Books by Theme
Browse this rich collection of picture books for children 3-9 years old. You'll meet writers, artists, musicians, and others who made a difference through their creativity and work. You'll also discover stories about families and everyday life in Hispanic communities, as well as books about joyful festivals and holidays. We've also included some favorite folktales and beautiful poetry inspired by unique cultures, familiy traditions, and the landscape. Many books are written in Spanish and English. See Book Finder for more great titles!
A Birthday Basket for Tía
Cecilia and her cat, Chica, create a special birthday present for her great-aunt's 90th birthday — a basket filled with things Cecilia and her tía have shared. This affectionate autobiographical story is illustrated with warm colors, suggestive of Mexican American traditions.
A Library for Juana
This picture book biography introduces Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of Mexico's most beloved scholars and poets. At the age of three, Juana promised her sister's teacher that she was "quiet like a turtle" so that she could stay at the school and learn to read. Later, Juana would become a nun and produce poetry that is still learned by children in Mexico today. Handsome, detailed paintings evoke Mexican folk art and tell the story of Juana's life.
Rosalba imagines flying over New York City with her much loved abuela. The young girl uses a lovely mix of English and Spanish to describe their journey, moving from the busy streets of Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty. Brightly colored illustrations detail what Rosalba and her grandmother glimpse as they fly, and the rich tales of Abuela's memories.
Alma and How She Got Her Name
Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela thought her name was too long. That is until her dad shares the history behind it. Alma discovers pride in the strong relatives after whom she is named. The limited colors used in the drawings provide a look back and a look forward as Alma grows to recognize the strength in her name.
Animal Poems of the Iguazu
Inspired by a visit to the Iguazu National Park in South America, Francisco X. Alarcón celebrates its animals, skies, waterfalls, and more in these short and vibrant bilingual poems. Each page holds pulsating paintings that swirl and move, further vivifying each poem.
Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games
A selection of nursery rhymes and games from different countries are presented in this book in both Spanish and English. The rhymes are accompanied by gentle illustrations. Music appears with lyrics (again in both languages) at the end of this pleasing book.
Arroz con Leche
These traditional rhymes and songs from Latin America are presented in both English and Spanish. Gentle illustrations accompany the short verses, and show both cities and the countryside. Children and adults from Spanish-speaking backgrounds will recognize many of these fun songs and rhymes.
Barrio: José's Neighborhood / Barrio: El barrio de José
José lives in a diverse neighborhood where he's just as likely to hear Spanish, English, or Chinese. The appealing photographs in this book document José's life at home, at school, and on the streets of his colorful barrio in San Francisco, a city that is a dynamic mosaic of different cultures. Available in a Spanish.
Calling the Doves
Calling the Doves is poet Juan Felipe Herrera's story of his migrant farmworker childhood. In delightful and lyrical language, he recreates the joy of eating breakfast under the open sky, listening to Mexican songs in the little trailer house his father built, and celebrating with other families at a fiesta in the mountains. He remembers his mother singing songs and reciting poetry, and his father telling stories and calling the doves.
Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!
A trip to Brazil inspired this look at a unique sport called "capoeira." The result is a compelling journey into capoeira's history and its popularity around the world. The book begins with students at an academy in Oakland, California. Well-placed and -paced, full-color photographs chronicle this amazing activity.
Share the five days of Carnaval revelry — beginning with the lengthy preparations in Olinda, a northeastern Brazilian city. The book features stunning photographs and crisp text, handsomely formatted.
Charro: The Mexican Cowboy
Visit Guadalajara, Mexico and live for a day in the life of a Mexican horseman during the celebration known as el día del charro. In this photo-essay, Ancona discusses the training necessary to become a charro or a charra.
Chato and Novio Boy are the coolest cats in their East Los Angeles barrio. When a family of mice moves next door to Chato, he invites them to dinner. He's going to eat them for dinner, but the mice bring a friend along to surprise Chato and foil his plans. The text and pictures show the funny situation and the satisfying solution. In English sprinkled with Spanish.
Confetti: Poems for Children
Spanish words are incorporated naturally into this bright collection of poems that depict a day's activities in the Southwest. Vivid illustrations complement the verse to evoke the author's Mexican American background.
De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children
Bursting with color and spirit, this collection of Latin-American songs is a tribute to Latino culture. From traditional tunes to rhymes and hand games, De Colores has songs for all occasions and moods. Each song is accompanied by simple musical arrangements, with lyrics in both English and Spanish.
Día de los Muertos
A festive and colorful celebration of the Mexican and Latin American holiday. The rhyming narrative introduces the traditions practiced during El Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, from the sugary, skull-shaped candies (calaveras) and altars built in remembrance of the dearly departed to decorating tombstones and picnics at the cemetery. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout.
Dona Flor has gigantic proportions and unusual skills such as understanding the language of plants. Eventually, her talents are appreciated by the villagers in this attractively illustrated, richly told original tale. Winner of Pura Belpré Award. Also available in Spanish.
In warm, sparkling prose that moves easily from English to Spanish and back, the author traces the journey that she and her small son took in 1994, when they immigrated from Mexico to the United States The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism.
Caren and her family prepare for the festival of San Juan de Dios in Tultepec, a Mexican town noted for its fireworks. Full color photographs and lively text capture many aspects of this exciting tradition.
Full color photographs and informative text introduce four Hispanic holidays that are celebrated in the United States, including the Day of the Dead and Las Posadas. Each celebration is photographed in a different U.S. city.
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Featuring charming visuals and lively, often lyrical prose, this picture book introduces Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, interweaving biographical details while highlighting her special relationships with pets. Folk-art style illustrations vividly evoke the Mexican environment.
From the Bellybutton of the Moon and other Summer Poems / Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano
The poet remembers summers growing up in Mexico in poems presented in both English and Spanish. Readers meet his family and join them in the everyday joys of the sunny season. Illustrations are as colorful and evocative as the words.
Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English
Using the alphabet as a pattern, paintings and brief poems explore rural life in Mexico presented first in Spanish and followed by English. From A to Z, brilliant illustrations and fluid poems evoke the plants, and more and the emotional impact on the lives of farm workers.
Do you know why a weather vane has a little rooster on the top, spinning around to tell us which way the wind is blowing? Here is the answer in this old story about Half-Chicken, who has one eye, one leg, and one wing. His adventures take him far and wide until he's carried straight to the top, in this lively retelling — in Spanish and English — of a traditional folktale.
Readers learn of Mexican migrant workers' difficult lives in this photo-documentary. Despite backbreaking labor in poor conditions, the workers take pride in what they do and struggle to help their families get ahead.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
As a young boy, Cesar Chavez grew up on an 80-acre ranch in Arizona in the midst of joyous family reunions. When his family had to leave Arizona, however, to work as migrant laborers in California, their lives were turned upside down. During these excrutiating days and nights, Cesar struggled — but then found the resolve to one day help his fellow workers. Yuyi Morales brings Cesar's childhood and early days as an organizer to life with stunning illustrations.
I Love Saturdays y domingos
A girl visits both sets of grandparents on weekends. On Saturdays, she speaks English with Grandpa and Grandma, while on Sundays, los domingos, she speaks Spanish with Abeulito and Abeulita. The format provides a glimpse at the subtle differences between cultures and highlights their similarities, one of which is each set of grandparents' love for their granddaughter. Spanish words are interspersed in the fluid text.
In My Family / En mi familia
Kingsville, on the border of Mexico and Texas, comes to life in words and pictures in this book. Readers will share the simple joys of eating, dancing, and celebrating as the artist remembers her own childhood. Her stories, presented in both English and Spanish, are accompanied by her bright paintings.
Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
Señor Calvera is back! This time, he is looking forward to Grandma Beetle's birthday party — but he can't figure out what gift to give her. He consults with Zelmiro the Ghost and chooses one gift for every letter of the alphabet: acordéon, bigotes, cosquillas (accordian, moustaches, and tickles). It isn't until he reaches the letter Z, however, that Señor Calvera finds the best gift of all for Grandma Beetle.
La Princesa and the Pea
El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too. Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, with bilingual text and vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.
Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers
Thirteen poems rejoice in Latina women, their diversity, and their roles. This short, illustrated collection celebrates Spanish-speaking countries as well as bilingualism in the United States. Illustrations swirl across each page, combining computer generated and traditional art with energetic results.
Lucia the Luchadora
Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her "girls can't be superheroes," suddenly she doesn't feel so mighty. That's when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition.
Mamá Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury
This book is a collection of Spanish-language lullabies, finger games, nursery rhymes, jump-rope songs, riddles, birthday songs, and more. It compiles songs from different Spanish-speaking countries. The English translations keep the essence of the native language, and grab the reader using captivating terminology.
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina
Meet Marisol McDonald, a spunky young girl with fiery red hair and brown skin who wears green polka dots with purple stripes, mixes English and Spanish, and eats peanut butter and jelly burritos. Everyone tells her she doesn't match, until one day she tries matching — and discovers that it makes her miserable. At the end of the day, however, her teacher shares a special secret with her and lets her know she likes Marisol for who she is: a creative, bilingual Peruvian-Scottish-American! This poignant story, based on Monica Brown's childhood, celebrates each individual's uniqueness and reminds children that it's ok not to fit into boxes that other people may put you into. Bilingual text.
Murals: Walls That Sing
Ancona takes a look at Latino and Hispanic murals within the United States in this fascinating photo-essay. The photos vary between broad shots, close-ups that reveal details, and images of a variety of people either creating or viewing the paintings.
"Abuelita's hair is the color of salt. Her face is as crinkled as a dried chile. She booms out words as wild as blossoms blooming. She stuffs her carcacha — her jalopy — with all the things she needs: a plumed snake, a castle, a skeleton, and more. Her grandson knows he has the most amazing grandmother ever — with a very important job. What does Abuelita do? Readers will enjoying guessing in this story sprinkled with Spanish and infused with love." — Amazon Review
My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz / Me llamo Celia: la vida de Celia Cruz
The beautiful artwork of this award-winning picture book about salsa queen Celia Cruz practically jumps off the page, and conveys the spirit and rhythmic energy of her music. Learn about Cruz's childhood in Havana and her entry into the world of salsa music from vibrant illustrations and text presented in English and Spanish.
My Name Is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez / Me llamo Gabito
As she did in My Name Is Celia/Me llamo Celia, Monica Brown tells the story of young Gabriel García Márquez's life in this bilingual picture book. Brown also provides children with a simple introduction to magical realism by showing how young Gabriel’s surroundings and imagination merged in fantastic ways, fostering his creativity and building the foundation for the legendary characters and stories he would later create. Beautiful illustrations complement the lyrical text.
My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral / Me llamo Gabriela: la vida de Gabriela Mistral
"My name is Gabriela Mistral. It is a name I chose myself because I like the sound of it." With these words, Monica Brown introduces us to the Chilean poet and author who, in 1945, became the first Latin American writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The lyrical text and exquisite illustrations bring Gabriela's childhood and talent to life for young readers.
Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales / Habia una vez: Cuentos tradicionales Latino Americanos
Animals and people wise and foolish are presented in these tales retold. Their origins, from a range of Spanish-speaking countries including Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Spain, are retold and handsomely illustrated — just right for reading aloud.
Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
Neftali always loved nature and words. This fondness allowed Neftali — better known as Pablo Neruda — to create poetry in a "voice [that] was heard across nations and ocean." Rich language and lush illustrations that incorporate words in Spanish and English are sure to enthuse young writers while introducing this Nobel-winning poet.
This compelling photo essay from George Ancona follows the preparations of young Pablo and his family for the Day of the Dead as they remember Pablo's grandmother. Ancona's photos cover a wide range of the family's activities, from a trip to the market to the family altar overflowing with marigolds. Ancona offers readers an authentic glimpse of daily life in Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as a sense of the love and care with which the family prepares for the celebration. Spanish version available.
Pelé: King of Soccer / Pele, El rey del futbol
Did you know that as a boy, Pelé played soccer in bare feet with a grapefruit instead of a soccer ball? Monica Brown shares the inspirational story of the beloved soccer star's rise from humble beginnings to becoming El rey del fútbol. Rudy Gutiérrez's brilliant and fluid illustrations of Pelé and "the beautiful game" of soccer leap off the page. Bilingual text. Curriculum guide available.
Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes
Rhymes from Spanish speaking countries are presented in Spanish and recreated in English to form a bilingual collection, with attention to the sounds and patterns of both languages. Vivid illustrations complete this appealing book.
Rafi and Rosi: Carnival!
It's time for Carnival! Three short stories in this Easy Reader present the adventures shared by Rafi and Rosi, charming and mischievous young tree frogs who are brother and sister, and live in Puerto Rico. The stories include young Rosi dressing up in "Queen for a Day," as well as Rafi's "magical" periscope, used to watch the Carnival parade. Children and adults alike will enjoy the amusing experiences of these two siblings, as well as the cheerful and colorful illustrations. Spanish version also available.
Snake terrifies children and their parents. He claims to be the "king of the road." But with gifts from the animals, Desert Woman fashions Roadrunner to defeat Snake. In the tradition of a folktale, this original story explains why rattlesnakes have their rattle and how cooperation can save the day.
Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes
Circles, squares, triangles, ovals and stars are all around! The rhyming text incorporates Spanish words which are defined in illustrations reminiscent of folk art. A glossary of Spanish words concludes this engaging glimpse into Mexican culture.
Señor Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America
Spanish words add flavor to these appealing folktales, cuentos favoritos, carefully illustrated to reflect their Latin American roots. Readers young and old will recognize Juan Bobo's foolishness, and delight in the sound of the language in the tale of Little Half Chick. Like all folktales, these are ideal for sharing aloud.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Familys Fight for Desegregation
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a successful lawsuit in federal court.
Shake It, Morena! And Other Folktales from Puerto Rico
Rhymes, games, and more are presented with richly colored illustrations evoke the traditions of Puerto Rico and the universality of a child's activities and interests. Spanish verses are woven throughout the text.
Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and César Chávez/Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chávez
Many years ago in California, an energetic young Girl Scout named Dolores worked to raise money for soldiers fighting in World War II. A thoughtful young boy named Cesar worked in the fields to help his family put food on the table. As young adults, these two extraordinary individuals would meet and spend the rest of their lives working tirelessly on behalf of migrant workers and children through nonviolent struggle — side by side. Monica Brown and Joe Cepeda bring the story of Dolores and Cesar to life through this vibrant bilingual book, which will make an excellent addition to units on migrant farmworkers, civil rights, or women's history.
The Bossy Gallito /Bossy Gallito / El gallo de bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale
Travel with Bossy Rooster to his uncle's wedding. Of course the road is not entirely smooth in this cumulative, handsomely illustrated tale from Cuba — and that's when the fun begins!
The Most Beautiful Place in the World
Now that Juan's mother has left him with his grandmother, he shines shoes to earn a living. More than anything else, though, 7-year old Juan wants to learn to read and go to school. Guatemala comes alive through the daily lives of Juan and his grandmother and the detailed black/white illustrations.
The Piñata Maker
Fiestas often involve puppets, masks, and piñatas. Meet Tío Rico, the elderly piñata maker in a Mexican town, whose artful creations are shown from start to finish in this handsomely photographed book. The text is presented in both Spanish and English.
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano
Written in verse, this is a Pura Belpré Award-winning portrait of Juan Francisco Manzano, the poet who was born a slave in Cuba in 1797. Margarita Engle explores Manzano's poetic interpretations of his world and what freedom really means in a slave society.
The Rainbow Tulip
Stella and her brothers speak Spanish at home but English at school. Being different is both scary and exciting. Stella learns this when she prepares for the school's celebration of May Day. She finds a way to honor her Mexican background by wearing a special skirt that is both alike yet different from the other girls'. Stella, like many children, can take pride in being part of two cultures. (In English sprinkled with Spanish).
The Storyteller's Candle
This is the story of librarian Pura Belpré, told through the eyes of two young children who are introduced to the library and its treasures just before Christmas. Lulu Delacre's lovely illustrations evoke New York City at the time of the Great Depression, as well as the close-knit and vibrant Puerto Rican community that was thriving in El Barrio during this time. Bilingual Spanish-English text.
The Three Golden Oranges
Far on the other side of the mountains, next to an enchanted castle, grows a tree with three golden oranges. It is there that three brothers must journey if they wish to find a wife. Will the brothers be able to avert misfortune by working together? Will they be strong enough to break the spell that a wicked sorcerer has placed on the castle? Alma Flor Ada offers this poetic retelling of a well-loved traditional story about Blancaflor, a mythical young woman who appears in stories throughout the Hispanic world.
Tito Puente, Mambo King / Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo
Tito Puente was born to be a musician. He grew up to become the Mamba King to whose music people danced the mambo, rumba, and cha-cha. Rhythmic language — in English and Spanish — and animated illustrations briefly present Tito's life and the impact of music throughout.
Tomás and the Library Lady
Tomás, child of migrant workers, visits the town library to find stories like the ones told by his grandfather. There he meets a librarian who provides him with a cool place, stories and books, and friendship before Tomás and his family move on to the next place. Handsomely illustrated in earth tones, this touching story was inspired by the real life of writer and educator, Tomás Rivera. Also available in Spanish.
Turning Pages: My Life Story
Books and reading can be “magic potions that could fuel [young people] with the bravery of superheroes” and oh! so much more. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shares her story revealing the power of books throughout. Illustrations echo the rich language and emotions, supported by endpages with period photographs of Sotomayor, her life and career.
Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba
In writing about her childhood growing up in Camaguey, Cuba, Alma Flor Ada evokes all the senses. Readers will smell jasmine, coffee, and grandmother's perfume. They will see the bats flying overhead and hear adults share stories. Companion volume to Where the Flame Trees Bloom.
Mixed media illustrations evoke artist Frida Kahlo and lyrical language is used to suggest her life. Rather than a biography, this homage to art and an artist is visually stunning and will likely generate interest in many topics. An afterward about Frida in Spanish and English culminates the presentation.
Waiting for the Biblioburro
Meet Ana, a young girl who loves to read. There aren't many books in her small Colombian village, though — until the day Ana meets the Biblioburro, a librarian who brings books through the mountains on the backs of two strong donkeys. Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, this story asks readers, "How far would you go for a book?"
What Can You Do With a Paleta?
As she strolls through her barrio, a young girl introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer's day — there's so much to do with a paleta!
¡Yum! & ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!
Celebrate the native foods of the Americas — peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more — through haiku poetry and stunning artwork from award-winning illustrator Rafael López.
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