Migration Stories: Hispanic Heritage

Illustration of young girl with two landscapes behind her

Migration from one home to a new one is a significant them in books about Latinx/Latin American families and children. From the arrival of a grandparent to the challenges of life along the border, these stories approach the topic with sensitivity and honesty.

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.

A New Kind of Wild

Two children sitting on stoop
Age Level: 6-9

When Ren moves to Ava's city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend. Inspired by the stories her father told her about moving from Puerto Rico to New York as a child, Zara González Hoang's author-illustrator debut is an imaginative exploration of the true meaning of "home."

A Sled for Gabo

Young boy in the snow
Illustrated by: Ana Ramírez González
Age Level: 6-9

On the day it snows, Gabo sees kids tugging sleds up the hill, then coasting down, whooping all the while. Gabo wishes he could join them, but his hat is too small, and he doesn’t have boots or a sled. But he does have warm and welcoming neighbors in his new town who help him solve the problem in the sweetest way possible!

A Thousand White Butterflies

Girl near snowy window
Illustrated by: Gina Maldonado
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

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!

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story
Illustrated by: Luisa Uribe
Age Level: 6-9

When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family — and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home.

Coquí in the City

Coquí in the City
Age Level: 6-9

Miguel's pet frog, Coquí, is always with him: as he greets his neighbors in San Juan, buys quesitos from the panadería, and listens to his abuelo's story about meeting baseball legend Roberto Clemente. Then Miguel learns that he and his parents are moving to the U.S. mainland, which means leaving his beloved grandparents, home in Puerto Rico, and even Coquí behind. Life in New York City is overwhelming, with unfamiliar buildings, foods, and people.

Cuba in My Pocket

Boy on coast

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume. Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own.

Dreamers

Illustration of a mother carrying her baby
Age Level: 3-6, 6-9
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

In 1994, Caldecott Honor artist and five-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the U.S. with her infant son. In this picture book which she wrote and illustrated, Yuyi tells the story of how she and her son made a home in a new place, finding refuge at the public library. A Spanish-language version is also available. Pura Belpré Author Award Winner.

If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher

If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher

Emily Francis’ If You Only Knew tells her story — from her childhood in Guatemala, where she worked in her mother’s fruit-selling business and helped raise her four younger siblings, through her journey into the United States as an undocumented, unaccompanied minor, and to her experience fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher — through a series of letters she writes to eight immigrant students in whom she sees pieces of herself.

Islandborn

girl happy face, background cityscape
Illustrated by: Leo Espinosa
Age Level: 3-6, 6-9
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

When Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island — she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories — joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island and she comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: "Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." Winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.

Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre

Illustrated by: Laura Lacamara

"When Mamá's purse falls on the floor, Sofia gets a peek at Mamá's old Resident Alien card and comes to the conclusion that Mamá might be an alien from outer space. Sofia heads to the library to learn more about aliens. Some are small and some are tall. Some have four fingers on each hand and some have large, round eyes. Their skin can be gray or blue or green. But Mamá looks like a human mother! Could she really be an alien? Sofia is still puzzling out this mystery when she sees an alien-looking Mamá one night.

Mañanaland

Mañanaland

Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow. If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he'd make Santa Maria's celebrated fútbol team and whether he'd ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papá won't talk.

My Diary from Here to There

Young girl holding a notebook and looking at a car traveling
Illustrated by: Maya Christina Gonzalez
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

While the rest of the family proclaims excitement at their imminent move ("They have escalators to ride!" says one of her five brothers), Amada confides her fears to her journal: "Am I the only one who is scared of leaving our home, our beautiful country, and all the people we might never see again?" Amada Irma Pérez shares the story of her journey to the U.S. as a young girl and Maya Christina Gonzalez's fluid illustrations spill color across the page. Bilingual text.

My Havana

My Havana

Product Description: "You're always drawing in that notebook of yours," Dino's friend teases. To the small boy, 1950s Havana is alive with color, music, and glamour, and he itches to capture it on paper. When Fidel Castro and the Communist Party take over the Cuban government, Dino's family must move to New York, where the lonely boy pours his heart into making a model of Havana's archways and balconies, buildings and streets. Rosemary Wells composes a tender ode to an immigrant boy who grew up to be a U.S.

My Name Is Maria Isabel

My Name Is Maria Isabel
Illustrated by: K. Dyble Thompson
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn't call her by her real name. "We already have two Marías in this class," says her teacher. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" But María Isabel has been named for her Papá's mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she's lost the most important part of herself?

My Shoes and I

Mario is leaving El Salvador with a new pair of shoes — and a good thing, too, because he has a long and difficult journey ahead of him to reach a new country. His shoes carry him through rain and across mountains, all the way to the river where his mother is waiting on the other side. Young readers may need some information explaining the context of the story, which is based on the author's journey from El Salvador in 1985. Painted illustrations on grainy wood backgrounds match the gritty but hopeful tone of the story.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale

Rabbit and coyote
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

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.

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.

Un tren llamado Esperanza/A Train Called Hope

Boy with a train in front of mountains
Illustrated by: Robert Casilla
Age Level: 6-9

In this poignant bilingual picture book, a boy remembers his first present, a toy train. Years later, after his parents have gone far away in search of work and a better future, the boy rides a real train to join his family. This one is loaded with hundreds of children traveling alone, just like him.

Uncle Rain Cloud

Illustrated by: Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Age Level: 6-9

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.

Xochitl and the Flowers

Illustrated by: Carl Angel
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Though Xochitl and her family have put down new roots in the United States, Xochitl still misses the garden and flower shop they left behind in El Salvador. But when Xochitl's family decides to start a nursery and sell their flowers on the street, the sense of community they find makes them feel connected to their neighbors, and their decision to start a nursery and flower shop in their backyard helps the Flores family finally feels at home in its adopted country.