Hispanics are 16.7% of total population of the United Sates, making them the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. If you are part of that statistic, you are one of the 52 million Latinos that make the United States the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Unfortunately, there is also the risk of future generations of Hispanics losing their Spanish when living in the US. Reading bilingual stories could help your child maintain interest in Spanish. The following suggestions of children books in Spanish and English will connect them back to their Hispanic heritage.
Children Books in Spanish and English
1. In My Family | En mi familia
by Carmen Lomas Garza
FROM MEXICO TO TEXAS. The author takes the reader to her home town in Texas where she shares memories of her traditional Mexican American community. The story is told from the main character’s point of view, Carmen, who grew up in Kingsville, Texas and uses 13 illustrations that were painted by the author herself. Each painting gives the book the look of a photo album with short, independent stories for each. Painting topics are sharing a night in their local restaurant, a cousin’s wedding day and a visit to abuela Elisa’s house. This book is ideal to expose your kids to topics such as family, history and culture. In My Family has received numerous awards including the Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award and the Américas Picture Book Award. It also includes a section where the author answers question from her young readers.
2. Xochitl and the Flowers | Xochitl, la niña de las flores
by Jorge Argueta
FROM EL SALVADOR TO SAN FRANCISCO. The story takes place in San Francisco where a girl named Xochitl has moved with her family. She misses her family, friends and the garden she worked with her mother in El Salvador, where she is originally from. At the beginning they live in a small apartment and dream about opening a flower shop. Xochitl helps her mother sell flowers on the street until they move to a bigger place, where they are able to set up a garden with the support of their friends. But not everybody is happy with this venture, the owner of the land complains about having the new flower business there. The story shows the struggles of a family trying to settle in a new country: her mother cleans houses, her father looks for manual labor work and Xochitl is trying to learn English. The story is written first in English and then in Spanish and is illustrated by Carl Angel.
3. The Spirit of Tio Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story | El espíritu de tío Fernando: Una historia del dia de los muertos
by Janice Levy
A MEXICAN TRADITION. The Day of the Dead is one of the most emblematic traditions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. A boy named Nando is getting ready to honor the memory of his uncle that died six month ago. A Worlds of Words blog review indicates that the author mixes in the cultural traditions of the Day of the Dead: “she explains the origin and importance of the holiday as well as some of the typical activities and events that take place over the three-day celebration. By doing this, she provides the audience with some perspective on the historical connections as well as the spiritual context of the story.” Venezuelan artist Morella Fuenmayor is the illustrator of this story.
4. The Storyteller’s Candle | La velita de los cuentos
by Lucía González
FROM PUERTO RICO TO NEW YORK. A wonderful story about Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system. Cousins Hildamar and Santiago have just moved from Puerto Rico to New York in 1929 and this is their first winter in El Barrio. They pass by a library and asked Titi María if they can go inside to which she answers: “We don’t speak English, and the people in there don’t speak Spanish.” Fortunately, that day librarian Pura Belpré visits their school to encourage everybody to visit the library. She speaks Spanish and organizes a Three Kings Day celebration at the library that involves the whole community.
The book was illustrated by Lulu Delacre with an interesting twist. She used original pages of the New York Times from January 6th, 1930 (Three Kings Day) to create a collage with the painting. This book won the Pura Belpré Honor Award.
5. Book fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day | Book Fiesta!: Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros
by Pat Mora
MULTI-CULTURAL. A multicultural group of children celebrate Children’s Day / Book Day (El día de los niños / El día de los libros) by showing us different places where they like to read books. This celebration, also known as Día, was started by the author in 1997 by borrowing the Mexican holiday El día de los niños. In 1998, Mora’s Children’s and Book day became official when the U.S. Congress designated April 30th as “Day of the Child.”
The book includes a letter from the author that explains celebration and activity ideas for parents, schools, libraries, museums and bookstores. This story is for children from 3 to 6 years and was illustrated by Rafael López.
Check out these other articles on Spanish Books.
Featured photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/dance-children-s-drawings-ballet-83478/