Did you know that Latinos make up about 15% of the United States population?  And did you know that only 2% of the children’s books published each year are written by or about Latinos.  With such a disparity, educators have a great opportunity to bring some of the great books that have been published to their classrooms. What better way to introduce students to Latino authors than by celebrating Latino Book Month!!

In case you haven’t heard, May is Latino Books Month! As the school year winds down and the weather warms up, it’s a good occasion to carve out time to celebrate the Latino experience with our students. All of the books included in this list were written by Latinos and provide insight into a rich culture. Many titles also illustrate important lessons about the challenges faced by immigrants and the hardships of starting one’s life over in a new country. These lessons can help build empathy among all students.

Elementary Books

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

A grandmother and her granddaughter go on a magical journey around New York City as Abuela tells the story of arriving in the United States for the first time. This book weaves Spanish words into the narration and features beautiful descriptions.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto & Ed Martinez

While making tamales with her mother for Christmas, Maria accidentally drops her mother’s ring in the dough. Now she and her cousins have to eat 24 tamales to find it! Will they be able to achieve this feat? Students will love this fun story.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

This autobiographical tale introduces readers to Yuyi and her son, Kelly, who came to the U.S. from Mexico. Together, using books from the public library, they learn to speak English. This book contains beautiful, poetic language and gorgeous illustrations.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Meg Medina is being hailed as the next Judy Blume. In this book, sixth grader Merci is dealing with feeling like an outsider at her private school in Florida. At home, her beloved grandfather’s health is failing. This is a coming-of-age tale with a lot of heart.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

The Circuit by Fancisco Jiménez

Fancisco Jiménez went on to become a professor at Santa Clara University, but his life in the U.S. started humbly when he and his family crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 1947. This classic book contains both heartbreaking and uplifting stories about Jiménez’s young life as a migrant farm worker.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

Secondary Books

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This classic is actually a series ofshort stories and descriptions that follow Esperanza and her life as a Mexican-American on Mango Street.As Ms. Cisneros said herself, the stories add up “to tell one big story, each story contributing to the whole—like beads in a necklace.”

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

This book follows the García girls as their family arrives in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. Life in America in the 1960’s is much different from their home country, and the whole family must make a lot of adjustments! The story is told through multiple narrators, which keeps readers on their toes.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Ortega lives a privileged life of wealth in Mexico, but after a tragedy occurs, she and her mother have to flee to the United States. They end up in a farm camp in California, where her life is dramatically different.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This amazing book is the debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. It follows Xiomara Batista, a teen growing up in Harlem, who uses slam poetry as a way of expressing all of the emotions she keeps inside.

Celebrate Latino Book Month in Your Class this May

I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña

This intense, complex, and realistic story follows Kidd, whose parents are gone and who is living in a therapeutic group home. Kidd must learn to face his past while also experiencing love for the first time.

  • Megan Panek

 

 

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