Music and Rhyme: Hispanic Heritage
These books celebrate the many wonderful forms of music that Latinos and Latin Americans call their own, as well as the songs and rhymes that one generation passes down to the next.
For musical CDs and songbooks, see our related Hispanic Heritage Music for Kids booklist!
A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!
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.
Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
This non-fiction book tells the story of Ada Ríos, who grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option...until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada — and her town — forever changed.
Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games
A beloved collection of traditional Latino baby games and lullabies from fourteen Spanish-speaking countries, complete with melodies for chanting and singing. Collected by Lulu Delacre, these rhymes and songs are available in English and Spanish.
Arroz con Leche
These traditional rhymes and songs from Latin America are presented in both English and Spanish. Gentle illustrations accompany the short verses, and show both cities and the countryside. Children and adults from Spanish-speaking backgrounds will recognize many of these fun songs and rhymes.
Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics
Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot ― the Latinos featured in Bravo!, by author Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael López, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds.
Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World
Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change. From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.
Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony
This jacketed picture book pairs Newbery Winner Matt de la Peña and Pixar artist Ana Ramírez with the highly anticipated Pixar Studios film, Coco. Featuring a beautiful original story based on the characters of the film, as well as vibrant stylized artwork, this title is sure to appeal to readers of all ages.
Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America Who Changed the World
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.
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.
De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children
Product Description: Bursting with color and spirit, this collection of Latin-American songs is a tribute to Latino culture. From traditional tunes to rhymes and hand games, De Colores has songs for all occasions and moods. Each song is accompanied by simple musical arrangements, with lyrics in both English and Spanish.
De Colores: Sing Along in English and Spanish!
Product Description: This traditional Spanish folk song is brought to life by the striking artwork of a bestselling illustrator. Musical notation is included, as well as a page that introduces readers to the Spanish and English words for the colors featured in the book. Full color.
Diez Deditos and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America
This bilingual collection of finger rhymes and action songs highlights the richness of the Latin American culture to support a child's language development, listening skills and basic concepts. Your kids will have fun singing, clapping, dancing and enjoying vibrant themes such as languages, parts of the body, animals, sounds and musical instruments. This collection also teaches kids the importance of family and self-esteem. Lyrics are presented in both English and Spanish, and easy-to-follow musical accompaniment and diagrams for the corresponding actions are also provided.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule — until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.
Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist
Juan Garcia Esquivel was born in Mexico and grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands. He loved music and became a musical explorer. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds. Juan's space-age lounge music – popular in the fifties and sixties – has found a new generation of listeners. And Duncan Tonatiuh's fresh and quirky illustrations bring Esquivel's spirit to life.
Finding the Music / En pos de la música
When Reyna accidentally breaks Abuelito's vihuela — a small guitar-like instrument — she ventures out into the neighborhood determined to find someone who can help her repair it. No one can fix the vihuela, but along the way Reyna gathers stories and mementos of Abuelito and his music. Still determined, Reyna visits the music store, where the owner gives her a recording of Abuelito's music and promises that they can fix the vihuela together.
Product Description: Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengüe — the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico — sharing her memories and passions with Eric. Join Eric Velasquez on a magical journey through time and across cultures, as a young boy's passion for music and art is forged by a powerful bond between generations.
La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños
Classic Mother Goose rhymes get a Latino twist in this cozy collection. From young Juan Ramón sitting in el rincón to three little gatitos who lost their mitoncitos, readers will be delighted to see familiar characters in vibrant, luminous scenes brimming with fanciful details.
Little Chickies / Los Pollitos
This book is based on “Los Pollitos Dicen”, one of the most popular songs in the Spanish speaking world.
Little Elephants / Elefantitos
This children’s book is based on the song “Un elefante se balanceaba”, a traditional Mexican counting song. It teaches little ones how to count to five plus serves as the perfect bedtime story.
Little Mice / Ratoncitos
Little Mice / Ratoncitos is a children's board book is based on the song Cinco ratoncitos de colita gris, a beloved finger-play song from Latin America. The book tells the story of five playful mice on a mission: to find and eat as much cheese as they possibly can before they get caught by the cat for lunch!
Little Sunny Sunshine / Sol Solecito
Sing, laugh, and play along with this interactive, bilingual board book that's inspired by a traditional Colombian folk song. Each day of the week, Piggy loves to play outside with little sunny sunshine/sol solecito, and he loves admiring the moon when the day is done.
Mamá Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury
This book is a collection of Spanish-language lullabies, finger games, nursery rhymes, jump-rope songs, riddles, birthday songs, and more. It compiles songs from different Spanish-speaking countries. The English translations keep the essence of the native language, and grab the reader using captivating terminology.
My Little Donkey / Mi Burrito
This holiday book is based on one of the most popular Christmas carols in Spanish: “Mi Burrito Sabanero“ (The Little Donkey from the Savannah). This bilingual children’s book follows the journey of a trotting donkey on his way to Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus.
My Tata's Guitar
When a little boy explores his grandfather's garage, he finds a treasure — his grandfather's old guitar. He learns that the guitar has provided the music for Christmas posadas, love songs, and campfires. Nothing is more exciting for the boy, however, than the moment that his grandfather offers to teach him how to play his guitar. The story and illustrations offer a lovely tribute to Latino families and traditions. Bilingual text.
Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States
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.
Queen of Tejano Music: Selena
Selena Quintanilla's music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family's band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong. Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn't know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it.
Rafi and Rosi: Music
Rafi and Rosi, two curious tree frogs, explore the bomba, plena, and salsa music traditions of their home island, Puerto Rico.
Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi
Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi is a book that allows children to practice basic literacy skills in Spanish as well as in English. José-Luis Orozco is able to gracefully describe daily routines while making rhymes for children to read or sing along to. This book is based on a song written by Orozco, who is an award-winning Hispanic songwriter. The book has an accompanying CD.
Sarai #3: Sarai Saves the Music
They're cutting funding at Sarai's school and her band program is the first to go. That is totally not okay with Sarai. She decides to organize a benefit concert to raise money! When she and her bandmates promote the concert on their video channel, it catches the attention of Sarai's favorite singer, Sparkles Sanchez! Can Sarai save the music?
Shake It, Morena! And Other Folktales from Puerto Rico
Rhymes, games, and more are presented with richly colored illustrations evoke the traditions of Puerto Rico and the universality of a child's activities and interests. Spanish verses are woven throughout the text.
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.
The Birthday Book / Las Mañanitas
This children's book is based on the song "Las Mañanitas", a beloved finger-play song from Latin America.
The Frog Was Singing
Latin Grammy nominee Rita Rosa Ruesga presents a collection of nursery rhymes and songs from Latin America in this bilingual songbook. Each song includes lyrics, music, and a brief explanation about the song's background.
Tito Puente, Mambo King
Tito Puente was born to be a musician. He grew up to become the Mamba King to whose music people danced the mambo, rumba and cha-cha. Rhythmic language and animated illustrations briefly present Tito's life and the impact of music throughout.
Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhymes
Product Description: Young children will treasure this collection of Latin American nursery rhymes. Preserved through oral tradition, these rhymes have been passed on from generation to generation. They have been lovingly gathered and translated for this book and many are accompanied by instructions for finger play.
When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana
When Carlos Santana picked up la guitarra, he took the soul of the Blues, the brains of Jazz, and the energy of Rock and Roll, and added the slow heat of Afro-Cuban drums and the cilantro-scented sway of the music he’d grown up with in Mexico. There were a lot of bands in San Francisco but none of them sounded like this. Had Carlos finally found the music that would make his angels real? Winner of the 2019 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Award and the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal.
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them/Cuando amamos cantamos
A reclamation of the Mexican serenata tradition. Follow the story of a young boy who asks his father if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. Selected for the American Library Association's 2019 Rainbow List.
¡Mi comunidad! / My Community!
An endearing new dual-language book, ¡Mi comunidad! / My Community! celebrates community helpers, with two companion songs (Spanish and English) to read and sing together.
¡Pío Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes
Rhymes from Spanish speaking countries are presented in Spanish and recreated in English to form a bilingual collection, with attention to the sounds and patterns of both languages. Vivid illustrations complete this appealing book.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!