Hispanic and Latino Heritage Books for Kids and Teens

Not Just for Latino Book Month or Hispanic Heritage Month

These recommended reading lists, award-winning books, and articles feature books for children and teens that focus on Hispanic and Latino heritage. However, these books are too good to be limited to Latino Books Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. The children's and young adult (YA) books highlighted here should be read and enjoyed year round.

Father Reading His Son a Book
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The Pura Belpré Award is co-sponsored by the ALSC, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA Affiliate. It's an excellent resource for books for children and young teens by Latina/Latino authors and illustrators that reflect the Latino cultural experience.

Pura Belpré honorees include the novels The Dreamer and Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Pat Mora’s picture book Book Fiesta: Celebrate Children’s Day / Book Day - Celebremos El Dia de Los Niños / El da de Los Libros, illustrated by Rafael López. For more about the librarian for whom the award is named, see a review of The Storyteller's Candle, a picture book biography.

Sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), the Américas Book Award recognizes "U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States."

In its Hispanic Heritage Month Recommended Reading List, the Florida Department of Education provides a long list of recommended books. Although only the title and author of each book are provided, the list is divided into five categories: Elementary (K-Grade 2), Elementary (Grades 3-5), Middle School (Grades 6-8), High School (Grades 9-12) and Adult Reading.

The Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award was established by the Texas State University College of Education. According to the award website, the award was created "to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. The award was established in 1995 and was named in honor of Dr. Tomas Rivera, a distinguished alumnus of Texas State University." The site provides information about the award and the winners and their children's books.

This article from School Library Journal contains recommended books for elementary, middle and high school students. It includes a summary of each book and the recommended grade levels. The reading list includes fiction and nonfiction. As the article states, "The books in this bibliography go some distance toward delineating, even if indirectly, the breadth of culture and experience included in what it means to be Hispanic."

This reading list from the publisher Scholastic includes an annotated list, with cover art, of 25 recommended books. The books cover a range of grades and each book's listing includes both the interest level and the grade level equivalent. When you move your cursor over each book's cover art a small window pops up with a brief synopsis of the book.

This sampler comes from Mexican American children's book author and poet Pat Mora's website. Mora provides two lists and some interesting statistics. There is a long list of children's Latino authors and illustrators, followed by a list of Latino young adult authors. Many of the names on both lists are linked to the author or illustrator's website.

This recommended reading list of children's books by Hispanic and Latin American children's authors comes from Colorín Colorado, which describes itself as "a free web-based, bilingual service that provides information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners." The list includes cover art and a description of each book, including the age level and reading level. The list includes books for children between the ages of three and 12.

This list from the Seattle Public Library includes a brief summary of each of the recommended books. The Latino list includes children's fiction and nonfiction. A few of the books are bilingual. While the cover art, title, author, and publication date are listed, you have to click on each title for a brief description of the book.

This list of books for teens comes from REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. The list includes cover art, a summary of the story, themes, the age it is recommended for and the culture featured. Cultures include Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, Cuban, Jews in Argentina, Argentine-American and Chilean, among others.