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Hispanic and Latino Heritage in Books for Children and Teens: 12 Resources

Not Just for Hispanic Heritage Month

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These recommended reading lists, award-winning books, and articles feature books for children and teens that focus on Hispanic and Latino heritage and other themes. These books are too good to be limited to Hispanic Heritage Month. These children's and young adult (YA) books should be read and enjoyed year round.

1. The Pura Belpré Award

Cover art of The Storyteller's Candle children's bilingual picture book about Pura Belpre
Children's Book Press

The Pura Belpré Award is co-sponsored by the ALSC, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA Affiliate. According to the ALA, it "is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth" The site includes an annotated list of current winners and a bibliography of past winners. For more about the librarian for whom the award is named, see my review of The Storyteller's Candle.

2. Américas Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Download the 2012 Americas Award PDF, which includes information about the Award and the winners. Sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), the Américas Book Award recognizes "U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States."

3. Hispanic Heritage in Children's and Young Adult Books

This article from School Library Journal contains recommended books for elementary, middle and high school students. It includes a summary of each book and the recommended grade levels. The reading list includes fiction and nonfiction. As the article states, "The books in this bibliography go some distance toward delineating, even if indirectly, the breadth of culture and experience included in what it means to be Hispanic."

4. Hispanic Heritage Booklist for PreK - Eighth Grade

This reading list from the publisher Scholastic includes an annotated list of books for grades PreK–2, grades 3-5, and grades 6-8. Some of the books listed include a link to cover art and a detailed description and/or a link to a biography of such authors as Juan Felipe Herrera and Pam Munoz Ryan.

5. Recommended Books for Hispanic Heritage Month

The New York Public Library's briefly annotated reading list of recommended books includes cover art. The list is divided into three categories: Poetry and Song, Stories for Older Readers, and Stories for Younger Readers. Some of the books are in both English and Spanish. The books include fiction and nonfiction.

6. Sampler of Latino Children's and YA Authors and Illustrators

This sampler comes from Mexican American children's book author and poet Pat Mora's Web site. Mora provides two lists and some interesting statistics. There is a long list of children's Latino authors and illustrators, followed by a list of Latino young adult authors. Many of the names on both lists are linked to the author or illustrator's website.

7. Hispanic Heritage Booklist

This recommended reading list of children's books by Hispanic and Latin American children's authors comes from Colorín Colorado, which describes itself as "a free web-based, bilingual service that provides information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners." The list includes cover art and a description of each book, including the age level and reading level. The list includes books for children between the ages of three and 12.

8. Seattle Picks: Latino Books for Kids

This list from the Seattle Public Library includes a brief summary of each of the recommended books. The Latino list includes children's fiction and nonfiction. A few of the books are bilingual. While there is cover art and the title, author and publication date are listed, you have to click on each title for a brief description of the book.

9. Latino Folktales

This reading list of Latino folktales from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction does not include cover art, but it does include a brief description of each book and suggested grade levels.

10. Powerful Hispanic and Latin-American Images Revealed in Picture Books

This bibliography, with an introduction, was compiled by educators Kay E. Vandergrift and Denise Agosto. Many of the children's picture books are award winners, and if the book has received Pura Belpré or Américas honors, that is noted. While this is an excellent list, it does not contain any books published after 2002, and the bulk of the books are from the 1990s.

11. Teen Latino Titles

This list of books for teens comes from REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. The list includes cover art, a summary of the story, themes, the age it is recommended for and the culture featured. Cultures include: Puerto Rican, Mexican American, Cuban, Jews in Argentina, Argentine American and Chilean, among others.

12. The Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

The Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award was established by Texas State University College of Education.  According to the Award Web site, the Award was created "to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. The award was established in 1995 and was named in honor of Dr. Tomas Rivera, a distinguished alumnus of Texas State University." The site provides information about the award and the winners and their children's books.

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