Those who grow up as part of two (or more!) cultures often get the best of both worlds, but also have to deal with challenging experiences. These books explore in fact, fiction, and poetry, the joys and sorrows of children who are living with one foot in the Latin world and the other foot somewhere else.
You can borrow these books from your local library or buy them wherever you shop online.
Reading Recommendations for Kids Ages 0-12
For 0-6-Year Olds
Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English
By Alma Flor Ada, illustrations by Simón Silva
Age Level: 0-3
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, the natural world, and the emotional impact on the lives of farm workers.
– Review edited from Amazon
Sweet Dreams (My Family/Mi Familia series)
By Pat Mora, illustrated by Maribel Suarez
Age Level: 3-6
It’s bedtime, and Grandma has come to tuck everyone in. One by one, she kisses her grandchildren good-night in a loving refrain that reminds them of all the other friends, critters included, who are closing their eyes and falling asleep. The soothing text and gentle drawings make this the perfect way to end a busy day. Bilingual text.
– Review edited from Criticas
Written and illustrated by Leyla Torres
Age Level: 3-6
Liliana’s grandmother Mima lives up the street, does yoga exercises, and likes crossword puzzles. Liliana’s other grandmother, Mama Gabina, lives in South America, enjoys gardening, and likes to dance around the house. The meals they cook are very different, the stories they tell are different, but one thing about them is the same: they both love their granddaughter. And Liliana adores them. Leyla Torres’s watercolors show all the warmth and homeyness that are intrinsic in special family relationships.
– Reader review
For 6-9-Year Olds
My Diary from Here to There
By Amanda Irma Pérez, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Age Level: 6-9
While the rest of the family proclaims excitement at their imminent move (“They have escalators to ride!” says one of her five brothers), Amada confides her fears to her journal: “Am I the only one who is scared of leaving our home, our beautiful country, and all the people we might never see again?” Amada Irma Pérez shares the story of her journey to the U.S. as a young girl and Maya Christina Gonzalez’s fluid illustrations spill color across the page. Bilingual text.
– Review edited from Publisher’s Weekly
The Upside Down Boy
By Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Elizabeth Gomez
Age Level: 7-8
“The Upside Down Boy” is the sequel to “Calling the Doves” and award-winning poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time. The new school bewilders Juanito, and he misses the warmth of country life. Everything he does feels upside down… But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him to find his voice and make a place for himself in this new world through poetry, art, and music.
– Review edited from barnesandnoble.com
By Natasha Wing, illustrated by Robert Casilla
Age Level: 5-8
When Pablo must bring something to share for his school’s International Day, he considers several items from his family’s bakery. But his mother’s Mexican pan dulce, empanadas, and chango bars don’t do the trick. His father’s bagels and challah bread are appealing, but not quite right either. Then the boy helps to make the family specialty, Jalapeño Bagels, joint creation from the cultures of both parents, and decides that it is the perfect contribution: “…a mixture of both of you. Just like me.”
— Review edited from School Library Journal
For 9-12-Year Olds
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
By Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Age Level: 9-12
This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics. Gorgeous portraits by Raúl Colón complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.
– Review edited from School Library Journal
Yes! We are Latinos
By Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by David Diaz
Age Level: 9-12
Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan, and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino. Thirteen young Latinos and Latinas living in America are introduced in this book celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino experience in the United States through free-verse fictional narratives.
– Review edited from Kirkus Review
Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh
By Uma Krishnaswami
Age Level: 9-12
Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls’ League to start a girls’ softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria’s parents – Papi from India and Mama from Mexico – can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land.
– Review edited from goodreads.com
Check out these web sites for bilingual books, music, and apps: