National Latino Books Month

This May we are celebrating Latino Book Month where we are highlighting incredible and inspiring Latino/a picture books. This month’s blog is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with Latino authors and Latino stories depicting themes of bilingualism, food, activism, cultural heritage, and folklore. Through a combination of biographical, auto-biographical, fictional, and non-fictional picture books we want to share the stories of Latino authors and the profound impact on children’s literature.

Aguilera, Claudio
9 Kilometers. 2023. Picture Book.
9 Kilometers is set in the beautiful landscape of southern Chile. It tells the story of a young boy who travels 9 kilometers (over five and a half miles) through the mountains and rainforests of Chile to get to school. The young boy on his long walk encounters butterflies, lizards, and passes the time counting his steps all 15,000 of them. This compelling story by Claudio Aguilera exhibits the perseverance of this young child and the realities many children face in their journeys to get an education.
SE. Ag937nu: E

Engle, Margarita
Water Day. 2023. Picture Book.
In this insightful picture book Margarita Engle spotlights a young girl’s community in Cuba where the entire community rejoices in the arrival of the water man who visits the town weekly to distribute water to her village. Water Day is an exemplary tale on the global water crisis affecting communities such as this small village that no longer has access to water. In order to access a water supply, the village must get help from the water man whose visits to the village are a celebration for the presence of water.
SE. En35wa

Fernandez Nitsche, Melisa
Cantora: Mercedes Sosa, the Voice of Latin America. Picture Book. 2023.
This biographical picture book tells the story of Mercedes Sosa a prominent Argentinian singer whose folk music about justice and human rights resonated with Latin America. Sosa’s passion in her music gave voice to the voiceless and became a symbol of resistance for not only her native country of Argentina but also of Latin America. Unfortunately, her music grabbed the attention of Argentinian government officials that led to her exile in the 1970’s by the Argentinian dictatorship. This picture book is an inspiring tale of the life of Mercedes Sosa. The author does a tremendous job through illustrious colorways and evocative language to display a figure in history that became a beacon for freedom and justice.
SB. So71fe

Genhart, Michael
Spanish is the Language of my Family. 2023. Picture Book.
Michael Genhart in Spanish is the Language of my Family reveals his own cultural experience through stories told by his mother on the experience generations of Latinos went through by being punished for speaking Spanish at school. This story centers around a young boy who is preparing for his school’s Spanish spelling bee and asks his grandmother how to pronounce certain Spanish words that he is having trouble trying to spell. As his grandmother helps him study, she begins to express how differently her life was during school when she was a little girl where she was only ever allowed to speak English at school. Hearing his grandmother’s story motivates and inspires the young boy to make his family proud. Genhart’s picture book highlights an inter-generational story on cultural pride, the heritage we share with our family, and the ties that bind each generation. This story highlights how new generations of Latinos and Spanish speakers are finding inventive ways to rejuvenate the language.
SE. G287sp

Kemp, Laekan Zea
A Crown for Corina. 2023. Picture Book.
It is Corina’s birthday, and she has the special privilege of picking out beautiful flowers from her abuela’s garden to make the biggest flower crown. Corina’s abuela helps her pick out flowers that each have a special meaning and symbolize members of her family who she holds dear. From sunflowers to morning glories, and coneflowers Corina’s flowers represent a story of love and tradition. This beautiful story demonstrates the symbolism behind Mexican flower crowns and Corina’s self-discovery as she takes part in her family’s tradition.
Q. SE. K3205cr

Liu-Trujillo, Robert
Jugo Fresco. 2023. Picture Book.
Follow Art and his father as they journey around the neighborhood in the search for fresh ingredients to help make a juice that can heal his father from a cold. Art and his father learn by the end of the book that the secret and most important ingredient to any fresh juice is “community” alongside carrots, cayenne, and collards. Robert Liu-Trujillo brings a warmth and vitality to Jugo Fresco and emphasizes the importance of community through the celebration of mixed families.

SE. L7408fr: SP
Menendez, Juliet
Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers. 2021. Biography.
In this collection of short biographies discover 40 influential Latin women from all over Latin America and the United States. Juliet Menendez reveals the paths these influential women took to get to where they are today. Through vibrant hand-painted illustrations Menendez celebrates these famous women and the triumphs they have achieved in their lives. The book features a variety of women across all disciplines from artists and scientists, to activists. You can expect any reader to feel encouraged to follow their dreams.
S.920.72 M5245la

Norman, Lissette
Plátanos go with Everything. 2023. Picture Book.
Platanos go with Everything by award-winning poet Lissette Norman is a lighthearted dedication to plátanos the star of Dominican cuisine. In this story Yesenia’s favorite food is plátanos. Plátanos can be sweet and sugary, or they can be savory and salty. Plátanos are a part of every dish in her Dominican household and through heartwarming language and warm colors you will find out why plátanos go with absolutely everything, especially with love!
Q. SE. N785pl

Otheguy, Emma
Martina Has Too Many Tías. 2003. Picture Book.
This charming and animated picture book reimagines the classic and beloved Caribbean folktale of “La Cucaracha Martina.” In this reimagining a quiet girl by the name of Martina is overwhelmed by her boisterous and loud family. Martina does not enjoy parties because parties are usually full of her tías wearing bold clothing and bellowing laughs; it can be too much for a quiet person like Martina. When Martina wanders into a pot of hot guava she is whisked away to a magical island where she can finally be in solitude and enjoy her peace. However, is she really at home? Follow Martina as she discovers what it truly means to feel at home and how introverted kids can still belong, even in a family full of extroverts.
SE. Ot3ma

Trejo, Jesus
Papa’s Magical Water-Jug Clock. 2023. Picture Book.
Papa’s Magical Water-Jug Clock focuses on little Jesus who is extremely excited to spend the day with his papa’s family business in landscaping. Little Jesus loves to ride in his Papa’s cool truck and see all the tools he gets to use during his workday. His Papa even lets him oversee the magical water jug which also acts as a clock! Papa tells little Jesus that once the water-jug is empty that signals the workday is over. With being entrusted with the magical water-jug Jesus wants to make sure that he executes his job to perfection. However, Jesus cannot help but give water away to all the thirsty animals he encounters such as the dog in the sweater, elderly cats, and a flock of peacocks. Before he knows it, he has given away all the water and the workday is not over, so Jesus begins to panic that he may be fired! Jesus begins to wonder if the magical water-jug is even all that magical. This mischievous tale of Jesus Trejo’s life lesson as a kid will be sure to warm your heart and have you giggling.
SE. T718pa