Happy National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month! Between September 15th and October 15th, our country celebrates National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month that honors the contributions and cultures of both Hispanic and Latinx people. Due to a crazy start of the school year, I have not been able to do the research this article deserves until now. Hopefully, you have already started to honor this month with books, lessons, and discussion with your students and children. Either way, we at Colorful Pages wanted to compose a list of diverse books that will help you start or continue to honor latinx heritage. 

Within this article, I list 20 diverse books: 9 Picture Books, 5 Early Chapter & Middle Grade Books, and 6 Young Adult Books. Each of these books are written by a #OwnVoices author who identifies as Latinx. Pick out a couple of these books for your children or students’ age range and start to celebrate National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!

Picture Books

¡Todos a Celebrar! A Hispanic Customs & Traditions Alphabet Book, by Dr. Ma. Alma González Pérez

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration

Age Range: 3-9 years old

I know as a Kindergarten teacher I am ALWAYS looking for amazing alphabet books and finally I am finding this one that explores different elements of cultures. Dr Ma. Alma González Pérez writes this alphabet book that shows a different element of the Hispanic culture for each letter of the alphabet. This book is also bilingual because it is written in Spanish and English. 

Lucía the Luchadora, by Cynthia Leonor Garza

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration

Age Range: 3-7 years old

Lucia the Luchadora, by Cynthia Leonor Garza

All of my students absolutely LOVED this book when I read it to them a couple months ago. Lucía the Luchadora is about Lucía, a Mexican girl, facing a problem when boys tell her that “girls can’t be superheroes”. Luckily, she becomes empowered when her abuela teaches her about the Mexican lucha libre tradition! 

In this book, Cynthia Leonor Garza shares about a Mexican cultural tradition while also writing about a girl overcoming sexist comments. Every one of my students loved this book of perseverance and acceptance!

Be Bold! Be Brave!: 11 Latinas Who Made US History, by Naibe Reynoso

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Dependent on the Person Covered

Age Range: 5-8 years old

This great bilingual picture book shares the biographies of eleven latinas who made history! Each person has two pages with illustrations: one written in Spanish and one written in English. Kids will love these great rhymes that will also engage them in learning about important role models from history. It also promotes the beauty of the Spanish language as a bilingual book. 

Fearless Trailblazers: 11 Latinos Who Made US History, by Naibe Reynoso

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Dependent on the Person Covered

Age Range: 5-8 years old

Naibe Reynoso also wrote this picture book about 11 Latinos who made US History. Each person has two pages dedicated to their biography: one page in Spanish and one page in English. Reynoso writes engaging rhymes about each of these heroes and I love the cute illustrations by Jone Leal that compliment the words well. 

Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration & Conversation

Age Range: 4-8 years old

Yuyi Morales writes and illustrates this beautiful picture book memoir. Dreamers follows a woman and her baby as they immigrate to another country. They are met with both beauty and obstacles. At the end, Morales writes about how they became dreamers. This book is great to introduce immigration from the perspective of immigrants. 

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, by Duncan Tonatiuh

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration 

Age Range: 4-8 years old

Dear Primo is a picture book with two cousins who write back and forth to each other. Charlie and Carlitos write to each other about their lives in America and Mexico. Readers will see that children live different, but also very similar lives in each country!

Where Are You From?, by Yamile Saied Méndez

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Conversation

Age Range: 4-8 years old

Where Are You From? is a picture book I wish was in my own elementary classroom growing up because of how much I got asked this question and how hurt it left me feeling about my racial identity! This picture book is all about a little girl struggling with the othering and hurtful question she gets from her classmates: “Where are you from?”. In the book, she goes to her abuelo to ask him how to deal with this question and he helps her see the beauty in her heritage and identity. This is a great book to talk about the prejudice (and sometimes racism) that stems from this question and othering of communities of color, specifically Latnix communities. 

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics, by Margarita Engle

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Dependent on the Person Covered

Age Range: 8-12 years old

This book has poems about different amazing Hispanics and their contribution to history! Each person also has illustrations to accompany the informative poems. Bravo has poems about Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, and Tomás Rivera.

Islandborn, by Junot Díaz

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: mostly Exploration

Age Range: 5-8 years old

Islandborn is a beautifully written and illustrated book! Leo Espinosa’s illustrations greatly complement Junot Díaz’s story about Lola. Lola is a little girl struggling with her teacher’s question about where her family immigrated from. However, through her friends and family, she is able to learn more about the Dominican Republic and paint a beautiful picture of the island. I love Islandborn and also appreciate the diverse representation of Afro-Latinx people!

Early Chapter & Middle Grade Books

Stella Díaz Has Something to Say, by Angela Dominguez

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Mostly Exploration with a little Conversation

Age Range: 6-9 years

Angela Dominguez creates a fun and charming character in Stella Díaz Has Something to Say. Stella and her best friend, Jessica, are in different classes this year and she feels incredibly lonely. But then, a new boy comes into her class and Stella wants to be his friend. This early chapter book is perfect for talking about friendships in school and putting yourself out there.   

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan 

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Conversation

Age Range: 8+ years old

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Muñoz Ryan writes about Esperanza, a girl who is forced to leave her ranch in Mexico to flee to California. Esperanza is coming to terms with the sudden change in socioeconomic status and culture. It is set in the 1930s around the Great Depression era.

Efrén Divided, by Ernesto Cisneros

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Conversation 

Age Range: 8-13 years old

In Efrén Divided, Efrén, a young boy, loves his family. His Amá and Apá work so hard to create a loving household for Efrén and his two younger siblings. However, one day, Amá, who is undocumented, does not return from work because she is deported to Tijuana, México. Efrén steps up to help take care of his younger siblings and aid his family in finding a way to get Amá back. This middle grade novel is a must-read that acts as an intense mirror or window for students. It gives insight to deportation, immigration, and ICE from the perspective of a child that students can relate to. 

Santiago’s Road Home, by Alexandra Diaz

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Conversation

Age Range: 8-13 years old

Santiago’s Road Home is a middle grade chapter book that is raw and immersive. It details the experience of Santiago, a 12-year-old who is trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States because of his abusive family. He joins a young mother and her daughter in their journey. However, they are on the brink of death from dehydration and exhaustion when ICE agents find, separate, and detain them. 

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speakers Spanish, by Pablo Cartaya

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration

Age Range: 10-13 years old

Pablo Cartaya writes about Marcus Vega, an eighth grader who takes care of his younger brother while his mom works long hours at the Pennsylvania airport. However, after Marcus stands up for his brother and punches a school bully, his mom takes the three of them to Puerto Rico. Now, Marcus is meeting relatives that feel distant and exploring the island while trying to find his father, who walked out on the family ten years ago. 

Young Adult Books

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration

Age Range: 14+ years old

In this young adult novel, Erika L. Sánchez explores Mexican family dynamics and culture through Julia’s journey without her older sister, Olga. Olga has always been seen as the “perfect Mexican daughter”. However, when Olga passes away from a tragic accident, the family falls apart and Julia is left to try to clean up the pieces while learning some hard truths about all her family members. 

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Between Exploration and Conversation

Age Range: Young Adult +

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Isabel Quintero authored this young adult novel that features Gabi Hernandez’s diary. Gabi writes about her last year of high school as she tries to push through teenage obstacles and understand her identity. This is one of my favorite young adult novels. Quintero does a compelling job at capturing the thoughts of a teenage woman who is trying her best to navigate life.

Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt De La Peña

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Conversation

Age Range: 14+ years old

In Mexican WhiteBoy, Danny, a biracial Mexican-White teenager, leaves his primarily white neighborhood to spend the summer with his cousin. His cousin lives in a neighborhood where mostly Mexican-Americans reside. There, Danny deals with his identity crisis. On The Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, Mexican WhiteBoy is a Conversation Book because the main character’s identity is challenged by discrimination and self-discovery. It would be a great book to engage students in important conversations about race and identity.

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Exploration with some Conversation

Age Range: Young Adult +

In this powerful and affirming young adult novel, Juliet Milagros Palante, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican from the Bronx, ventures off to Portland, Oregon to intern with her favorite feminist author. However, the night before Juliet leaves, she comes out to her family and now isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. Nevertheless, Juliet goes off to Portland on a journey to find herself amidst her dream internship. Gabby Rivera’s novel is a great coming-of-age book that details the exploration and empowerment of race and identity. ⁣

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, by Jennifer De Leon

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Conversation

Age Range: 14 years old

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From is a young adult novel that explores identity amidst racism within a school context. Liliana Cruz, the main character who is a first-generation American Latinx teenager, is trying to fit in at her practically all-white school in an upscale neighborhood. However, Liliana is simultaneously uncovering family secrets surrounding undocumentation and the stress her family is under. 

Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Exploration & Conversation

Age Range: 14+ years old

Aiden Thomas is definitely a young adult author to watch. In a Q&A, the author said, “It was also really important for me to write a book where LGBTQIA, and Latinx kids could see themselves being powerful heroes. Right now, these kids are living in a world where a lot of hate and suffering is zeroed in on them. I wanted them to see themselves being supported and loved for who they are.” Aiden Thomas’s novel, Cemetery Boys, follows Yadriel, a trans teen boy who is on a mission to prove to his traditional Latinx family that he is a real brujo and that they should accept his true gender. However, Yadriel’s ritual goes wrong when he summons the wrong ghost. Now, he’s stuck with Julian Diaz and they team up to find out what happened to both Julian and Miguel, Yadriel’s murdered cousin. 

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