The 2015 Tomás Rivera Awards

The 2015 Tomás Rivera Award Winners

The 2015 Tomás Rivera Award Winners

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The 2015 Tomás Rivera Award winners have been announced! Established in 1995, the award honors authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican America experience. Past winners include distinguished authors such as Gary Soto, Carmen Lomas Garza, Francisco Jiménez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Rudolfo Anaya, to name a few.

This year’s winners are:

For Older Readers

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Gabi A Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero

For Younger Readers

Separate Is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh

The 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners

2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners

2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners

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Congratulations to the 2015 Pura Belpré Award Winners! The winners were announced this morning and we’ve listed them below. We’re excited to discover a couple of new titles and to see several of our own picks from last year’s Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature list.

Pura Belpré Author Award
Honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

I Lived on Butterfly Hill
written by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White


Pura Belpré Author Honor Book

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón


Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Honors a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Viva Frida

Viva Frida
Written & illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Books

Little Roja Riding Hood

Little Roja Riding Hood
illustrated by Susan Guevara
written by Susan Middleton Elya

Green Is A Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper
illustrated by John Parra
written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Separate Is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh

L4LL Read for the Holidays on Google Play & Giveaway!


We believe that the love and practice of reading can unlock unlimited doors of opportunity for education and life success. So it’s no surprise that we recommend books–lots of them–as holiday gifts as part of our month-long book-focused event L4LL Read for the Holidays. Learn more about the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

We would like to highlight a couple of options: purchasing the children’s and adult books and reading kits (book and learning worksheets) directly from our shop not only makes for a unique gift. But you’ll stand a little taller knowing a portion of your purchase goes to support our literacy programs that instill the love and practice of reading such as the L4LL Latino Children Summer Reading Program.

We are also thrilled to highlight these books by Latino authors and illustrators available on Google Play:

Holiday Themed Children’s Books on Google Play


Non-Holiday Themed Children’s Books on Google Play

The Day It Snowed Tortillas/El día que nevó tortilla: Folk Tales Retold, Joe Hayes

Butterflies on Carmen Street/Mariposas en la calle Carmen, Monica Brown

Esperando a Papá, René Colato Laínez

Growing up with Tamales/Los tamales de Ana, Gwendolyn Zepeda

Cochinito Fugitivo, James Luna


Books by Latino Authors for Adults on Google Play

Latino Americans: a 500 Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation, Ray Suarez

Love, Alma, Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel M. Zubizareta

Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood & Fierce Friendships, Las Comadres Anthology

I Am My Father’s Daughter: Living a Life Without Secrets, María Elena Salinas (English) (Spanish)

Atravesando Fronteras: Un Periodista en Busca de Su Lugar en el Mundo, Jorge Ramos (Spanish) (English)

Latin American Great Books on Google Play

Gabriel García Márquez: More than 2 dozen titles in English and Spanish by the late Nobel laureate

Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges

Pantallas de Plata, Carlos Fuentes

The Giveaway

L4LL is giving away a Chromebook to 2 lucky L4LL followers so you can download eBooks or use it for school work.

Enter to win by Sunday, December 21st. The winners will be selected & notified on the 22nd for delivery by January 6th, Día de los Reyes.

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below.

¡Buena suerte!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open Letter to The New York Times: Latino Children’s Authors & Illustrators Have Earned a Place on the Year-end List


By: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. and Monica Olivera, L4LL Co-founders

At the end of the year, “tastemakers” such as The New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), and the Washington Post publish their “best of” lists. Unlike previous years when their selections featured few, if any Hispanic authors, we were thrilled to see more titles, perhaps influenced by our L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 published weeks earlier (which you can download and print by clicking here). Our annual “Best of the Best” children’s literature titles written by or about Latinos include award-winning authors such as Duncan Tonatiuh and publishers ranging from household name New York presses to community-focused, independent companies. NBC picked up our list and shared it with their readers.

Unfortunately, The New York Times released their list of this year’s Notable Children’s Books and once more, it does not feature a single U.S. Latino author or illustrator or a book featuring a Hispanic main character.

This glaring absence is rooted not in Hispanic authors’ lack of talent. Rather, their exclusion reflects the New York Time’s significant professional blind spots and institutional flaws which in 2014 continues to define diversity as black and white, and in a twist this year, British and Asian-Canadian. For the L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014, we featured seven titles. In the face of data that proves the so-called browning of America due to the influx and mixing between different races and ethnicities, including Latinos, it is high time that The New York Times remove its blinders to more fully represent America’s literary talent in its Best of Lists.

It is clear that this list is incomplete. Yet The New York Time’s judgement has a disproportional social impact: which authors are published and by whom? This, in turn, affects the books that libraries, schools, and bookstores order and children read.

As our country’s demographics quickly change, the L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 list sparks an important conversation rooted in our common American values, empathy, and love of reading where Latino students see themselves reflected in literature and non-Hispanic kids learn about the experiences of a growing number of their peers in well-written stories that touch on universal themes.

The New York Times and other tastemakers becoming more inclusive and accurate is our secondary objective. Our list is meant to be a resource for families, libraries, and schools hungry for guidance on great stories that more accurately represent the American experience. May the New York Times be reminded–once more–of one of its core missions–a more accurate representation and reflection of our country.

Click here to hear an NPR interview and view the Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013 list.

Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014

Remarkable-Latino-Childrens-Lit-2014This post contains affiliate links.

Since the close of our 2014 Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program, we’ve been very busy behind the scenes expanding it to be used year round and working on big changes to next summer’s program. In between all of this, we spend a lot of time exploring both new and old titles.

As we head into the holidays and the end of the year, we want to share our annual Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature selection of exemplary books written by or about Latinos. We sincerely hope that we’ll be seeing some Latino children’s literature titles like these in the New York Times’ annual list of Notable Children’s Books, NPR’s Best Books of 2014, and other national lists.

You can download and print a copy of our list here.  We know that there are other fantastic stories that have been published this year. As always, we’d love to hear from you. What titles would you add to our list? Share them in the comments below.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera. Illustrated by Raúl Colón. (Dial, $19.99) A stunning collection of short biographical essays on 20 Hispanics who have contributed to our nation’s – and world’s – history.

Dalias Wondrous Hair

Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacámara. (Piñata Books, $17.95) Children will be swept away into this vibrant tale about a young girl’s magical hair! Rich with Cuban culture, this book includes a section in the back listing native Cuban plants and animals.


Abuelo by Arthur Dorros. Illustrated by Raúl Colón. (HarperCollins, $17.99) A touching, bilingual tale about the special bond between a child and his grandfather in this follow up book to Dorros’ Abuela.

Green is a Chile Pepper

Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by John Parra. (Chronicle Books, $16.99) This lively rhyming picture book introduces children to the world of colors through images frequently associated with Latino culture.

Separate is Never Equal

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Harry N. Abrams, $18.95) Teach your child about the role Sylvia Mendez and her family played in school equality in California nearly 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education.

How Chile Came to New Mexico

How Chile Came to New Mexico written by Rudolfo Anaya. Illustrated by Otero Nicolas. (Rio Grande Books, $24.95) A beautifully written story that highlights New Mexico’s rich multicultural history.

Dale, Dale, Dale
Dale, Dale, Dale: A Fiesta of Numbers written by René Saldaña. Illustrated by Carolyn Dee Flores (Piñata Books, $17.95) A bilingual counting book about a child who imagines all the fun he’s going to have as he prepares for his birthday party.

Literacy Craft Tutorial: Poetry-Inspired Felt Craft

Poem-Inspired Felt Craft

Poem-Inspired Felt Craft

The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Denise Cortes who publishes the site,

As a homeschooling mother, I’ve had the privilege of teaching six children how to read. Phonics, flash cards, picture books, audio tracks, reading apps–you name it, we used it. Teaching my kids to read wasn’t always an easy task. There were moments when I grew weary, and wondered when they would finally “get the code.” Some of my children learned quickly and were on their way to reading chapter books at a young age. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a two children who didn’t learn to read until they were well past the “acceptable” reading age.

Instead of worrying and putting unnecessary stress on my challenged readers, I got creative. One of the ways I encouraged confidence in their reading skills was through poetry and enrichment projects. For us, this meant simple craft projects. My daughter memorized several poems. And along the way, we created fun enrichment activities tailored to each poem, such as this felt craft pictured above. It was inspired by the following poem – one of our favorites.

“The Caterpillar” by Christina Rosetti

Brown and furry
caterpillar in a hurry
take your walk
to the shady leaf or stalk.
May no toad spy you,
may the little birds pass by you.
Spin and die,
to live again a butterfly.

Let’s get crafting!


What you’ll need to make this fun craft:

  • felt squares (several colors)
  • 9×12 felt square for background
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • needle and thread

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

I decided to stick with more natural colors, since the caterpillar is “brown and furry.” Reserve one of the 9 x 12 felt squares as the background for the caterpillar. Begin cutting the felt into the caterpillar shapes, reserving 20 pieces for the caterpillar body, one piece for the head, two eyes, two for the inner eyes, one round nose, two antennae, four legs, a leaf, leaf spine and stem for a total of 35 felt pieces. Of course, if you want to make your caterpillar smaller, make adjustments accordingly.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

After the shapes are cut, lay them out and decide on the overall design.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

We decided we wanted the caterpillar on a “shady leaf.”

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

Use a hot glue gun to glue the felt pieces down. Be sure to help your child when using the glue gun. As a safer alternative, use fabric glue. For a fun accent, let your child use needle and thread around their caterpillar design.

Caterpillar Poem Felt Craft

This poem-inspired craft is a great way to enrich your child’s reading experience through hands-on learning.


denise-cortesDenise Cortes is a writer/blogger and an artist when she isn’t tending to her family and teaching art. Denise is the content creator at, a blog about a Latina mom raising six kids and living a creative life. A native of Southern California, Denise has been blogging since 2006, when her husband suggested she continue her life-long practice of journal writing about life and family. Since then, she’s been sharing fun DIY craft projects, Latino culture, creating art on TOMS shoes and writing heartfelt parenting stories about her children, ages 8 to 16. Denise is also a regular contributor at BabyCenter and You can also follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


Latino Children’s Literature on Google Play

20 Latino Books for Kids on Google Play

With more and more families accessing literature on tech devices such as tablets, eReaders, and even smartphones, we decided now was a great time to share some Latino eBooks for kids. Our friends and underwriters at Google have a growing collection of Latino children’s literature in eBook format available for download via the Google Play store. We hope you enjoy these titles as much as we do and continue to explore their online store for additional titles. The more you purchase these types of books, the more you show them that these titles are in demand and the more eBooks written by and about Latinos they’ll offer!

Video of the Week: Guadalupe Rivera Marín

Video of the Week: Art

Video of the Week: Art

*This post contains affiliates links.

This week’s DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is ART. One of the Hispanic artists explored in our printables is Diego Rivera. While there are many wonderful books written about the artist, we’ve chosen to share this short video of his daughter Guadalupe Rivera Marín talking about her bilingual picture book My Papa Diego and Me / Mi papá Diego y yoIn it she shares personal memories of her father.

Literacy Craft Tutorial: ‘Frida’ Shrink Plastic Bookmark

'Frida' Shrink Plastic Bookmark


This week, the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp theme is ART. The following literacy craft tutorial is a guest post by Kathy Cano-Murillo who publishes the site,


Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is always a source of inspiration. Here’s a way to add her spirit to your books with the help of shrink plastic and markers.


  • Frosted shrink plastic (found at the craft store)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • Thin black permanent marker
  • Assorted colored markers
  • Embossing gun or toaster oven


DIY Frida Bookmark Steps 1-4

  1. Print out an image of Frida, keeping in mind that it will shrink 60%. I started with a piece of shrink plastic that was about 3” x 7” long.

  2. Frosted side up, set the shrink plastic on top of the image. Use a pencil to draw the image, tracing over her face, eyes, hair, neck and nose.

  3. Now go over the pencil marks with the black liner pen, this is your chance to fix any mistakes in the tracing process. Erase any pencil lines.

DIY Frida Bookmark Steps 4-7

  1. Use the colored markers to fill in all the areas. Bring her to life with color!

  2. Cut out around the shape and punch a hole at the top.

  3. Have an adult do this part: On a silicone mat, run the heat gun over the plastic until it curls and flattens out. You can also use a toaster oven and heat according to the shrink plastic package directions.

  4. Add a ribbon through the top of the hole. You’re done!
    'Frida' Shrink Plastic Bookmark

10 Latino Books for Teens

10 Latino Books for Teens

I first discovered Latino literature when I was a teenager in high school taking a multicultural lit class. The experience was life changing for me. Since then so many more books by and about Latinos have been written and published for young adults. Here are just a few of our favorite Latino literature titles for teens. What titles would you add to our list?

Psst! Any of these would be ideal reads for our YA Challenge!

(All the links below are affiliate links. When you click on one and make a purchase, we receive a small commission, which helps with the running of this website.)

My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults
by Pat Mora

a major selection of new and previously published poems chosen by Pat Mora herself with young-adult readers in mind. Using the cactus plant as her guiding metaphor for our existence, she presents more than sixty poems grouped variously into “Blooms,” “Thorns,” and “Roots.” Each section opens with a graceful line drawing from artist Anthony Accardo, and the whole is prefaced by a whimsical and intimate introduction, “Dear Fellow Writter.”

Names on a Map: A Novel
by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The Espejo family of El Paso, Texas, is like so many others in America in 1967, trying to make sense of a rapidly escalating war they feel does not concern them. But when the eldest son, Gustavo, a complex and errant rebel, receives a certified letter ordering him to report to basic training, he chooses to flee instead to Mexico. Retreating back to the land of his grandfather—a foreign country to which he is no longer culturally connected—Gustavo sets into motion a series of events that will have catastrophic consequences on the fragile bonds holding the family together.

My Name is Cool: 18 Stories from a Cuban-Irish-American Storyteller
by Antonio Sacre

Born in Boston to a Cuban father and an Irish-American mother, Antonio Sacre is one of the fewleprecanos on the national speaking circuit. Using his own personal history and telling the stories that audiences across the nation have found so captivating and wonderful, this  award-winning storyteller and author  weaves the Spanish language, Cuban and Mexican customs, and Irish humor into an unforgettable book of humor, inspiration, tradition, and family.

by Skila Brown

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
by Meg Medina

Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind.

Under the Mesquite
by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall

Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse.

When Lupita learns Mami has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don’t always understand, become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami’s life.

While her father cares for Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her seven younger siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she takes refuge in the shade of a mesquite tree, where she escapes the chaos at home to write. Forced to face her limitations in the midst of overwhelming changes and losses, Lupita rediscovers her voice and finds healing in the power of words.

Esperanza Rising
by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But 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. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
by Francisco Jiménez

“The Circuit,” the story of young Panchito and his trumpet, is one of the most widely anthologized stories in Chicano literature. At long last, Jimenez offers more about the wise, sensitive little boy who has grown into a role model for subsequent generations of immigrants.

These independent but intertwined stories follow the family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots–and back agai–over a number of years. As it moves from one labor camp to the next, the little family of four grows into ten. Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the family endures.

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.

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal 
by Margarita Engle

One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.

From the young “silver people” whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.