Famous Authors and Librarians: Hispanic Heritage

Pura Belpre surrounded by stories

These stories celebrate the world of reading, books, and libraries. From reading adventures to biographies of authors and librarians, these titles remind readers just how magical a book can be!

A Library for Juana

Library for Juana
By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

This picture book biography introduces Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of Mexico's most beloved scholars and poets. At the age of three, Juana promised her sister's teacher that she was "quiet like a turtle" so that she could stay at the school and learn to read. Later, Juana would become a nun and produce poetry that is still learned by children in Mexico today. Handsome, detailed paintings evoke Mexican folk art and tell the story of Juana's life.

Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia

A librarian rides on a donkey
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Product Description: Luis loves to read, but soon his house in Colombia is so full of books there's barely room for the family. What to do? Then he comes up with the perfect solution — a traveling library! He buys two donkeys — Alfa and Beto — and travels with them throughout the land, bringing books and reading to the children in faraway villages.

Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America Who Changed the World

Illustrations of women feature in Courageous History Makers
Illustrated by: Jone Leal
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America Who Changed the World highlights 11 women from Latin America who excelled in science, sports, the arts, journalism, politics and more. Some notable women featured include Mexican painter Frida Khalo, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú, Grammy-winning musical icon Celia Cruz, and renowned pilot Hermelinda Urvina. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding women in rhyming verses, young readers will follow their journey to success.

Isabel Allende: Memories for a Story

Isabel Allende's childhood memories
Illustrated by: Fernando Molina
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)
Language: English

Product Description: Isabel Allende: Memories for a Story gives readers a glimpse of Isabel Allende's childhood influences. Benatar offers a vivid picture of a unique childhood: bewitched by the séances of her grandmother, enlivened by her own adventurous spirit, and haunted by the silence that descended upon the house after the death of a loved one. With the passage of time, Isabel became the keeper of the family memories, memories that come alive in her writing.

Little Libraries, Big Heroes

Illustration of people around a Little Free Library
Illustrated by: John Parra
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

The inspiring story of how the Little Free Library organization brings communities together through books, from founder Todd Bol's first installation to the creation of more than 75,000 mini-libraries around the world.

My Name Is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez

A painting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as a young man holding a book
Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English, Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Monica Brown tells the story of young Gabriel García Márquez and provides children with an introduction to magical realism by showing how young Gabriel’s surroundings and imagination merged in fantastic ways, fostering his creativity and building the foundation for the legendary characters and stories he would later create. Raúl Colón brings these rich imaginings to life in vivid illustrations that complement the lyrical text. Pura Belpré Honor Award.

My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral

A painting of Gabriela Mistral as a child
Illustrated by: John Parra
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

"My name is Gabriela Mistral. It is a name I chose myself because I like the sound of it." With these words, Monica Brown introduces us to the Chilean poet and author who, in 1945, became the first Latin American writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The lyrical text and exquisite illustrations bring Gabriela's childhood and talent to life for young readers.

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

Collage of famous Latino/a trailblazers
Illustrated by: Gloria Félix
Language: Spanish

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.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

Painting of young Pablo Neruda sitting under a tree
Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Neftali always loved nature and words. This fondness allowed Neftali — better known as Pablo Neruda — to create poetry in a "voice [that] was heard across nations and ocean." Rich language and lush illustrations that incorporate words in Spanish and English are sure to enthuse young writers while introducing this Nobel-winning poet.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Drawing of a woman and four children sitting on a stoop reading and flowers grow around them.
Illustrated by: Paola Escobar
Age Level: 6-9, 9-12
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

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.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Age Level: 6-9

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.

The Color of My Words

Coming of age girl through poetry and prose

Product Description: Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her — watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community — that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her — and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.

Waiting for the Biblioburro

Illustration of a male librarian riding on a donkey
Illustrated by: John Parra
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English, Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Meet Ana, a young girl who loves to read. There aren't many books in her small Colombian village, though — until the day Ana meets the Biblioburro, a librarian who brings books through the mountains on the backs of two strong donkeys. Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, this story asks readers, "How far would you go for a book?"

With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

Figure holding star

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words.