May is Latino Books Month!

Latino Books Month celebrates Latino authors and illustrators, books that highlight Latino culture and Latin American identity and promotes literacy amongst Latinos.

As an Afro- Latina, I’ve always gravitated towards stories that explore the complexities of being a second-generation child, stories that allow me to explore life outside of the U.S. and stories that resemble those passed down by my parents, aunts/uncles, and grandparents who have all come to the U.S. from a different place. Some of my favorite stories by Latino authors that have explored these types of narratives are: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho, to name a few.

Although I do my best to read stories by Latino authors or ones that explore Latino culture, I must admit that, as a kid, I didn’t read any books that spoke to my Latino heritage. They weren’t common or exposed in my schools or libraries. So I thought it’d be best to share some titles that are written by Latinos and/or explore our culture. Enjoy and pass them along!

For the younger kids:

Ugly Cat & Pablo by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Tom Knight – A humorous chapter book series about a not-so-attractive cat and his well-dressed mouse friend.

¡Más Cosas Que Dice Mi Abuela! by Ana Galan, illustrated by Pablo Pino – A grandmother teaches her grandchildren using traditional Spanish-language sayings. Writer’s note: I’ve read this story to my niece and nephew – it’s fun to read and helps expand their Spanish vocabulary.

Frida by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Ana Juan – An easy-to-read, picture book biography that explores the life of Frida Kahlo. (This is my description of this book because it really is!)

Arroz con leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America selected and illustrated by Lulu Delacre – A collection of traditional Latin-American songs and rhymes, in Spanish and English, with the music included.

For young adults:

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan – A sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. 

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano – Sonia Manzano plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving--and troubled. This is Sonia's own story rendered with an unforgettable narrative power. 

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older - Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes their first party.

If you want to explore more titles written by Latino authors or written about Latino culture/experiences, feel free to visit Scholastic’s Diverse Books catalog site.