SUGGESTED READING BOOKS
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are a few multicultural books that reflect the beauty and strength of the unique voices of Latino culture. More books can also be found here.
A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia
By Julia Alvarez • Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
Knopf Books for Young Readers • 2015 • 40 pages
After their olive crop fails, Maria fears that her family will have to abandon their farm on the new island colony. Then, one night she dreams of a mysterious beautiful lady shrouded by trees with branches hung with hundreds of little suns. They are oranges like the ones Maria's parents once ate in their homeland, Valencia, Spain. That very day Maria and her family plant the seeds that soon yield a magnificent orange grove and save the farm. But who was the mysterious lady who appeared in her dream and will Maria ever find her again?
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred
By Samantha R. Vamos • Illustrated by Rafael López
Charlesbridge • 2011 • 32 pages
The farm maiden makes the best arroz con leche! In this award-winning story, newly available in paperback, children observe the preparation of the traditional dish as they learn Spanish words and make logical connections. Inspired by “The House that Jack Built,” each rhyme in this cumulative tale builds on the previous one. The Spanish vocabulary words are taught in context, which should help children to remember them longer, and better.The back of the book includes a two-page recipe for arroz con leche, and a glossary of Spanish words used in the text along with their English language definitions and a pronunciation guide. The original hardcover edition of the book won the 2012 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Award for its vibrant illustrations and was named a 2012 Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association (ALA). A wonderful addition to schools libraries, and a perfect choice for the abuelitas in your children’s lives.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale
Written & Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams • 2013 • 32 pages
Pancho Rabbit’s dad has gone north to find work and make money for his family. He has been gone a long time and his family and friends miss him. They get word that he is coming on a certain day, and the whole village prepares a feast for his return. When late in the night they realize that he’s not coming home, Pancho decides that he will go north to fetch his father. The trip begins when Coyote offers to help him. After confronting many dangers, Pancho is trapped and helpless until his father and his friends find and rescue him. Together, they all return to the village safely.
While some children will read and enjoy this story because of the rabbit’s bravery and the safe return of his father, others will read into it the truth of migrants who search for work away from their homes, and how their families worry about them while they are gone. These readers especially will understand the play on words when they read about the Coyote, and realize that this fictional story is grounded in reality.
The author/illustrator’s hand-drawn culturally relevant images are collaged digitally. His truth telling is forthright and gentle enough for young readers, and he includes pages in the back of the book that offer ways for parents and guardians to benefit from this wonderful book. Recommended for those wishing to learn about migrant families and schools with migrant populations.
On My Block
Editied by Dana Goldberg
Lee & Low • 2012 • 30 pages
Ages 6 and up
On My Block is a true celebration of diversity in words and pictures. In this collection of essays and images, a multicultural group of illustrators introduces us to the places that have shaped their lives and influenced their work.
This is a book for parents and children to share together, as younger children will need help reading the personal essays. The full-page illustrations take us on journey after journey. The fantasy of the cinema, Brooklyn rooftops, and lush gardens are all here to explore in the paintings of these artists, whose backgrounds are as varied as the places they share.
On My Block is the perfect spark for important conversations about where we come from, and what we love in the places we call “home.”
Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes
By Roseanne Greenfield Thong • Illustrated by John Parra
Chronicle • 2013 • 40 pages
Ages 4-7In this vibrant and engaging book, children will read about the Hispanic influence on the world that surrounds them as they learn about the shapes of everyday items such as squares that are ventanas (windows), triangles that are crunchy chips for guacamole, and circles that double as campanas (bells).
The interesting rhyming text focuses on Latino culture throughout, and Parra’s colorful full-page illustrations will certainly catch the eye of a young child. Best of all, included at the end of the book is a handy glossary with definitions of all the Spanish words used in the text.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina
By Monica Brown • Illustrated by Sara Palacios
Children's Book Press • 2011 • 32 pages
This delightful book is a welcomed celebration of uniqueness when peer pressure demands conformity! Author Brown draws from her own biography to create this tale of a young girl whose Peruvian-Scottish roots make her stand out. Her very name—Marisol McDonald—screams difference.
Marisol enjoys writing her unusual name by combining cursive and print letters, something her teacher frowns upon. With a mom and dad who hail from different parts of the world, her physical appearance is also unusual. Red hair and brown skin “don’t match,” her cousin declares. Marisol’s mixed cultural heritage has shaped her to the core: She hates clothes that match—the more colors and patterns, the better. Her taste buds crave odd food combinations, such as peanut butter and jelly burritos. Mixing English and Spanish is likewise normal for her. At school, kids turn up their noses at Marisol’s natural inclinations. How can she fit in?
One day, Marisol decides to conform. The eye-opening discovery for both Marisol and readers is that she is not happier when she looks and acts like everyone else—she is absolutely miserable instead. Hurray for the teacher who recognizes Marisol’s struggle and praises her uniqueness, and for this heartwarming tale of a triumphant misfit!
Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/ Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual
By Monica Brown • Illustrated by Sara Palacios
Children's Book Press • 2013 • 40 pages
In this follow up to Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina (Children’s Press), Marisol MacDonald “combines” many different things at once: with a Peruvian mom and an American dad, her dark skin contrasts with her bright orange hair; she puts orange juice in her cereal instead of milk; wears green stripes with red flowers; and for her eighth birthday, plans a giant “clash bash!” Instead of picking just one theme, she decides to have a soccer-unicorn-princess-pirate party!
But what Marisol wants most for her birthday is for her beloved abuelita from Peru to visit. It’s been two years since Marisol last saw her grandma, and she’s been saving money in her piggy bank to pay for a plane ticket for her to travel to the United States. Despite this, Marisol’s mother explains that it is not just the cost of the trip that is an issue; her grandmother lacks a visa to travel. Although disappointed, Marisol manages to have a fantastic time at her birthday party–and her parents haveone more surprise in store. This truly bilingual book, which intersperses Spanish and English terms in both versions of the text, includes a glossary of important terms used in the book with pronunciation guides in both languages.