Hispanic Picture Books for All Year Long

National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place between September 15 and October 15 of every year to commemorate the cultures, achievements, contributions of Hispanics/Latinos/Latinx in the United States. Articles, activities, festivals, promotions, exhibitions, and much more focus on the Hispanic population during this month.

As a Hispanic, I am all for celebrating this month. However, I firmly believe that we should celebrate Hispanics all year long rather than relegating them to a month of the year. I think the same about other minorities and the months assigned to them.

Below is a list of fantastic picture books about Hispanics that children, librarians, teachers, and parents can read all year long.

A Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle

A Cuban American girl reminisces visiting her abuelo pregonero in La Habana, Cuba, and helping him sell fruits. Mango, coco, naranja, bananas, and pineapples are some of the delicious choices. She wishes she could visit her abuelo more often and that he could visit her in the United States, too. Travel restrictions imposed by the American and Cuban governments limit flights between both countries.

Cuban American and Pura Belpré winner Margarita Engle wrote A Song of Frutas in rhyme and Spanglish. She captured the girl’s happiness while selling fruits with her abuelo and nostalgia while talking about her correspondence with him. Pura Belpré honoree Sara Palacios did the vibrant and colorful illustrations. She did a fantastic job portraying La Habana as a lively town full of street vendors, people of all races (because Hispanics come in all colors), and joyful, loud musical noises. The back matter includes information about los pregoneros, travel restrictions, Spanglish, and New Year’s Eve Cuban traditions.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 1240L

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Zonia is a beautiful and cheerful Asháninka girl who lives in the Amazon rain forest. Every morning the rain forest calls her, and she responds. Zonia greets the sloths, talks to the Andean cock-of-the-rocks, goes for a ride with a Jaguar, and visits the Arrau turtles, among other adventures in the natural world. But, on the way home, she encounters a patch of forest destroyed by deforestation. Zonia is determined to answer the rain forest’s call for help.

Written by prolific and award-winning Peruvian American author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal, Zonia’s Rain Forest is a children’s story about protecting the Amazon Rain Forest. The illustrations display greenery in linocuts on textured banana bark paper. Zonia pops up with her golden tunic, and her animal friends blend in with nature. The back matter includes a translation of the story to Asháninka and facts about the Asháninka people and the species in the Amazon rain forest.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles

A father and a son have a ritual of driving to The Other Side every other Saturday. Their day together is full of things to do. They have breakfast at their favorite restorán, pick up Mom’s earrings at aunt and uncle’s jewelry shop, play soccer with the primos, and pick up prescriptions. However, their last stop is the most important, as they visit and help refugees awaiting asylum on the bridge located in the US-Mexico border.

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, author of They Call Me Güero, is a brilliant picture book about the complexity of immigration. The Other Side turns out to be Mexico, breaking stereotypes. Erika Meza‘s colorful watercolor illustrations turn the tables. Purple tones predominate in the images set on the American side and change to vibrant colors when the characters arrive in Mexico. It is a moving children’s book about the current situation at the border, the relationship between fathers and sons, and doing something for your community.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Kokila
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient by Areli Morales

Areli lives in Mexico with her grandmother and older brother, Alex. Her parents left Mexico a long time ago for the United States, searching for a better life. Alex leaves, too. He can go because he was born in the United States. Areli has to wait until her parents send someone to get her, as she was born in Mexico. When she finally arrives at her family’s house in New York, she does not recognize her parents, and her brother is taller. At first, Arelis has difficulty adjusting to her new life, but she becomes a Newyorkina who dreams of having a bright future as time passes.

Areli is a Dreamer is the real-life story of Areli Morales, the author, who is a DACA beneficiary. Morales shares her story to inspire other immigrants. The story’s subject is intense for children, so I recommend parental supervision while reading this picture book. Children might need explanations about immigration and prejudice. Luisa Uribe did the gorgeous illustrations that depict Areli’s life in Mexico with light orange, golden, and earth tones and her life in New York with dark blue, red, and green tones. Areli es una Dreamer is the Spanish version of this book, which Polo Orozco translated from English.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Random House Studio
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

It is a hot day in the city of dreamers, Los Angeles, California. A boy runs through his neighborhood, trying to find Paletero Jose. He wants to buy a paleta to beat the heat. When he finds Paletero Jose busy at the park selling cold tasty paletas to a bunch of kids, the boy finds his pockets empty. Not a problem, as his neighborhood friends – Tio, Frank, and Mrs. Lee – return him his dinero, which he had dropped while running. Paletero Jose has a surprise for all after witnessing this act of kindness.

Lucky Diaz, a Mexican-American Latin Grammy winner, wrote this rhythmic and optimistic picture book. His neighborhood in Eight Street, Los Angeles, full of immigrant street vendors, was his inspiration. Micah Player‘s illustrations stand out with their bright colors and diverse people. It is a great book to talk with children about community and acts of kindness. And, the family will want to go out for ice cream after reading it.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Rosita Dolores Alverio is a little Puerto Rican girl who lives in a cottage in the rainforest and loves to sing and dance. Rosita and her Mami move to the mainland to New York City. Rosita’s classmates bully her because of her accent and the color of her skin. She perfects her English and begins dance lessons. Rosita becomes Rita Moreno, the first Latina to win an Academy Award and one of only six women to have won the EGOT.

As a Puerto Rican, I felt proud and got emotional when I read A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Anika Aldamuy Denise wrote this inspiring biographical picture book about Rita Moreno’s life. Leo Espinosa‘s digital and animated illustrations are detailed, vibrant, and gorgeous. Una niña llamada Rosita: La Historia de Rita Moreno: iActriz, Cantante, Bailarina, Pionera! A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! (Spanish edition) is the Spanish version of this picture book.

Publishing Year: 2020
Publisher: Harper
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel

Two Josés live in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria in Bogotá, Colombia. Little José dreams of Paradise and cannot wait for Saturday. Meanwhile, Señor José, a sanitation worker, collects treasure from the trash cans of the wealthier neighborhoods of Bogotá. The treasure is libros! Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy was the first book he found a long time ago. When Saturday arrives, Little José and other children run to Paradise, the library Señor José established after collecting many books. Little José finds a selection and cannot wait to devour his new cuento.

Digging for Words by Angela Burke Kunkel is based on the real-life story of José Alberto Gutiérrez, a sanitation worker who opened a library in La Nueva Gloria barrio in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2000. They did not have a library before that. It is Kunkel’s debut picture book, and she got her inspiration from seeing a video of Gutiérrez’s library. Colombian Illustrator Paola Escobar‘s pretty illustrations become magical when referencing books like Anna Karenina and El Principito. This inspiring story is an excellent example of doing something amazing for your community, and it is a celebration of books.

Publishing Year: 2020
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 730L

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina

Daniela and Evelyn are best friends. They live next to each other, their apartments are similar, their families are mostly the same, and they play together all the time. But that changes tomorrow when Evelyn is moving away. Although the best friends have to say goodbye, Evelyn will always be Daniela’s first mejor amiga.

Written by Newbery Medalist Meg Medina, Evelyn de Rey is Moving Away is a touching story about best friends, moving away, and saying goodbye. Sonia Sánchez‘s illustrations consist of digital media, patterns, and colored pencil drawings that bring alive the girls’ friendship and their apartments and neighborhood. It is a perfect picture book for children who are moving away and have to say goodbye to their very first best friends. Military families will appreciate it. Evelyn del Rey se muda is the Spanish version, and Teresa Mlawer translated it.

Publishing Year: 2020
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 700L

Abuelita’s Secret by Alma Flor Ada

Gabriel is not excited about his first day of school. He will not know anyone and say a thing about himself. Rosa, his sister, tells him he has a lot to say about their family. Abuelita recommends him talking about the trip they took to the beach and showing them a seashell. More than that, Abuelita tells him a secret. When Gabriel follows Abuelita’s secret instructions at school, he realizes he has a lot to share with his classmates.

Award-winning Cuban author Alma Flor Ada wrote Abuelita’s Secret, a cute and simple story about a little boy’s first day of school, his Hispanic family, and identity. Jacobo Muñiz did the book’s colorful and diverse illustrations, drawing inspiration from his childhood.

Publishing Year: 2019
Publisher: Reycraft Books
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 540L

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Pura Belpre arrived in the United States in 1921. At first, she worked at a textile factory. However, she found a job as a bilingual assistant at the New York Public Library. After noticing a lack of children’s books in Spanish at the library, Pura made up her own stories and puppets. Her literary career began when she published Pérez and Martina, a children’s book about a beautiful Spanish cockroach who falls in love with a handsome mouse. Pura leaves the library after marrying musician Clarence White. In 1961, she returned to the library and kept planting stories.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise is a wonderful celebration of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. I have worked in libraries and archives, so Pura is one of my heroines, and this is one of my favorite picture books. Her life is a model to look up to. Paola Escobar did gorgeous illustrations in earthy yet vibrant tones with exquisite details. Not surprisingly, this picture book won many awards, including the 2020 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book, the 2020 ALA Notable Book, and the Junior Library Guild Gold Award. Sembrando historias is the Spanish version, and Omayra Ortiz translated it.

Publishing Year: 2019
Publisher: Harper
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 860L

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero

A girl runs outside when she hears her father arriving home from a hard day of work. As usual, they go for a ride on his motorcycle. The ride takes them through their neighborhood. They pass by immigrant-owned businesses, like Tortillería la Estrella and Joy’s Market. Unfortunately, when they stop for a raspado at Don Rudy’s Raspados, they find it is out of business. They also pass by murals that tell their city’s history and Abuelito and Abuelita’s old yellow house. Before going home, they stop at the construction site the father works to greet his co-workers. Then, they keep riding and taking in their beautiful city.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero is a love letter to the author’s father and the city of Corona, California. Her father used to take her on motorcycle rides through Corona when she was a little girl. Zeke Peña collaborated closely with Quintero to do the illustrations. He succeeded at capturing Quintero’s childhood and vibrant neighborhood with detailed digital comics water-colored with dessert tones. This duo won multiple awards for this picture book, including the 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award Honor, Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award, and the 2020 American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.

Publishing Year: 2019
Publisher: Kokila
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 750L

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung by Samantha R. Vamos

A farm maiden, a boy, a group of farm animals, and a farmer work together to throw a surprise birthday party. The centerpiece of the party is the colorful piñata that the farm maiden hung. The reader follows each step in the process of making this special piñata.

The Pinata that the Farm Maiden Hung by Samantha R. Vamos is a Hispanic take on The House That Jack Built. As making the piñata adds up to the final piece, the pages add new Spanish words to the sentences in English. Kids will love learning words in Spanish and Hispanic traditions with this fun and engaging story. Sebastiá Serra‘s eye-catching and colorful illustrations are a joy to look at, as these portray the cheerfulness that characterizes Hispanic parties. The back matter includes The Piñata Song in English and Spanish, instructions to make a piñata, and a glossary of Spanish words.

Publishing Year: 2019
Publisher: 2019
Ages: 4 – 8
Lexile: 600L

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

One thought on “Hispanic Picture Books for All Year Long

  1. What a fantastic list of #Latinx picture books! Thanks so much for sharing with Multicultural Children’s Book Day BIG GIANT LINKY 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

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