A new year has just started and it is a good time to review the best Latino children’s books published in 2014. The selection includes English, Spanish or bilingual children and young adult books featuring Hispanics or its culture. Use this list to get some ideas for your kids or students.
The Best 20 Latino Children’s Books from 2014
|TITLE & DESCRIPTION||RATING||NOTES|
by Arthur Dorros
[IN ENGLISH] Colón's bright mixed-media illustrations are the highlight of Dorros's tale of a boy and his "abuelo gaucho" as they ride across what appears to be the pampas of Argentina. The dynamic interaction between the man and his grandchild is affectionately portrayed. Under the grandfather's gentle tutelage, the torch is passed from one generation to another as the child learns to apply valuable lessons to everyday life—such as standing firm when faced with a bully. In the end, the boy moves to the city, leaving his abuelo behind. That's when he truly understands and appreciates his grandfather's gifts of love and wisdom. All in all, this is a beautifullyillustrated, sweet story. -Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library
"There's just enough Spanish included in the text to make me, a non-Spanish speaker, feel like I'm learning something, but not enough to make it difficult to read aloud." - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★★||Age: 4 to 8 years
Grade: Preschool to 3
Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia | These Hands: My Family's Hands
by Samuel Caraballo
[BILINGUAL] In this heart-warming bilingual picture book, the young narrator compares the hands of family members to plants in the natural world and lovingly depicts family bonds. Samuel Caraballo's poetic text is combined with Shawn Costello s striking illustrations depicting loving relationships between family members. An author's note about Latin American symbols will introduce children both to the natural world and the idea that one thing can represent another.
"Some of my favorite children's books are those written in verse. The bilingual verses flow from one page to another, seamlessly. " - Reader review on Amazon
¡Hola! ¡Gracias! ¡Adiós!: Un cuento para aprender a ser educados
by Elisenda Roca
[IN SPANISH] Nora and Martin are two friends with a problem in common: they don’t like greeting or communicating with others. They are set in their ways until they realize one day that their lack of etiquette is rendering them invisible. Will they learn the power of communication before it’s too late?
Best Educational Children's Picture Book of the International Latino Book Awards 2014
|★★★★★||Age: 7 to 9 years
Grade: 2 to 4
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh
[IN ENGLISH] Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
"Every school should have this book and its lessons should be taught in elementary schools and at home. When my attention was drawn to this book and the fact that the desegregation fight began with the Latino community I had to buy this book. - Reader review on Amazon
|★★★★★||Age: 6 to 9 years
Grades: 1 to 4
I Pledge Allegiance
by Pat Mora
[IN ENGLISH] Libby and her Great Aunt Lobo are learning the Pledge of Allegiance at the same time—but for different reasons. Lobo is practicing it in order to become a citizen of the United States. She is proud of her Mexican heritage but is also grateful to be in America. In school, Libby has been chosen to lead her class in saying the pledge. Lobo and Libby decide to practice together at home and talk about what it means to both of them. The story will help young children become more thoughtful about this common daily recitation. Sprinkled with Spanish words, this gentle book explores what it means to be an American from the perspective of both a child and new citizen. -Diane McCabe, John Muir Elementary, Santa Monica, CA
"A must have! This is a book that explains the importance of The Pledge of Allegiance, and what it means, so that young children can understand it." - Reader review on Amazon
|★★★★★||Age: 3 to 7 years
Grade: Preschool to 2
Volando con Quique
by Maria Foundeur Hazoury (Bebé Lanugo)
[IN SPANISH] This book captures Hispanic culture through a musical journey that showcases the adventurous spirit of Latinos.
"A wonderful book that integrates many musical genres of Latin American music! Great for teaching our children with Latin American heritage about our music and its importance and vibrance in each of our cultures! " - Reader review on Amazon
I Lived on Butterfly Hill
by Marjorie Agosin
[IN ENGLISH] Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.
"I can't think of any other middle grade novels set in Chile, so it's great to have this one based on the author's childhood. There are lots of good details about daily life, many involving food." - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★★||Middle School and up|
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
by Juan Felipe Herrera
[IN ENGLISH] A dazzling collection of short biographies on 20 Latino men and women who have shaped United States history. Profiled chronologically, each entry provides a succinct but lyrical description of how these heroes have made their mark. Complete with helpful recommended reading, suggestions and source notes, this visually and textually stunning title is one to cherish and celebrate. -Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Biographies in this volume: Adelina Otero-Warren, Bernardo de Galvez, Cesar Chavez, David Farragut, Dennis Chavez, Desi Arnaz, Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Hero Street USA, Ignacio Lozano, Jaime Escalante, Joan Baez, Judy Baca, Julia de Burgos, Luis Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Roberte Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor, and Tomas Rivera
|★★★★★||Age: 8 to 12 years
Grade: 3 to 7
The Secret Side of Empty
by Maria E. Andreu
[IN ENGLISH] As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.
"I had such huge expectations for this book, really looking forward to it, and I must say it didn’t disappoint. It dealt with more issues than I was expecting, but it only enriched the book. This book was emotionally loaded but just utterly beautiful. The plot simply flowed smoothly and sucked you right into it." - Reader review on Amazon
Who Was Roberto Clemente?
by James Buckley Jr.
[IN ENGLISH] Growing up the youngest of seven children in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente had a talent for baseball. His incredible skill soon got him drafted into the big leagues where he spent 18 seasons playing right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Who Was Roberto Clemente? tells the story of this remarkable athlete: a twelve-time All-Star, World Series MVP, and the first Latin American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"This is my son's first book from the Who Was Series, and he really enjoyed it. I had told him a bit about Roberto Clemente a few years ago but this gave him more details. I read some of it myself and can see it is well-written and informative." - Reader review on Amazon
|★★★★+||Age: 8 to 12 years
Grades: 3 to 7
Gazpacho for Nacho
by Tracey C. Kyle
[IN ENGLISH] Nacho likes to eat only one thing: gazpacho! Gazpacho for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch, gazpacho for dinner, for snacks, and for brunch. Nacho won’t even try other dishes—until he discovers miles and piles of mouthwatering vegetables at the market. This lively rhyming story, sprinkled with Spanish, will delight little chefs. A recipe for Gazpacho and a Spanish glossary are included.
"Loved this book for: lyrical text where much of the rhyming involves Spanish words, an extensive glossary with both pronunciation and definitions, multiple opportunities for kids to use context clues and picture clues to comprehend Spanish vocabulary and of course, a recipe for gazpacho!" - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★+||Age: 5 to 9 years
Grade: 1 to 4
Dale, Dale, Dale: Una fiesta de números | Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers
by René Saldaña, Jr.
[BILINGUAL] In this bilingual counting picture book for kids, a young boy counts to fourteen in anticipation of his birthday party: one piata filled with candy; two hours until the party; three tables set for all of the guests, etc. And hell be the happiest boy in the world because he gets to hit the piañata first!
What kid doesn't love a piñata? In this birthday party counting book, simple text and colorful art carry the day. The illustrations are an interesting mix of drawings with colored-added photography. The protagonist is the birthday boy, and it is a very Latino-inspired celebration, counting items such as trompos, burbujas, canicas, y primos. Especially enjoyable is the inclusion of the popular Latino piñata song, hence the title. - Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library
|★★★★+||Grade: Preschool to 2|
by Yuyi Morales
Kahlo's unusual life story, background, and art have made her a frequent topic of biographies. Morales's perception of her creative process results in a fresh, winning take on an artist who has rarely been understood. The author uses strong verbs to give Kahlo voice. Each spread has just one or two words on it, both in English and Spanish. The text floats on the page, with the Spanish in a lighter color, adding to the ethereal, dreamlike feel of the book. -Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ
"Cleverly done, the sentences are done in English and Spanish, the Spanish almost a bright floral note next to the black English words. It is the illustrations here that are exceptional." - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★+||Age: 4 to 8 years
Grade: Preschool to 3
Dalia's Wondrous Hair | El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
by Laura Lacámara
[BILINGUAL] One day, a young Latina girl's thick, black, wavy tresses stand straight up into the air. This might sound like a set-up for a bad hair day, but rather than being appalled or upset, Dalia happily makes the most of it. She proceeds to add items in her hair to look more like the natural surroundings, in hopes of resembling a special tree for her mother. The childhood appeal of this little girl interacting with nature will resonate with a broad audience, who will like Dalia.
The Spanish translation is good, and it is just as enjoyable to read in English as it is in Spanish. At the end, the author includes a glossary of flora native to Cuba that are mentioned in the story. Additionally, there are some notes on how to create a butterfly garden. Lacámara's rich and colorful artwork beautifully complement the imaginative text. A fun and enjoyable read-aloud. -Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library
"Lacamara perfectly blends in her Cuban heritage to enrich a tale which is already enchanting in every regard." - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★||Grades: K to 2|
Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
[IN ENGLISH] The creators of Round Is a Tortilla are back with another Mexican American culture—infused concept book with universal appeal. A little girl and boy walk around their town pointing out the vivid palette that permeates their home and community. The Spanish translation of the featured color is also provided on each spread. Excellent for building vocabulary, this work introduces festive customs such as the Day of the Dead and Mexican folk dance, which are further explained in an extensive glossary. The diversity of the characters refreshingly reflects the diversity of the Latino community. Thong's buoyant rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud and Parra's stunning folk-art illustrations offer vibrant scenes that children will return to again and again. The exuberant depictions of cooking, outdoor parties, and fun craft-making invite myriad extension activities. -Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
"Green is a Chile Pepper uses Spanish and English to not only teach the colors but to also provide readers with a sense of Hispanic cultures. I think the book is fantastic!" - Reader review on Goodreads
|★★★★||Age: 3 to 5 years
Grade: Preschool to Kindergarten
Gabriel García Márquez (Gabito): Cuando los grandes eran pequeños
by Georgina Lázaro
[IN SPANISH] From the award-winning series Cuando los grandes eran pequeños, comes the long awaited book on Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. Children and adults alike will be fascinated to learn about his childhood and how he grew up to become the literary giant he is today.
Duerme, niño, duerme
by Laura Herrera
[IN SPANISH] Winner of Medalla Colibrí 2014 award. Laura Herrera based this book on the English lullaby Hush, Baby, Hush, but she set it in her native Chile. A mother soothes her son to sleep in this rhythmic picture book.
Regalos del corazón: Una historia para niños basada en las enseñanzas de la Filosofía Tolteca de Don Miguel Ruiz
by Larisa Curiel & Don José Ruiz
[IN SPANISH] Andrés is upset because he cant play another soccer game. He must go with his parents to a near town. When he meets Miguel, a renowned writer, he senses immediately that Andres is upset. Don Miguel talks to him and shares a secret to not to waste a moment of his life being angry. What he had in his mind like a dull gray day turns into one filled with joy and fun.
"un cuento infantil que se basa en las enseñanzas de la filosofía tolteca, aprendidas por el médico mexicano Miguel Ruiz, quien es autor del libro Los Cuatro Acuerdos, punto de partida de donde nace este texto infantil que en 31 páginas con una narrativa concisa, explica a los pequeños la importancia de ser uno mismo, dejando a un lado lo que otros piensen de nosotros, además de ser responsables de sus propios actos." - Reseña diario El Horizonte, México
Little Roja Riding Hood
by Susan Middleton Elya
[IN ENGLISH] Elya follows up Rubia and the Three Osos (her version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears") with this Mexican influenced and modern take on "Little Red Riding Hood." The book has a flair all its own: Little Roja's mother watches telenovelas, Little Roja drives an ATV, the wolf wears a bandana and skull necklace, Grandma has a laptop and a statue of Jesus, and when Little Roja saves the day, Grandma ends up investing in a good lock and security camera. Elya's engaging text features snappy rhymes and plenty of contextual clues for Spanish words, which are in easy-to-find bold type. Her rhyming scheme is essential in helping non-Spanish speakers with pronunciation. A glossary at the beginning of the book provides straightforward pronunciations and definitions for Spanish words. The main characters are well depicted and follow the story nicely. - Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH
"You will delight in reading this book to your children! Susan weaves Spanish words and rhyme throughout the retelling of this classic story... What better way for kids and parents to increase their Spanish vocabulary! " - Reader review on Amazon
|★★★★||Age: 5 to 8
Grade: K to 3
Cecilia and Miguel Are Best Friends | Cecilia y Miguel son mejores amigos
by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
[BILINGUAL] Readers follow the friendship of two children who ride bikes, fish, swim, and play tricks on each other. Through good times and bad, they continue their friendship, which grows stronger despite distance and time. When they finally meet again after attending different universities, Cecilia and Miguel eventually marry, and the bunny ears Cecilia holds up behind Miguel's head in their wedding photo (just as she did when the two were children) further emphasizes how long and deep their friendship is. Each paragraph of English is followed by one in Spanish, and the texts flow smoothly, almost lyrically, while the illustrations tie together scenes from Cecilia's and Miguel's lives. Children will notice the details in the images, such as the dog and cat that appear here and there. Hispanic traditions, such as the breaking of a piñata and a quinceañera party, are sprinkled throughout.
|★★★||Grades: 1 to 4|
Check out the Best Latino Children’s Books from 2013 here:
The Best 15 Latino Children’s Books from 2013
Check out these other articles on Spanish Books.