only Way to Make Bread
By Cristina Quintero
Illustrated by Sarah Gonzales
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271760 | Tundra Books
What’s the only way to make bread? You might use white flour in your bread, or whole wheat flour or corn flour. You might use water or milk, maybe an egg or two. You’ll use a handful of this, a dash of that, a bit of this and a splash of that. Some dough will rise, some dough will bubble. Sometimes it will be sticky, sometimes it will be shaggy. What’s the only way to make bread? Your way! This tasty celebration of all kinds of bread will tempt bread lovers big and small. No matter what kind of bread YOU like to make, this book is for you!
Vlad, the Fabulous Vampire
By Flavia Z. Drago
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536233322 | Candlewick
Vlad is a vampire with the misfortune of having rosy cheeks that – gasp! – make him look abysmally alive. But being the fabulous vampire that he is (and hoping to avoid rejection), he hides his rosy complexion behind elaborate vampire outfits in traditional black. That is, until he finds out that his best friend has a pink secret of her own . . . . With signature flair, Flavia Z. Drago offers a story about being yourself and finding your community, strikingly illustrated in a distinctive, detailed art style influenced by her Mexican heritage.
By Lilliam Rivera
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593323120 | Kokila
Natalia de la Cruz Rivera y Santiago, also known as Nat, was swimming neighborhood kids out of their money at the local Boyle Heights pool when her life changed. The L.A. Mermaids performed, emerging out of the water with matching sequined swimsuits, and it was then that synchronized swimming stole her heart. The problem? Her activist mom and professor dad think it’s a sport with too much emphasis on looks – on being thin and white. Nat grew up the youngest in a house full of boys, so she knows how to fight for what she wants, using her anger to fuel her. People often underestimate her swimming skills when they see her stomach rolls, but she knows better than to worry about what people think. Sometimes, she feels more like a submarine than a mermaid, but she wonders if she could be both. Barely Floating explores what it means to sparkle in your skin, build community with those who lift you up, and keep floating when waters get rough.
Los Monstruos: Felice and the Wailing Woman
By Diana López
288 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326497 | Kokila
When Felice learns that she’s the daughter of La Llorona, she catches a ride to the magical town of Tres Leches, where her mother is said to be haunting the river. Growing up with her uncle Clem in Corpus Christi, Felice knew that she had been rescued from drowning – it’s where her intense fear of water comes from – but she had no idea her mother remained trapped between worlds, looking for her. Guided by the magical town’s eccentric mayor, Felice vows to help her mother make peace with the events that turned her into the most famous monstruo of US–Mexico border lore. Along the way, she meets the children of other monstruos, like La Lechuza and the Dancing Devil, and together they free Tres Leches from magical and metaphorical curses that have haunted its people for generations. Diana López’s electric return to middle grade – the first in a series – brims with magic, adventure, and Mexican folklore, and is perfect for fans of Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega and the Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste.
Lalo Lespérance Never Forgot
By Phillippe Diederich
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593354285 | Dutton BFYR
Lalo Lesperance lives with his older brother and Mexican American mother in a low-income apartment building in Fort Myers. They moved there from a subdivision after the family lost Lalo’s Haitian American father. At school, Lalo is known as the boy who can’t remember anything and needs special help in all his classes. But when the first COVID lockdown hits, he finds himself in a friendship of convenience with Vivi, a Mexican American kid his age who gets perfect grades and who never gave him a second thought when they were in school. Vivi’s abuela watches the kids while their mothers work long shifts as nurses at a clinic slammed by COVID. As Lalo navigates his much smaller pandemic world, he discovers his apartment building has its own mysteries, like a sinister stranger in an old RV and a storage closet full of junk, including an old radio that just might hold the key to remembering why Lalo’s family moved to the apartment and what happened to his father.
By Pedro Martín
320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593462287 | Dial
Pedro Martín has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito – his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! But that doesn’t mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has eight brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough! Still, Pedro piles into the Winnebago with his family for a road trip to Mexico to bring Abuelito home, and what follows is the trip of a lifetime, one filled with laughs and heartache. Along the way, Pedro finally connects with his abuelito and learns what it means to grow up and find his grito.
Turtles of the Midnight Moon
By María José Fitzgerald
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593462287 | Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
Twelve-year-old Barana lives in a coastal village in Honduras, where she spends every spare minute visiting the sea turtles that nest on the beach. Abby is feeling adrift in sixth grade, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs after her best friend moved away from New Jersey. When Abby’s papi plans a work trip to Honduras, she is finally given the opportunity to see his homeland – with Barana as her tour guide. But Barana has other plans: someone has been poaching turtle eggs, and she’s determined to catch them! Before long, Abby and Barana are both consumed by the mystery, chasing down suspects, gathering clues, and staking out the beach in the dead of night . . . . Will they find a way to stop the poachers before it’s too late? A heart-pounding mystery with a hint of magic, María José Fitzgerald’s debut novel explores the power of friendship, community, and compassion to unite all living creatures.
Lucha of the Night Forest
By Tehlor Kay Mejia
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378366 | Make Me a World
A scorned god.
A mysterious acolyte.
A forgetting drug.
A dangerous forest.
One girl caught between the freedom she always wanted and a sister she can’t bear to leave behind. Under the cover of the Night Forest, will Lucha be able to step into her own power . . . or will she be consumed by it? This gorgeous and fast-paced fantasy novel from acclaimed author Tehlor Kay Mejia is brimming with adventure, peril, romance, and family bonds – and asks what it means for a teen girl to become fully herself.
The Fall of Whit Rivera
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823452361 | Holiday House
Frenemies Whit and Zay have been at odds for years (ever since he broke up with her in, like, the most embarrassing way imaginable), so when they’re forced to organize the fall formal together, it’s a literal disaster. Sparks fly as Whitney – type-A, passionate, a perfectionist, and a certified sweater-weather fanatic – butts heads with Zay, a dry, relaxed skater boy who takes everything in stride. But not all of those sparks are bad . . . . Has their feud been a big misunderstanding all along? Blisteringly funny and profoundly well-observed, The Fall of Whit Rivera is a snug and cozy autumn romcom that also tackles weightier topics like PCOS, chronic illness, sexuality, fatphobia, Latine identity, and class. Funny, honest, insightful, romantic, and poignant, it is classic Crystal Maldonado – and it will have her legion of fans absolutely swooning.
The Wicked Bargain
By Gabe Cole Novoa
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378014 | Random House BFYR
On Mar León de la Rosa’s sixteenth birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn’t enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father, and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar’s father and the entire crew of their ship. When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up their soul to save their father by the harvest moon, or never see him again. The task is impossible – Mar refuses to make a bargain, and there’s no way their magic is a match for el Diablo. Then Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate – and the captain’s son; and Dami, a gender-fluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption – or it could mean certain death.
Viva Lola Espinoza
By Ella Cerón
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405628 | Kokila
Lola Espinoza is cursed in love. Well, maybe not actually cursed – magic isn’t real, is it? When Lola goes to spend the summer with her grandmother in Mexico City and meets handsome, flirtatious Rio, she discovers the unbelievable truth: Magic is very real, and what she’d always written off as bad luck is actually, truly . . . a curse. If Lola ever wants to fall in love without suffering the consequences, she’ll have to break the curse. She finds an unlikely curse-breaking companion in Javi, a seemingly stoic boy she meets while working in her cousin’s restaurant. Javi is willing to help Lola look into this family curse of hers, and Lola needs all the help she can get. Over the course of one summer – filled with food, family, and two very different boys – Lola explores Mexico City while learning about herself, her heritage, and the magic around us all.