Dance: Hispanic Heritage

These books celebrate all kinds of dances from Latin America, as well as the traditions and family celebrations connected to them and the dancers who bring them to life.

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!

Painting of Rita Moreno as a child and as Anita in West Side Story
Illustrated by: Leo Espinosa
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

When young Rosita moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States, she didn’t know what to expect — but she knew she loved to sing and dance. Working to overcome the language barrier and bullying she experienced in a strange new country, Rita eventually made her way to Hollywood with a dream to be a star. There, she fought to be seen and heard and eventually reached the pinnacle of success, landing her iconic role in West Side Story and, finally, winning her groundbreaking Oscar.



20 songs to inspire families to get moving, with a star-studded lineup — Gilberto Santa Rosa, Los Rabanes, Rubén Blades, Lucy Kalantari, Luz Pinos, Felipe Peláez, La Mosca Tse-Tse and many others.

Alicia Alonso Dances On

Alicia Alonso dancing
Illustrated by: Gloria Félix
Age Level: 6-9

As a young girl in Cuba, Alicia Alonso practiced ballet in tennis shoes. Within a few years, she was in New York City, with a promising ballet career. But her eyesight began to fail. When Alicia needed surgeries to save her vision, dancing was impossible, but she wouldn't give up her dream. She found the strength and determination to return to the stage and become a prima ballerina. This is the true story of a woman who overcame her challenges, mastered her art, and inspired others to dance and dream.

Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina

"Similar in form and concept to many of Bernier-Grand's previous books, this beautiful volume offers a biographical account of ballerina Alicia Alonso through a sequence of free-verse poems, extensive background notes, and large-scale illustrations. Beginning with Alonso's childhood in Cuba, the book relates how she moved to New York in 1937 and overcame partial blindness to dance again, winning worldwide renown." — Booklist

Amelia's Show-and-Tell Fiesta

Illustration of a young girl dancing in a special dress
Illustrated by: Gail Ablow
Age Level: 6-9

Amelia is excited for show and tell at her new American school, and she knows just the thing to bring — her special fiesta dress! When she gets to school wearing the dress, however, she realizes that she has misunderstood the assignment. Yet just as she is about to give up on show and tell, she feels her skirts begin to sway and she remembers the joy of twirling in Cuba's tropical breezes and dancing during Carnival. This gentle story is brought to life with appealing, colorful illustrations by Mexican artist Martha Avilés.

Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!

Age Level: 6-9

A trip to Brazil inspired this look at a unique sport called "capoeira." The result is a compelling journey into capoeira's history and its popularity around the world. The book begins with students at an academy in Oakland, California. Well-placed and -paced, full-color photographs chronicle this amazing activity.

Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México

Age Level: 6-9

Danza! is a celebration of Hernández’s life and of the rich history of dance in Mexico. As a child, Amalia always thought she would grow up to be a teacher, until she saw a performance of dancers in her town square. She was fascinated by the way the dancers twirled and swayed, and she knew that someday she would be a dancer, too. She began to study many different types of dance, including ballet and modern, under some of the best teachers in the world. Hernández traveled throughout Mexico studying and learning regional dances.

Estela's Swap

Illustration of a young girl in the market
Illustrated by: Enrique O. Sanchez
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Estela is attending her first swap meet, where she plans to sell a music box to make money for lessons with the Ballet Folklórico. When a strong wind ruins the flowers the woman across from her is selling, Estela decides to give her the music box so she can listen to cheerful music while she makes new flowers. Although Estela may not have enough money for the lessons, her heart is full. And in this charmingly illustrated story, the flower seller has a wonderful surprise for Estela.

José! Born to Dance: The Story of José Limón

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9

Born in 1908, in a small Mexican village, José Limón seemed destined to become an artist rather than a world-famous dancer. The lyrical language incorporates onomatopoeic and Spanish words. The distinctive illustrations with swirling colors reveal the life of a great modern dancer and choreographer.

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Illustration of a young woman in a baseball uniform

Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She’s also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy…like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much…like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Who seasons. Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she’s not gonna let that slide.

Mama Does the Mambo

Illustrated by: Edel Rodriguez
Age Level: 6-9

"'After Papa died, Mama stopped dancing,' opens this affecting tale narrated by a Cuban child who misses the evenings of the past…Now men line up in the courtyard in hopes of becoming Mama's dance partner, but "her heart is not in it.

Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States

Collage of famous Latino/a trailblazers
Illustrated by: Gloria Félix
Age Level: 6-9

Nuestra América highlights the inspiring stories of thirty Latina/o/xs throughout history and their incredible contributions to the cultural, social, and political character of the United States.
The stories in this book cover each figure's cultural background, childhood, and the challenges and opportunities they met in pursuit of their goals. A glossary of terms and discussion question-filled reading guide, created by the Smithsonian Latino Center, encourage further research and exploration.

The Skirt

"Miata Ramirez has a problem that will strike a chord with many children: she forgets things. This particular Friday afternoon, she has left her folklórico skirt on the school bus, and she is supposed to dance in it on Sunday. She sees no alternative but to break into the bus and retrieve it. So, dragging along her shy friend, Ana, that is exactly what she does." — School Library Journal

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel

Illustrated by: Mark Siegel
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

To Dance is a graphical memoir of Siena Cherson Siegel, a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico who eventually came to New York to study with the School of American Ballet. It captures the passion of the artist, as well as the discipline needed to succeed. To Dance won a 2007 Robert F. Sibert Book Award honor as one of the best informational books for young people.

Under the Mambo Moon

Product Description: On summer nights Marisol helps out in Papi's music store. As customers come and go, they share memories of the Latin music and dance of their various homelands, expressed in a dazzling array of poetry. The diversity of Latin American music is brought to life in poems that swivel, sway, and sizzle with the rhythms of merengüe, vallenatos, salsa, and samba. Back matter includes a map, author's note, and further information about the musical heritage of Latin America.

¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines

¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Age Level: 6-9

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. 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.

¡Olé! Flamenco

Age Level: 6-9

The rich history of the dance known as flamenco is explored in crisp text and dynamic photographs. Readers then learn more about specific aspects of flamenco when introduced to a young dancer named Janira Cordova. Ancona's affection for his subject — people as well as the art form — is evident throughout this informative book.