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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.