Mamá and Papá: Hispanic Heritage

Mother hugging son

These books tell the stories of children and their parents and caregivers in a diverse range of stories and situations.

Alicia's Happy Day

By: Meg Starr
Illustrated by: Ying-Hwa Hu
Age Level: 6-9

"Alicia's mother guides her through streets where she is greeted by neighbors, shopkeepers, street vendors, and even taxi drivers. Expanding on the fantasy quality of the day, airplanes write a salutation in the sky and pigeons bow to the birthday girl. Finally, this perfect interlude is rounded out by a huge ice-cream cone from the Icey man and a party with her loving extended family." — School Library Journal

Antonio's Card

Antonio's Card
Age Level: 6-9

Antonio loves words, because words have the power to express feelings like love, pride, or hurt. Mother's Day is coming soon, and Antonio searches for the words to express his love for his mother and her partner, Leslie. But he's not sure what to do when his classmates make fun of Leslie, an artist, who towers over everyone and wears paint-splattered overalls. As Mother's Day approaches, Antonio must choose whether — or how — to express his connection to both of the special women in his life.

Confetti Girl

Product Description: Apolonia "Lina" Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a girl who's just looking for answers. Even though her house is crammed full of books, she's having trouble figuring out some very big questions, like why her dad seems to care about books more than her, why her best friend's divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones (hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti), and, most of all, why her mom died last year.

Erandi's Braids

Illustration of young girl's braids
Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: The yellow dress Erandi wants for her birthday will look beautiful with her long, thick braids. But Mama's fishing net is full of holes, and there isn't enough money to buy both a new net and a birthday dress. The only solution lies with the hair buyers from the city. But Mama's hair isn't nearly as beautiful as Erandi's. Will Erandi have to choose between her birthday present and her braids? This touching tale of love and sacrifice is sprinkled throughout with Spanish words and expressions.

From North to South

Mom hugging son
Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

When Mamá is sent to a detention center in Tijuana because she doesn't have the right immigration papers, José must get used to life without her. He and his father visit Mamá at the center, where they talk about the future in which they will be together. Based on the experiences of René Colato Laínez's students, both he and illustrator Joe Cepeda strike the right balance of honesty and hope in depicting this difficult yet common situation for families along the border.

Get Set! Swim!

Illustrated by: Hector Viveros Lee
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

"Jessenia, her Mami, and her brother, Luis, are off to the suburbs to watch Jessenia swim at a meet. Jessenia is intimidated by the big new suburban pool and the fact that the other team is on a winning streak. Her team is behind, but she manages to win her last match…Jessenia's story is juxtaposed against the memories Mami has of her home in Puerto Rico; as Jessenia swims, the blue of the water reminds her of the expanse of ocean Mami has often described." — Booklist

Good Night Captain Mama

Illustrated by: Linda Lens
Age Level: 6-9

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.

Growing An Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son

Father and son planting in garden
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

Today is a big day — the first time Juanito gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect! Throughout the day, Juanito sketches anything that catches his eye: a nest full of baby birds, a nursery with row upon row of plants and flowers, and more. Father and son travel from house to house, pruning, weeding, mowing, and turning overgrown and chaotic yards into beautiful spaces. A few of the clients don’t appreciate Papi’s hard work, like Juanito’s classmate who pretends not to see him. But Papi always feels pride in owning his own business and in a job well done.

Home at Last

Illustrated by: Felipe Davalos
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

When Ana's family comes to the U.S., she can tell that her mother misses their life and family in Mexico terribly. In addition, she doesn't want to learn English, and she relies on Ana and her husband to translate. Soon, however, Ana's mother realizes that English may be the key to finally feeling at home in her new country. A touching tribute to the children — and their parents — who have come to the U.S. for a better life.

Jalapeño Bagels

Boy in front of bakery
Illustrated by: Robert Casilla
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

"When Pablo must bring something to share for his school's International Day, he considers several items from his family's bakery. But his mother's Mexican pan dulce, empanadas, and chango bars don't do the trick. His father's bagels and challah bread are appealing, but not quite right either. Then the boy helps to make the family specialty, Jalapeño Bagels, joint creation from the cultures of both parents, and decides that it is the perfect contribution: '...a mixture of both of you. Just like me.'" — School Library Journal

Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Paula Barragan
Age Level: 6-9

Thirteen poems rejoice in Latina women, their diversity, and their roles. This short, illustrated collection celebrates Spanish-speaking countries as well as bilingualism in the United States. Illustrations swirl across each page, combining computer generated and traditional art with energetic results.

Mamá and Me

Mother and child
Illustrated by: Rudy Gutierrez
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: For a bilingual girl and her mamá , a loving bond is about being together…and independent. Arthur Dorros's skillful and subtle blend of English and Spanish narrative, illustrated with bold, striking paintings by award-winning artist Rudy Gutierrez, offers readers a poignant reminder that every day with Mamá is sweet.

Mama and Papa Have a Store

Painting of textiles in family store
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

Amelia Lau Carling's children loved her childhood stories about Guatemala so much that she wrote them down for others. In this story, a young girl goes through the day at her family's store in Guatemala City. While the girl's parents and their friends talk about their hometown in China from where they emigrated many years ago, she and her siblings play games on the rooftop terrace, float paper boats, and make shadow puppets under the glow of flashlights.

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.

Mama Had to Work on Christmas

Mama Had to Work on Christmas
Illustrated by: Robert Casilla
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In this short chapter book, we meet Gloria, who always spends Christmas with Papi, Mama, and Nana. But this Christmas, Papi is away picking oranges and Mama has to work at the hotel where she is a maid. Gloria soon discovers that the lavish decorations and foods piled high on the tables are only for the guests. How Gloria moves from disappointment to understanding makes for a poignant story that honors the true spirit of the Christmas season.

Milagros: Girl from Away

Milagros de le Torre hasn’t had an easy life: ever since her father sailed away with pirates she’s been teased at school, and her family struggles to make ends meet. Still, Milagros loves her small island in the Caribbean, and she finds comfort in those who recognize her special gifts. But everything changes when marauders destroy Milagros’s island and with it, most of the inhabitants. Milagros manages to escape in a rowboat where she drifts out to sea with no direction, save for the mysterious manta rays that guide her to land.

My Papa Diego and Me

"In this beautiful bilingual picture book, Diego Rivera's daughter has brought together 14 of her father's original works with a focus on those depicting children. Each well-reproduced painting is accompanied by a brief discussion describing the historical or cultural details of the time. The author also weaves in her own memories and those of her father, making the book personal yet accessible." — School Library Journal

Papá and Me

Father and Child
Illustrated by: Rudy Gutierrez
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: A young boy and his papa may speak both Spanish and English, but the most important language they speak is the language of love. Here, Arthur Dorros portrays the close bond between father and son, with lush paintings by Rudy Gutierrez.

René Has Two Last Names

Illustration of a boy standing in front of his classmates
Illustrated by: Fabiola Graullera Ramirez
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

"René, a new student from El Salvador, doesn't understand why his second last name is missing from his desk's name label. Adding it results in a name so long that his classmates make fun of it by comparing it to that of a dinosaur…When his teacher assigns the students the project of creating a family tree, René is determined to show his classmates and teacher why he has two last names and the importance of his dos apellidos." — School Library Journal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

court building people
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

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.

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx

Illustration of young Sonia Sotomayor sitting on steps
Illustrated by: Christina Rodriguez
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

This bilingual picture book tells the story of Sotomayor's childhood in the Bronx, her time at Princeton, and her confirmation on the Supreme Court, with a special focus on her mother's unwavering support throughout her life. Lovely illustrations capture the warmth and joy of Sotomayor's family and story. Note: The biography includes a discussion of the racial undertones of her nomination and confirmation hearing.

The Remembering Stone

Illustrated by: Claire B. Cotts
Age Level: 6-9

Each morning in the early fall, Ana and her mother watch the blackbirds fly away. "One day I will return like you," Ana's mother tells the birds. Ana knows that her mother is thinking of her homeland, Costa Rica, and Ana'a grandparents. When Ana holds a special volcanic stone that her mother brought with her, she is certain that someday they will return together. A tender depiction of the nostalgia and dreams of an immigrant family.

Tortilla Sun

Product Description: When twelve-year-old Izzy discovers a beat-up baseball marked with the words "Becausemagic" while unpacking in yet another new apartment, she is determined to figure out what it means. What secrets does this old ball have to tell? Her mom certainly isn't sharing anyespecially when it comes to Izzy's father, who died before Izzy was born. But when she spends the summer in her Nana's remote New Mexico village, Izzy discovers long-buried secrets that come alive in an enchanted landscape of watermelon mountains, whispering winds, and tortilla suns.