Family & Friends: Hispanic Heritage
These books celebrate family and community in its many forms — from quiet moments together to big family reunions!
A Birthday Basket for Tía
Cecilia and her cat, Chica, create a special birthday present for her great-aunt's 90th birthday — a basket filled with things Cecilia and her tía have shared. This affectionate autobiographical story is illustrated with warm colors, suggestive of Mexican American traditions.
A Thousand White Butterflies
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!
Alma and How She Got Her Name
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names. Winner of the 2019 Caldecott Honor Award.
Product Description: From Mexican author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh comes the story of two cousins, one in America and one in Mexico, and how their daily lives are different yet similar. Charlie takes the subway to school; Carlitos rides his bike. Charlie plays in fallen leaves; Carlitos plays among the local cacti. Dear Primo covers the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of two very different childhoods, while also emphasizing how alike Charlie and Carlitos are at heart.
The artist recalls growing up in south Texas in this celebration of family and cultural traditions presented in vivid paintings and short prose in Spanish and English. Garza's pride in her Mexican-American heritage is evident and celebrated in this handsome book.
"In this bilingual picture book, Daniel Gonzalez goes to a family reunion in San Antonio, TX, expecting it to be dull. Instead, he finds himself enjoying a Tex-Mex feast, making a new friend in a cousin his age, and learning the importance of family. Spanish words and phrases are scattered throughout the English text, and vice versa." — School Library Journal
Fiesta Dress: A Quinceañera Tale
On the day of her big sister Eva's quinceañera, everyone is too busy to notice Lolo. The upbeat acrylics and liquid watercolor capture the excitement and gaiety of the family gathering and this special occasion.
Edver isn't happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it's a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn't caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer. He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn't know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is.
Friendship Club / El Club de la Amistad
When Alma finds large empty cardboard box she thinks it will make the perfect clubhouse for her and her friends! The kids quickly get to work on making the cardboard box feel truly special but when more and more of Alma's friends want in on the clubhouse they start running into space issues. Can Alma find a way to include everyone? Kids won’t want to miss this easy reader based on a popular episode of the show. Based on the PBS Kids series Alma’s Way, created by Emmy Award-winning actor Sonia Manzano, best known as Maria on Sesame Street.
Good Night Captain Mama
A little boy is walking to his bedroom when he notices his mother in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane. He drifts off to sleep with thoughts of his mommy in the airplane and the special surprise she gives him. This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. Bilingual text.
"Everybody in our family has different hair," begins this loving celebration of diversity among family members. Papa's hair is like a broom, Nenny's hair is slippery, and Mama's hair looks like rosettes and smells like warm bread. Terry Ybàñez's colorful illustrations, bordered by imaginative drawings, capture the uniqueness of each family member and their joy in being together.
Harvesting Friends / Cosechando Amigos
Young Lupe loves helping her mother with their salsa garden full of tomatoes, chile peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro. But one summer day, she sees that the biggest, juiciest tomatoes have disappeared! Who could have taken them? Including easy-to-make recipes, this bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 will have them clamoring for a garden of their own to plant and harvest. Along the way, young readers and the adults in their lives too will learn that coming together as a community will enable them to harvest more than just vegetables.
Hola, Amigo: Songs of Friendship
Hola, Amigo started out as a song in 123 Andrés’ debut album, and became a fan favorite. Hola, Amigo: Songs of Friendship has remastered versions of Hola, Amigo in Spanish and English, and eight more songs that explore the theme of friendship, in two languages. You can also see the related book, Hello, Friend / Hola, Amigo.
If the Shoe Fits
"Rigo lives in a crowded house with his four siblings, his parents, and his uncle. Accustomed to hand-me-downs, he is thrilled when he gets new shoes for his ninth birthday. He loves them until a neighborhood kid makes fun of them and takes the nickels from the slots in the loafers. The shoes are stashed away until Rigo needs them for a party but finds they no longer fit. Fortunately, he realizes that his uncle could use them for his new job as a waiter. This is a gentle and honest story about a close-knit Mexican-American family." — School Library Journal
In My Family
Kingsville, on the border of Mexico and Texas, comes to life in words and pictures in this book. Readers will share the simple joys of eating, dancing, and celebrating as the artist remembers her own childhood. Her stories, presented in both English and Spanish, are accompanied by her bright paintings.
Isabel and Her Colores Go to School
English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she's going to have to learn — and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there's more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.
Let Me Help!
Product Description: "Let me help! Let me help!" Perico learns this phrase from little Martita, who's been saying it a lot lately. When the whole family scrambles to prepare for Cinco de Mayo, Perico knows there must be some way he can help — even if he is just a parrot. But at every turn Perico is shooed away, until he finally figures out how he can add to the Cinco de Mayo fun.
Product Description: Amalia's best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia's abuelita have a way of making everything a little bit brighter. But when another loss racks Amalia's life, nothing makes sense anymore. In her sorrow, will Amalia realize just how special she is, even when the ones she loves are no longer near?
Product Description: Even at the advanced age of seven, Magda Madrigal can remember back to when she was a little girl and would watch her abuela making tortillas. Having studied techniques of a master, she now feels confident of her own ability to turn out beautiful, delicious, and round tortillas. But somehow the rolling pin and the kitchen still hold a few surprises for the perplexed Magda and for her delighted family. Great art isn't always pretty, but in the case of "tortilla artist" Magda Madrigal, at least it's tasty!
Mayeros: A Yucatec Maya Family
Visit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to meet several generations of Mayan Indians, learn a bit about their history, culture, and contemporary life in this riveting portrait in pictures and words.
Merci Suárez Trilogy #1: Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family. Winner 2019 Newbery Medal.
Other books in the series include:
My Pal, Victor
Dominic and Victor are friends who share stories, jokes, and games and cheer each other on. At the end of the book, readers discover something special — the boys don't let the fact that Victor is in a wheelchair get in their way of having fun! Colorful illustrations bring this simple yet thoughtful story to life. Winner of ALA's 2004 Schneider Family Award.
My Very Own Room
Product Description: The young Mexican American girl at the center of this charming book loves her family — five younger brothers, her two parents, and several visiting relatives — but in such a crowded house, she can never seem to find a moment alone. Told in both English and Spanish, this boldly illustrated title based on the author's childhood delivers the inspiring story of a California family that pulled together to give a young girl her own corner of the world.
Next to Mexico
"Lylice has skipped a year and is new to Susan B. Anthony Middle School in her hometown of Tucson. Worried about making friends, the sixth grader becomes the English Buddy to Mexico, a student from Nogales who lives with her aunt and is a talented artist…When Mexico is hospitalized because her aunt is about to be unemployed and can't afford her niece's insulin, the girls finagle a job interview for her by forging a letter on stolen school stationery. Then, because of a boy on whom she has a crush, Lylice hurts her friend's feelings.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale
When the rains don't come in the spring, Papá Rabbit sets out north to work in the carrot and lettuce fields. He doesn't return when expected, however, and his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, embarks on a journey to find his father. He meets a coyote who agrees to show him a shortcut, but only in exchange for Pancho's food. After an exhausting journey, Pancho is left with nothing — except the hope of finding his father.
When Carmen Teresa receives a blank journal on New Year's Day, she begins filling it with tales and memories from her loved ones. Finding that food is the common thread, the journal becomes a cookbook of stories, infused with Latin American flavor. Gentle lessons are conveyed along the way in this lovely book. Available in Spanish and English versions.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
When Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, was forbidden from enrolling in her local school, her parents organized a lawsuit that eventually brought the end of school segregation in California seven years before Brown vs. Board of Education. Based on interviews with Sylvia Mendez, as well as court files and news reports, award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings the Mendez family's story to life in this compelling title that remains as relevant today as it was in 1947. A glossary and an author's note are included.
Snapshots from the Wedding
"Soto takes readers to a Mexican American nuptial, and young Maya, the flower girl, is the lens through which the action is seen…Created with Sculpy clay, acrylic paints, wood, ribbons, and flowers, the art is displayed in large boxes set against pages covered with lace. The doll-like members of the wedding are exaggerated just enough to be amusing; at times, just a body part or two are highlighted, as when Maya's feet are shown on top of her father's while they dance." — Booklist
Stella Díaz #1: Stella Diaz Has Something To Say
Stella loves spending time with her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely. When a new boy arrives in Stella's class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
The Best Mariachi in the World
Product Description: Everyone in Gustavo's family is in a mariachi band…Everyone except Gustavo, that is. They all play violines, trompetas and guitarrones. They all make wonderful music in restaurants and at wedding parties. Gustavo would love to join the band, but he can't play any of the instruments. What's a wannabe mariachi to do? Follow Gustavo as he finds his place in the family mariachi band.
Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead
Day after day, Lupita and Tío Urbano watch the Monarch butterflies arrive. Urbano says they are the souls of the dead ones arriving in time for Día de los muertos. When Urbano becomes sick and dies soon after, Lupita feels only sadness — until she sees the Monarchs and remembers Urbano's words. The beautiful story and illustrations bring the true meaning of this important celebration to life for readers young and old.
Uncle Rain Cloud
When Tío Tomás speaks in Spanish and tells his nephew Carlos ancient stories from Mexico, he is animated and happy. When he has to speak in English, however, his bad mood makes him look like a rain cloud. Eventually the two of them find a solution that will allow them to know "twice as much as everyone else!" This realistic story provides an authentic look at the frustration many recent immigrants feel when they are struggling to learn a new language, as well as the opportunities that being bilingual provides.
Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba
In writing about her childhood growing up in Camaguey, Cuba, Alma Flor Ada evokes all the senses. Readers will smell jasmine, coffee, and grandmother's perfume. They will see the bats flying overhead and hear adults share stories. Companion volume to Where the Flame Trees Bloom.
We Are Cousins
Product Description: Cousins are friends and rivals. Cousins are funny and frustrating. But the most important thing is that cousins are family. From the moment they get together, the fun begins. Written in simple language for children ages 2-5, the brief English and Spanish text will become a valuable tool to encourage children to think and talk about their own families.
Where the Flame Trees Bloom
"Telling of her childhood in Cuba, Ada begins with an introduction to her homeland followed by 11 episodes about her family and her community. One story tells of her grandfather Modesto's courage and loyalty in the face of the death of his beloved wife and the simultaneous collapse of the Cuban economy. Another tells of her great-grandmother Mina, who continued to make rag dolls for the village children even after she had lost her sight.
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!