Latino Children’s Literature Celebrating the Holidays

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As your family launches itself into the holiday festivities, don’t forget to take time to read to your child. Just 15 minutes a day can have a huge impact on their literacy skills. You don’t have to read it all at once, either. You can break it up into 5 minute periods during the day.

And to help you incorporate holiday-themed books, here are a few of our favorite Latino children’s titles that are either written by or about Latinos.

The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola

Sister Angie has organized the celebration of Las Posadas for many years, in which the people of Santa Fe re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter on the night Jesus was born. This year’s performance promises to be very special. Sister Angie’s niece Lupe and Lupe’s husband, Roberto, are to play the parts of Mary and Joseph. But on the night of the celebration, a snowstorm hits and Lupe and Roberto’s car breaks down on their way into town. And to make matters worse, Sister Angie is home sick with the flu. It seems that only a miracle will be able to save Las Posadas.

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Beloved Newbery honor-winning author and Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas. His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colors of Mexico and its art, but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas and the hope of Lucida, who comes to see what makes a gift truly beautiful.

Merry Navidad!: Christmas Carols in Spanish and English/Villancicos en espanol e ingles by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy

In this warm and vibrant collection of traditional Spanish Christmas carols, or villancicos, noted authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy bring to life the holiday traditions of Latin America and Spain. The creative English adaptations by Rosalma Zubizarreta both capture the spirit of the originals and add a new dimension to the songs. And Spanish illustrator Viví Escrivá’s spirited illustrations are perfect backdrops for the lyrics, adding rich holiday flavor.

A Pinata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora

An award-winning author and a rising star artist have put a festive Latino twist on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” populating it with piñatas in place of partridges, plus burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando(singing moons), and much more, all displayed in the most vivid colors imaginable. In this version a little girl receives gifts from a secret amiga,whose identity is a sweet surprise at the book’s conclusion. There are things to find and count in Spanish on every page, with pronunciations provided right in the pictures and a glossary and music following the story. This joyous fiesta will warm even the coldest of hearts.

The Christmas Gift / El regalo de Navidad by Francisco Jimenez

With honesty and rare grace, award-winning author Francisco Jiménez shares his most poignant Christmas memory in this remarkable book. Illustrated with paintings full of strength and warmth, written in spare bilingual text, this simple story celebrates the true spirit of Christmas, and illuminates how children do indeed draw strength from the bonds of their families.

Arturo and the Navidad Birds by Anne Broyles

It’s time for Arturo and his Central American grandmother, Abue Rosa, to decorate their Christmas tree. Abue Rosa shares with him the family history of each ornament as it is hung. But what happens when Arturo plays with-and breaks-a glass bird? Young readers will find out in this touching, bilingual picture book.

Feliz Navidad: Two Stories Celebrating Christmas by Jose Feliciano

Set to the lyrics of Jose Feliciano’s song “Feliz Navidad” and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Diaz, this unique flip book features two different, yet traditional, Christmas celebrations!

When Christmas Feels Like Home by Gretchen Griffith

After moving from a small village in Mexico to a town in the United States, Eduardo is sure it will never feel quite like home. The other children don’t speak his language and they do not play fútbol. His family promises him that he will feel right at home by the time Christmas comes along, when “your words float like clouds from your mouth” and “trees will ride on cars.” With whimsical imagery and a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary, Gretchen Griffith takes readers on a multicultural journey with Eduardo who discovers the United States is not so different from Latin America and home is wherever family is.

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