Afro-Latinx Stories: Latin America and the Caribbean
These stories shine a spotlight on Black immigrants, national heroes, and historic figures who hail from Latin America or the Caribbean. Many of the stories address the prejudices that celebrated figures such as Martín de Porres, Roberto Clemente, and Celia Cruz had to overcome throughout their lifetime. Others depict the special traditions and memories that immigrants remember with nostalgia.
To see related resources, take a look at the following:
- Our interview with Tracey Baptiste
- Afro-Latinx titles for kids and teens recommended by School Library Journal
- Reading Rockets' Stories from Haiti
- Black in Latin America, a four-part PBS series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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.
Every day, Angelina tells her mother she wants to go home. Not to their new city home, cold and gray and unfamiliar — but their old island home, sunny and colorful and filled with rainbow-colored fruits and birds. Angelina believes she'll never feel at home in this new place, until her mother finds a wonderful surprise in the newspaper. A beautiful tribute to the traditions of the West Indies, Carnival, and the longing for home that young immigrants will recognize immediately.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule — until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.
Drummer Boy of John John
Product Description: Carnival is coming, and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready to celebrate. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis — tasty fried pancakes filled with chicken, herbs, and spices — for the best band in the parade. Young Winston dreams of feasting on those delicious rotis. But there's a problem: he's not in a band! Pondering his predicament as he wanders through the village junkyard, Winston makes a curious musical discovery that may be just the ticket to realizing his dream.
For the Love of Soccer!
"In first-person narration, Pelé describes his lifetime passion for the game, which began in childhood…Morrison's vibrant, energetic illustrations depict a dual story. Each two-page spread features vignettes from Pelé's career on one page (subtly aging their subject over the course of the book), while the facing page reveals a parallel story line of a modern-day child learning to love the game. The vivid pictures, featuring slightly elongated figures and tilted perspectives, convey all the energy of this universal sport." — Kirkus Reviews
Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend – and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother – before Caroline loses her forever. Winner of the Stonewall Book Award.
When Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island — she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories — joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island and she comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: "Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." Winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.
Kenya is looking for a favorite song to share with her class. She and her father attend a Caribbean music festival in search of it — but Kenya doesn't find it there. Instead, she creates an original song that celebrates everyone's music! Realistic illustrations suggest Kenya's glimpse into other cultures and her own creativity.
Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words
In this thought-provoking novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who becomes a champion for civil rights in 19th century Cuba. "Like Antonio, readers will discover the power of words and the importance of documenting stories." (Horn Book)
Looking for a Jumbie
I’m looking for a jumbie, I’m going to find a scary one. But Mama says jumbies exist only in stories. So Naya sets out on a nighttime adventure to find out for herself. No such thing, say the friends she makes along the way. But Naya is sure that jumbies are real. Some have big mouths. Or thick fur. Or glowing skin. Or sharp teeth.
Looking for Bongo
Where could Bongo be? Help a young boy find his beloved toy — and figure out how he got lost to begin with. The boy knows Bongo was right there with him this morning—but suddenly, Bongo is missing. He asks his whole family if they've seen the stuffed toy. "Yo no sé," says abuela, "I don't know." When he finally finds Bongo, the boy is thrilled — and he sets a trap to catch the Bongo thief. Eric Velasquez's detailed, expressive illustrations follow the boy's investigation throughout his home, giving a glimpse at a warm, multi-generational family.
Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert
Martin and his sister grew up in a Lima, Peru barrio, children of an African slave and a Spanish nobleman. Martin was apprenticed to a cirujano, would join a Dominican monastery, and later become sought after as a healer. Jewel-like illustrations complement the accessible telling to reveal a man of faith and courage, who, despite the prejudices he confronted, would become the first black saint of the Americas. Pura Belpré Award Winner for Illustration.
This delightful book is set on a Caribbean island and features a little white rabbit who admires a beautiful black girl. He asks her what her secret is and she tells him to drink lots of black coffee and to eat lots of black beans. He doesn't give up though and in the end finds what change he can make.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the folk tales of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura's legacy. This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.
Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoes Basquiat's own and carries the powerful message that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean to be beautiful. Winner of the Caldecott Medal.
Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates
This moving tribute is the perfect introduction to Roberto Clemente. Readers will learn of his humble beginnings, the challenges he faced in a new country, and his unprecedented accomplishments as one of the greatest baseball players in history. Even more importantly, readers will come to understand the way that Clemente's generosity shaped so much of his life — and his untimely death. Raúl Colón's impressionistic yet evocative illustrations enhance the emotional impact of the text.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages.
11-year-old Serafina lives in the rural mountains of Haiti, helping her mother and grandmother with chores and hauling water up to the house each day. Secretly, however, Serafina wishes to go to school and become a doctor. Yet when the rains wash away their house and the 2010 earthquake strikes in Port-au-Prince, where her father works, the possibility of attending school seem even more tenuous — but Serafina isn't ready to give her dreams up yet. Ann Burg's lyrical, award-winning story is told in free verse with Haitian proverbs and French and Creole phrases woven throughout.
The Jumbies, Book 2: The Rise of the Jumbies
Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.
The Poet X
Xiomara Batista, a Dominican teen who feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. So when she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she doesn't know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can't stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent. Winner of the 2019 Walter Award, Printz Award, and Pura Belpré Author Award.
We're Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific
"A colorfully garbed couple take readers on a jaunty journey to the Galapagos Islands. For each day of the week, the rhymed text introduces one of the islands' unique animals. The repetition of the chorus "We're sailing to Galapagos. I wonder who we'll see" encourages audience participation. The bright collages create striking vistas that will also enhance group sharing. The youngest listeners will enjoy the visit to giant tortoises, black iguanas, and blue-footed boobies before they sail home." — School Library Journal
What a Party!
If it is just a few days until your birthday, and your mother says you can invite anyone you like to come over to play, be careful! In a celebration of festive neighbors, an open-ended party invitation results in a raucous gathering of children, pets, and parents (plus salsa dancers and a reggae band!), all feasting on food from all over the world. This is a humorous and irresistibly joyful cautionary tale.
Yes! We Are Latinos
Product Description: Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan, and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino. Thirteen young Latinos and Latinas living in America are introduced in this book celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino and Latina experience in the United States through free-verse fictional narratives.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!