Folk Tales and Legends: Hispanic Heritage

These traditional tales from the Americas are a mixture of original stories, popular folk tales, and indigenous legends passed down across many generations.

A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia

Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal
Age Level: 6-9

"After the failure of her father's olive crop, María fears that her family will have to leave their farm in the New World. Then one night, inspiration comes when she dreams of planting the seeds from the oranges that came from her parents' homeland of Valencia, Spain. A beautiful and mysterious woman — Our Lady of Thanks — enters the dream, foretelling a bountiful harvest…(T)his elegantly woven tale introduces the legend of Our Lady of Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic." — School Library Journal

Borreguita and the Coyote

Illustrated by: Petra Mathers
Age Level: 3-6

Left alone to graze, Borreguita outsmarts the fierce coyote who thinks the small lamb would be a tasty lunch. This tale from Ayutla, Mexico, is retold with sly humor and illustrated with dramatic, full color illustrations.

Canto y Cuento

Age Level: 3-6

With this fun collection of story-telling songs your kids will learn through music and rhythm in a unique and playful way, as they sing along with José-Luis Orozco. Be ready for giggles, as many of these story songs are amusing and entertaining.

Doña Flor

woman hugging the wind
By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish vocabulary featured

Dona Flor has gigantic proportions and unusual skills such as understanding the language of plants. Eventually, her talents are appreciated by the villagers in this attractively illustrated, richly told original tale. Winner of Pura Belpré Award for Illustration and the Pura Belpré Honor Award for narrative. Also available in Spanish.

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!
Illustrated by: Juliana Perdomo

Ramón is a little boy who can’t sleep. He is nervous for his first day at a new school. And El Cucuy is the monster who lives in Ramón’s cactus pot. He can’t sleep, either. It turns out that El Cucuy is scared, too! This gentle, perceptive story explores the worries that can accompany moving to a new place and beginning a new journey — and reveals how comfort, bravery, and strength can be found through even the most unexpected of friendships.

Fiesta Feminina

Product Description: Drawing from Mexico's rich cultural heritage, this book celebrates the courage and resilience of the feminine spirit through the stories of seven extraordinary Mexican women. Using radiant colors in a style reminiscent of famous Mexican muralists to capture the spark behind the stories, this folktale collection that will be enjoyed time and again.

Half-Chicken: A Folk Tale in English and Spanish

Illustration of a chicken
Illustrated by: Kim Howard
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Do you know why a weather vane has a little rooster on the top, spinning around to tell us which way the wind is blowing? Here is the answer in this old story about Half-Chicken, who has one eye, one leg, and one wing. His adventures take him far and wide until he's carried straight to the top, in this lively retelling — in Spanish and English — of a traditional folktale.

Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales

Illustrated by: Jacqueline Mair
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: This unique collection of fifteen folktales draws on the rich storytelling tradition of Mexico's people and culture. Classic themes and fairytale elements are blended with magic and transformation and infused with Roman Catholic imagery to create a distinctly Mexican flavor and flare. Lively retellings and vibrant, whimsical paintings, based on Mexican folk art, make these spirited tales just right for storytimes and a perfect introduction to this little-known body of folk literature. Winner of the Aesop Prize.

Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie

Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie
By: Joe Hayes
Illustrated by: Joseph Daniel Fiedler
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: Don Ignacio is a wealthy landowner whose prized possession is an apple tree that produces the most delicious fruit around. He trusts only one man to care for this tree — his ranch foreman Juan Verdades. Don Ignacio is also a proud man and he lets his pride carry him into a dangerous bet! He bets a neighboring rancher his ranch that Juan Verdades cannot tell a lie. Will Juan Verdades be able to tell the truth about what he has done? The ranch depends on it.

Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains

Age Level: 6-9

"Cuy, a clever, fast-talking guinea pig, outsmarts Tío Antonio, a hungry fox, in this lively picture book. The eye-catching colored woodcuts, which so vividly depicted the fauna and flora of the Andes Mountains in the original version, decorate this edition, which remains a delightful tale for both young Spanish speakers and learners." — Booklist

Magic Moments

"A bilingual collection of 15 traditional tales from Latin America, arranged into four sections: Scary Stories, Trickster Tales, Strong Women, and Myths. Extensive notes about sources and variants make this a particularly useful resource in classrooms." — School Library Journal

Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: From the grateful rooster who cries "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" to the awesome spirit of the Mother of the Jungle, Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez celebrates seven traditional folktales and tells them in a colorful, fresh voice. In these magical adventures that are sure to delight, readers young and old will meet some of the world's most memorable heroes and charming tricksters.

Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la llorona

Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la llorona

Ever since she can remember, Prietita has heard terrifying tales of la llorona — the legendary ghost woman who steals children at night. Against a background of vibrant folk paintings, Gloria Anzaldua reinterprets, in a bilingual format, one of the most famous Mexican legends. In this version, Prietita discovers that la llorona is not what she expects, but rather a compassionate woman who helps Prietita on her journey of self-discovery.

Rain Player

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: The ancient Mayan belief that the future was divinely decreed and could not be changed is the basis for this original tale of a boy who must defeat the Rain God in a ball game to save his people from disaster. Mayan art and architecture were the inspiration for the spectacular cut-paper artwork.

Roadrunner's Dance

Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 6-9

Snake terrifies children and their parents. He claims to be the "king of the road." But with gifts from the animals, Desert Woman fashions Roadrunner to defeat Snake. In the tradition of a folktale, this original story explains why rattlesnakes have their rattle and how cooperation can save the day.

The Day It Snowed Tortillas

Product Description: Joe Hayes is one of America's premier storytellers. He grew up in a small town in southern Arizona where he learned Spanish from his classmates. As he got older, Joe began gathering old stories from the Southwest, which he shares in this bilingual collection.

The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story

Illustrated by: Amy Córdova
Age Level: 3-6

Jade's village is running out of water. When a small blue hummingbird tells Jade that she most go to the Mountain Spirit to ask for rain, she is afraid to make the journey alone — but she knows that it may be her village's only hope. Based on an ancient Mexican legend, Rudolf Anaya has created a memorable story to introduce young readers to the importance of corn — and tortillas — as Mexican food staples.

The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico

girl reaching for flower
Illustrated by: Enrique O. Sanchez
Age Level: 6-9

This Taino creation story describes how the island of Puerto Rico came into existence when the Earth was a desert without water. A young boy's adventures lead to the growth of a beautiful forest on top of a mounatain and then the introduction of the sea and its creatures around the base of the mountain, which becomes an island. The lovely, stylized illustrations are a perfect match for the traditional story.

The Woman Who Outshone the Sun

Illustrated by: Fernando Olivera
Age Level: 6-9

"Lucia Zenteno is a mythic character, a woman of great beauty who is perfectly in tune with nature. She is indeed larger than life, and though beloved by the creatures of the countryside, she becomes the target of human hatred and fear and is driven out of her village because she is different. It is only as nature mourns and the river leaves with her that the people realize that they need her. This original (Zapotec) folktale is skillfully told, and is solid and colorfully steeped with imagery of the earth and sky." — School Library Journal

White Flower: A Maya Princess

Illustrated by: Rafael Yockteng
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: This Mayan folktale with Spanish origins features W'itz Ak'al, the Lord of the Woods, a cacique (king) who commands both the natural world and the city; and his beautiful daughter, Blanca Flor, who also can command the forces of nature to get her way. When a suitor arrives to court her, he must survive a series of trials set by Blanca's father to prove his worth.

Wings and Dreams: The Legend of Angel Falls

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: The highest waterfall in the world, Venezuela's magnificent Angel Falls, is the backdrop for a newly imagined folktale vibrantly illustrated with full-color original art. A dark shadow falls over the Pemones Indians as conquerors from the north invade the ancient land. A wise shaman sends young Takupi on a perilous journey to seek out safety for his people in a secret southern land seen only in the shaman's dreams. Armed with only a few token gifts to protect him, Takupi must face frightening obstacles in his quest.