Latino boys are at greatest risk when it comes to literacy achievement. How do we engage them and raise them to be avid readers? One way is through books that interest them or that reflect their reality. Below is a list of books for boys of all ages.
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by Pam Munoz Ryan
From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call. Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows.
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin
by Duncan Tonatiuh
The story of two cousins, one in America and one in Mexico, and how their daily lives are different yet similar. Charlie takes the subway to school; Carlitos rides his bike. Charlie plays in fallen leaves; Carlitos plays among the local cacti. Dear Primocovers the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of two very different childhoods, while also emphasizing how alike Charlie and Carlitos are at heart.
Diego: Bigger Than Life
by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s inspiring free verse and David Diaz’s vivid paintings capture the defining moments and emotions of Rivera’s tumultuous life, including his stormy relationship with artist Frida Kahlo and his passion for his art. Rivera’s energy, physique, love for women, and work were all “bigger than life.”
by Francisco Jiménez
During his college years, the very family solidarity that allowed Francisco to survive as a child is tested. Not only must he leave his family behind when he goes to Santa Clara University, but while Francisco is there, his father abandons the family and returns to Mexico. This is the story of how Francisco coped with poverty, with his guilt over leaving his family financially strapped, with his self-doubt about succeeding academically, and with separation.
Papa and Me
by Arthur Dorros
A young boy and his papa may speak both Spanish and English, but the most important language they speak is the language of love. In this beautiful bilingual picture book, Arthur Dorros portrays the close bond between father and son, with lush paintings by Rudy Gutierrez.
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan
by Margarita Engle
Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.
My Name is Gabito / Me llamo Gabito: The Life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez
by Monica Brown
Can you imagine a shipwrecked sailor living on air and seaweed for eight days? Can you imagine a trail of yellow butterflies fluttering their wings to songs of love? Once, there was a little boy named Gabito who could. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is perhaps one of the most brilliant writers of our time. He is a tremendous figure, enormously talented, and unabashedly admired. This is his story, lovingly told, for children to enjoy.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
by Kathleen Krull
Cesar Chavez is known as one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. When he led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. But Cesar wasn’t always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive.
Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that–maybe–he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.
The Pot That Juan Built
By Nancy Andrews-Goebel
Quezada creates stunning pots in the traditional style of the Casas Grandes people, including using human hair to make brushes and cow dung to feed the fire. This real-life story is written in the form of “The House That Jack Built,” and relays how Juan’s pioneering work has changed a poor village into a prosperous community of world-class artists.
First Day in Grapes
By L. King Perez
All year long, Chico’s family moves up and down the state of California to pick fruits and vegetables. Every September, Chico starts at a new school. Often, the other kids pick on him — maybe because he’s always new, or maybe because he speaks Spanish sometimes. But third grade promises to be different. He likes his teacher, and she recognizes his excellent abilities in math — he may even get to go to the math fair! When some fourth-grade bullies tease him, he surprises them with strengths of his own.
Spirits of the High Mesa
By Floyd Martinez
In this moving coming-of-age novel set in rural New Mexico, the young protagonist, Flavio, is torn between the seductiveness of progress and new technology and his loyalty to village traditions so steadfastly preserved by his grandfather, El Grande.
Baseball in April and Other Stories
By Gary Soto
The Mexican American author Gary Soto draws on his own experience of growing up in California’s Central Valley in this finely crafted collection of eleven short stories that reveal big themes in the small events of daily life. Crooked teeth, ponytailed girls, embarrassing grandfathers, imposter Barbies, annoying brothers, Little League tryouts, and karate lessons weave the colorful fabric of Soto’s world. The smart, tough, vulnerable kids in these stories are Latino, but their dreams and desires belong to all of us.
Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask
by Xavier Garza
In Xavier Garza’s bilingual kids’ book, young Carlitos attends his first lucha librematch in Mexico City. At ringside, Carlitos sees the famous luchador—the Man in the Silver Mask, a man whose eyes look terribly familiar. The masked wrestlereven smiles at Carlitos! He is mesmerized as the Man in the Silver Mask is pitted against the terrible forces of evil—los rudos, the bad guys of lucha libre. They make the audience boo and hiss! In the end, though, the Man in the Silver Mask triumphs and, in the process, gains a lifelong fan.
A Movie in My Pillow/Una pelicula en mi almohada
by Jorge Argueta
A young boy with two homelands and a delightful sense of wonder comes to life in Jorge Argueta’s first collection of poems for children. Young Jorgito lives in San Francisco’s Mission District, but he hasn’t forgotten his native El Salvador. He recalls the volcanoes, the tasty cornmeal pupusas, and his grandmother’s stories. As he changes from timid newcomer to seasoned city dweller, Jorgito’s memories and new adventures form a patchwork of dreams the movie in his pillow that is perfectly suited to his new bicultural identity.
The Gold Coin
By Alma Flor Ada
Juan has been a thief for many, many years. So many, in fact, that he can’t even remember what it’s like to be anything else.
When he tries to steal Doña Josefa’s gold, something strange begins to happen to Juan. His skin becomes tan instead of pale, his body straight instead of bent, and his mouth smiles instead of scowls. Juan also begins to remember things. He remembers eating good, home-cooked food, being among friends, and laughing.
When the opportunity arrives for him to take Doña Josefa’s gold, another strange thing happens. Juan realizes he can’t. Maybe he isn’t a thief anymore. Set against a Central American background, this is a story of love and faith in the human spirit.
by Francisco Jimenez
In his first year of school, Francisco understands little of what his teacher says. But he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk. He knows caterpillars turn into butterflies, but just how do they do it? To find out, he studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still can’t understand their meaning. Illustrated with paintings as deep and rich as the wings of a butterfly, this honest, unsentimental account of a schoolchild’s struggle to learn language reveals that our imaginations powerfully sustain us.
Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El rey del futbol
by Monica Brown
Turn the pages of this book to read the true life story of Pelé, King of Soccer, the first man in the history of the sport to score a thousand goals and become a living legend.
Calling the Doves/El canto de las palomas
By Juan Felipe Herrera
Now available in paperback, poet Juan Felipe Herrera s bilingual memoir paints a vivid picture of his migrant farmworker childhood. His rich, evocative prose re-creates the joy of eating under the open sky, celebrating at a fiesta with other farm families, and listening to his mother singing Mexican songs and his father calling the doves.
The Upside Down Boy/El nino de cabeza
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Fresh from the country, Juanito is bewildered by his new school. Everything he does feels upside down: he eats lunch when it’s recess and goes out to play when it’s time for lunch, and his tongue feels like a rock when he tries to speak English. But a sensitive teacher and his loving family help Juanito find his voice through poetry, art, and music.
Best Mariachi In The World:El mejor mariachi del mundo
by J. D. Smith
Everyone in Gustavo s family is in a mariachi band. Everyone except Gustavo, that is. They all play violins, trompetas and guitarrones. They all make wonderful music in restaurants and at wedding parties. Gustavo would love to join the band, but he can’t play any of the instruments. What’s a wannabe mariachi to do?