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My whole mission in life is to help people read books en español to/with their kids year-round. Buuuut I can’t deny that if there was ever an ideal time to read in Spanish… it would be Hispanic Heritage Month. Here in the U.S. we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month every year from September 15th to October 15th, and for our Mexican/Ecuadorian/American family it’s a chance to be super intentional about how we are celebrating latinidad with our kids.
But you don’t have to be Hispanic or Latinx/e to appreciate the incredible contributions of Latin@s! And reading these Spanish books for Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way to start.
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Alma has a super long name: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. “It never fits,” she grumbles to her Papi. And that’s the start of Alma’s search for her identity, as her father guides her through the family history that inspired such a long name. The artwork in this book is so beautiful.
by Yuyi Morales
This book tells the story of a mother and son who cross a bridge and become immigrants. They walk, a little lost, through this strange new land until they come to a marvelous place: The library! From the vibrant, mixed media artwork to the way the story celebrates books and the gifts immigrants bring, there’s so much to love.
by Areli Morales, illustrated by Luisa Uribe
When Areli was in kindergarten, she joined her mamá, papá, and her brother Alex, who had moved from Mexico to New York to make a better life for their family. Things were very different in New York, and while Areli slowly became a New Yorker, she was still a girl living in two worlds as she waited to become an American Citizen (spoiler alert: she did!). In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story.
by Terry Catasús Jennings, illustrated by Raúl Colón
This is another phenomenal immigration story! This semi-autobiographical story narrates how Esperanza and her family bought a little house, una casita, when they immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. It turns out that even the smallest houses can be a place to build community and love.
by Tania de Regil
At Abuela’s house, mornings begin with sugared bread, and the breeze is sweet like jasmine. Julia is staying there without her parents for the first time, but even the fiercest homesickness is cured by Abuela’s magnificent hot chocolate (and by Abuela’s special cuddles, of course). This wistful, poetic story about a girl and her grandmother is a sweet read.
by Naibe Reynoso, illustrated by Jone Leal
This book is technically a bilingual book, but I thought it was a great addition to the list! Featuring 11 amazing Latinas who excelled in various fields, the book is written in verse (in both English and Spanish) and is a great addition to any library featuring Spanish books for Hispanic Heritage Month.
by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and warm brown skin. Her favorite lunch is peanut butter and jelly burritos. She may not make sense to other people, but to Marisol (and all of us other multicultural mashups), these seemingly mismatched things go together perfectly.
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Young Zonia’s home in the Amazon is peaceful and full of wildlife. Every morning she goes to visit and play with her animal friends in the rainforest. But one day, Zonia sees something frightening: the forest needs her help. And not just her help! This is such a beautiful and important story that encourages compassion and activism.
by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Most of the kids in Lola’s class are “from somewhere else.” When their teacher assigns them a project to draw a picture of the place where their families immigrated from, Lola is excited– until she realizes she doesn’t remember The Island, because she left when she was just a baby. So she draws on the memories of family and friends to discover the place where she’s from. This is a beautiful and sensitive story of culture, identity and belonging.
by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra
This book presents the life of the iconic Frida Kahlo through the kid-friendly lens of her animal friends. The text makes frequent comparisons between the featured animals and little Frida, that free-spirited artist. This isn’t the first picture book about Frida and won’t be the last, but the lively, folk-art style illustrations really make it special.
by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim
Anybody who has been asked “Where are you REALLY from?” knows that the question gets pretty tedious after a while. Frustrated after having been asked that question one too many times, a little girl asks her Abuelo. Drawing on the author’s experiences as an Argentinian-American raising kids with her Puerto Rican husband, this story explores themes of heritage, recognition, and belonging.
And there you have it! I hope you pick up two or three (or all) of these titles to read not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, but all year long!
Vanessa Nielsen Molina
Vanessa is an entrepreneur, educator, and mamá of four, who’s passionate about helping other parents experience the joy of raising bilingual children. Follow her journey and access more resources at BilingualBookworm.com.