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.

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.

The L4LL 2014 Summer Reading Lists

2014 L4LL Summer Reading Lists

2014 L4LL Summer Reading Lists

One of the most popular features of our summer reading program is our annual Summer Reading Lists. These thoughtfully curated lists highlight titles by Latino authors (and illustrators) written to reflect the Latino experience through its diverse culture, traditions, and people. Each summer we share three lists for different age groups:

  • Newborn to 4 Years Old – Simple, colorful books in English and Spanish for parents to read to their children 4 years old and younger.
  • 4 to 8 Years – Picture books in English and Spanish, including a section dedicated to biographies of famous (and not-so-famous) Latinos
  •  9 to Young Adult –  Latino literature titles for tweens and teens in English and Spanish.

Our lists introduce families to both recently released titles and other fabulous books that have been around for several years.

You can access these reading lists by logging into your account (under the “Members” tab above) and then clicking on the “Freemium Downloads” tab in your account page. You must be a Freemium or Premium subscriber to download these lists. And for your convenience they are available in color or black-and-white copies.

SRP Bookstore

Need help finding the books on our list?

Last year, we had a lot of participants asking where they could find the books on our lists. Some bookstores carry Latino children’s literature, and you can sometimes find them on the publishers’ websites. To make it easier for everyone, though, we’ve gone ahead and put all of the titles together in our Summer Reading Bookstore, where they are grouped according to the reading list. You’ll also find Kindle versions of the titles that are available in that digital format. Powered by Amazon, L4LL receives a small portion of any purchases made from our bookstore, which helps us continue our work for Latino literacy.

Happy reading!


On NPR: Latino Children’s Lit to Top Lists

By: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Every year my co-founder Monica Olivera awaits The New York Times Notable Children’s Literature List with a mixture of hopefulness and trepidation. While excited to learn about exemplary new titles in children’s lit by mainstream authors, she also hopes to see titles in a genre to which she and her children can relate: Latino children’s literature. Wearing two hats as homeschooling educator and Mami, she culls this list for book recommendations. But this year, once again, she was disappointed as it did not include a single book by a Latino children’s author, illustrator, or featuring an Hispanic character. Her disappointment soon turned to action. Deeming this unacceptable, Monica first compiled her own list of Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013, and then publicly pointed out that in the last 10 years, only one book by a Hispanic has made the cut in the NYT list, as she writes in her NBC Latino Op-ed.

Why are these writers overlooked? They have been publishing for decades, supported by small, independent publishers since at least the 1980s. These authors and illustrators have received numerous recognitions such as the Pura Belpré Award supported by the American Library Association or the Texas State University’s Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book award. As I note in L4LL Read for the Holidays: Two Writers on Why Latino Authors Should Top New York Times Lists which includes a Google Hangout on Air with writers Duncan Tonatiuh and Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, Hispanic authors’ work received the stamp of approval from the Library of Congress in the form of an invitation to present at the 2013 National Book Festival.

This exclusion is due to out of touch mainstream editors, book reviewers, and publishers who rarely venture outside their comfort zone to the world outside their front door into a more diverse and mixed America which includes 52 million Latinos.

The continued blinders on these gatekeepers have serious trickle-down repercussions: first, publishers have little incentives to take chances on “Unusual Suspects” and market to new audiences. Second, most bookstores, libraries, and schools don’t stock bookshelves and curricula with these new voices because they can’t find them in these go-to resources lists.

Third, this list’s exclusion of 17% of our population is not just a disservice to the fastest growing segment of our population, but to the teachers who are trying to make learning accessible to these students. Fourth, it hurts children from all backgrounds, including those who go to school with Hispanic kids. Seeing experiences and stories different from theirs opens up vistas and creates empathy and compassion for the world–not exclusively as they live it, but as it exists around them.

We raise our voices to school the New York Times Book Reviews and others on the richness and quality of an existing body of literature. But we also insist that readers of Latino children’s literature turn their demographic numbers into the economic might necessary to demand more representative “lists”– support our authors and their small, independent presses with purchases, leaving reviews, and placing orders at the library. Even a fraction of Hispanics “voting” with their pocketbooks and tweets numbers millions.

Numbers talk. And the mainstream media and publishers are sure to listen, resulting in a more representative view of our country and literature.

We discuss this topic on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin with guest host Celeste Headlee leading the discussion on December 9, 2013. Click below to listen:

HHM: Festival of Books Reading Lists for Adults and Children

Since we are, after all, strong supporters of Latino literature and our HHM: Festival of Books is centered around them, we are so happy to share with you all two great reading lists that focus on biographies and autobiographies of influential Hispanics. We chose some that have been recently released, and some that are older. We give special thanks to author Carmen Amato for her suggestions, too.

It was so hard to narrow our lists down to no more than 15 titles. But know that we do have additional books we’ll be sharing her over the course of the next four weeks.

The first reading list is for kids and features fantastic titles to biographical picture books for children ages 4 and up. From music great Tito Puente to sports legend Roberto Clemente, your child will enjoy all of these exceptional stories.

The second reading list for adults is divided into seven categories: Public Service & Activists, Musicians, Athletes, Political/Historical Figures, Journalists, Artists & Actors, and Anthologies. Four of these books will be featured this month as part of our Weekend Book Club, and we’ll share more information about that soon.

Both reading lists are full color for those who like to add a decorative touch to your refrigerator door, or office cork board. But this time, we’ve kept budgets in mind, so for those of you who would like to save your color ink, you’ll find a black-and-white version available, too!

You can download both lists for free here.

Cuba Libre: Understanding Cuba in 12 Books

Cuba is a place of tumultuous history, faded glory, and fields of cane. Many Latino families draw strength from their Cuban roots while at the same time struggle to make sense of has what happened in the years since the Cuban Revolution and rise of Fidel Castro.

No one book explains all, but both fiction and non-fiction can lead us to a better understanding of this troubled, but still magical place, and even give a glimpse of what may be in store for Cuba’s future.


Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith
The Arkady Renko series sends the Moscow-based detective to Cuba several years after the break with Russia in order to bring home the body of a Russian diplomat. But nothing is easy in Fidel’s Cuba and Arkady finds himself not only investigating the death but becoming embroiled in local political unrest. A powerful, haunting thriller.

The Mares of Lenin Park by Agustin D. Martinez
The Mares of Lenin Park address many themes; Cuban life, the Russia-Cuba relationship, drug culture, and coming-of-age issues as seen through the eyes of a young teen. The book recently won the Prize Americana. Author Martinez talked to L4LL readers last week. Read the interview here.

Cuba by Stephen Coonts
Jake Grafton, now an admiral, is the main character in many of Coonts’s books. In a bit of an homage to the Cuban Missile Crisis, a power struggle in Cuba leads to a powerful new weapon being trained on the US. Grafton must vault into the cockpit of a new type of aircraft to save the day. A blockbuster, just like all the Grafton books, and for good reason.


Take Me With You by Carlos Frías
Florida journalist Frias goes to Cuba for the first time as a reporter and discovers the land of his parents for the first time. A compelling and beautifully written homage to both his family and to his roots in Cuba.

Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire
This story of a boyhood in Havana as the revolution encroaches is full of disparate personalities, mystical dreams, and impending doom. Eire will ultimately be sent to the US as Cuba falls to Castro as one of the children airlifted without their parents to Miami. The New Yorker called the author’s style as “urgent and so vividly personal.”

Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today by Yoani Sanchez
The amazon description says it all: “She’s been kidnapped and beaten, lives under surveillance, and can only get online—in disguise—at tourist hotspots. She’s a blogger, she’s a Cuban, and she’s a worldwide sensation. Yoani Sánchez is an unusual dissident: no street protests, no attacks on big politicos, no calls for revolution. Rather, she produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime: the chronic hunger and the difficulty of shopping; the art of repairing ancient appliances; and the struggles of living under a propaganda machine that pushes deep into public and private life.”


Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba by Tom Gjelten
NPR correspondent Gjelten follows the story of the Bacardi family’s rum empire and how it has been entwined with Cuba’s fate over the past 150 years. A different angle from which to view history and very entertaining. Salud!

Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert F. Kennedy and Arthur Meier Schlesinger
Perhaps the definitive account of the Cuban Missile Crisis by the late RFK, a major player in the event.

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Lost it to the Revolution by T. J. English
The rumors have always run rife about the Mob’s links to pre-Revolution Cuba and English aims to write the definitive account of what really happened in all its “sexy, decadent, ugly glory.”

Without Fidel by Ann Louise Bardach
Award-winning reporter Bardach caps a decade of books about contemporary Cuba and Cubans in Miami and their lobbying power with this portrait of Fidel and Raúl Castro.


The Houses of Old Cuba by Llilian Llanes
Distinctive architecture of Cuba from the curator of the Museo Wilfredo Lam in Havana, complete with discussion of how the architecture is influenced by tropical climate and cultural heritage.

Estefan Kitchen by Emilio Estefan
Music and food! Who could ask for anything more? Emilio and Gloria Estefan offer up recipes from their Bongos Cuban Café as well as “personal accounts, culinary inspiration, and Cuban cuisine’s historical context.” A lovingly written and presented keepsake cookbook.

What titles would you recommend we add to this list?

HAT DANCE, Carmen Amato’s latest book in the Emilia Cruz series set in Acapulco, is FREE today for L4LL Kindle readers! Click here to get your free ebook and remember to leave a review when you finish the book.

HAT DANCE follows CLIFF DIVER, the first book in the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco which was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “consistently exciting.”

In HAT DANCE, Detective Emilia Cruz will risk a dance with the devil in a desperate attempt to stop an arsonist and find a missing girl. But when the music stops, the consequences will be deadly.

Check out all Carmen’s books at and connect with her on Twitter @CarmenConnects or Her Pinterest boards illustrate her books and can be found at

Margarita’s Poetry Picks


by *Margarita Engle

Here are just a few
of my favorite poetry books
old and new,
to add to our summer
because la poesía
has always been such a grand part
of our wide-winged culture’s
powerful heart.

So fly into the world
of a book!

Happy summer!
¡Feliz verano!


Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, Isabel. 2011. Ten Little Puppies; Diez Perritos. New York: Rayo/ Harper Collins.

Alarcón, Francisco. 1998. From The Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/Del Ombligo de la Luna y Otros Poemas de Verano. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

Argueta, Jorge Tetl. 2010. Arroz con leche; Rice Pudding. Toronto: Groundwood.

Delacre, Lulu. 2004. Arrorró Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. New York: Scholastic.

González, Lucía. 1994. The Bossy Gallito. New York: Scholastic.

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 2001. Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas. San Franscisco: Children’s Book Press.

Mora, Pat. 2007. Yum! Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! America’s Sproutings. New York: Lee & Low.

Tafolla, Carmen. 2008. What Can You Do With A Rebozo? ¿Qué Puedes Hacer Con Un Rebozo? Berkeley: Tricycle Press.


Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. 2009. Diego; Bigger Than Life. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

Cofer, Judith Ortiz. 2004. Call Me María; A Novel in Letters, Poems, and Prose. New York: Orchard.

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 1998. Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish. New York: Harper Collins

McCall, Guadalupe García. 2011. Under the Mesquite. New York: Lee & Low.

Soto, Gary. 1992. Neighborhood Odes. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

These are just a few examples—for a more complete selection of multicultural poetry, ask your librarian, or visit:

Vardell, Sylvia. 2012. The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists. Princeton, NJ: Pomelo Books.
The Poetry Friday anthology series, published by Pomelo Press.


*Brief bio
Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many books for young people, including the Newbery Honor-winning verse novel, The Surrender Tree, Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom. Her most recent books are: The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist (Harcourt; ages 10 and up), Mountain Dog (Holt; ages 8 and up), and When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story (Holt, ages 2 and up).

Find Your Latino Roots: 10 Must-Read Non-Fiction Books

by Carmen Amato

Our lives are not just shaped by where we are and what we’re doing right now. We’re ultimately shaped by our family’s stories and the cultural experiences that provided their framework.

But sometimes we don’t know the full background of events that impacted them or want to know if others have taken the same journey of exploration. Here are 10 non-fiction books, some well-known and others less so, that take us on those journeys.

1. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
This memoir by the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice has been a best-seller for weeks and justifiably so. Justice Sotomayor writes with great honesty and feeling about her upbringing, ties to Puerto Rico, academic achievements, as well as professional milestones.

2. Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano
If you love Arellano’s Ask a Mexican column, you’ll love the book, which is more of an anthem of discovery than anything else. It combines history, food writing, personal anecdotes, and more to make this a fun and informative read.

3. The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide by David Danelo
Danelo, a former US Marine, walked the US-Mexican border and recounted his experiences and lessons in this book. Half travelogue and half commentary, it is a fast and absorbing read.

4. No Lost Causes by Alvaro Uribe
This memoir of Colombia’s former president, the man widely credited with bringing his country back from the brink, is a study in leadership as well as a snapshot in time of that country.

5. Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
In Denver, Colorado, four high school friends face the future. Two are documented and two are not. What happens to them is a true and fascinating read by Thorpe who is a journalist but also the wife of Denver’s mayor at the time of the book’s events.

6. The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie
Winner of the Booker Prize, this slim volume recounts Rushdie’s travels through Nicaragua in 1986, at the height of the civil war. It is a unique glimpse of the country from a surprising and articulate viewer.

7. Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire
In 1962, when Eire was 11, he was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba to escape the revolution. His story of a childhood in Cuba as the revolution gathered is both poignant and poetic.

8. Take Me With You by Carlos Frías
A Cuban-American journalist discovers his father’s roots while on assignment in Havana. One of the best memoirs I’ve read to date.

9. Nobody’s Son by Luis Alberto Urrea
Urrea is a prolific and excellent writer but his own biography of growing up between two cultures might be his best work. With dark humor, he tells of the clashes between parents of opposing cultures and his own search for who he is.

10. When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
The fiction writer chronicles her early life in Puerto Rico and her move with her mother to New York at a young age. Santiago will encounter a new language, a anew school, translate for her mother at the welfare office, and eventually make it to Harvard.

5 Bonus Books

For those looking for more scholarly works, try:
Blood of Brothers by Stephen Kinzer
Published by the David Rockefeller Center, this detailed book is probably the definitive work in English of Nicaragua’s civil war. Kinzer writes from a journalists’ perspective rather than a political one, making the book well worth a read.

Divorcing the Dictator by Frederick Kempe
Journalist Kempe shows both on-the-ground reporting chops and a huge volume of follow-on research in this book about the US love-hate affair with Panamanian strongman General Noriega. Probably the best book out there on Noriega (currently in jail) and what made him tick.

Open Veins of Latin America by Edward Galleano
With a foreword by Isabel Allende, this book delivers as promised, with a sweeping view of Latin American history. The book is organized around the theme of exploitation, making for a different style and emphasis than most history books.

Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
McCullough’s brings his consummate historian’s skills to the issue of the building of the Panama Canal. The book examines every facet of the canal, from the doomed French efforts to Teddy Roosevelt’s influence in establishing the new country of Panama.

Distant Neighbors by Alan Riding
Just about every book about the US and Mexico gets compared to this book and so far it remains the definitive work for many. It is not so much a political discussion as it is a cultural one. Riding, a journalist, writes with humor, facts, and an excellent notion of life on both sides of the border.

Do you have a non-fiction book to recommend? Please share it in the comments with our readers!


Carmen Amato recharged her Kindle twice and found 5 must-read books during the writing of this guest post. She is the author of political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Both draw on her experiences living in Mexico and Central America where she discovered the best coffee on earth. Her next book, HAT DANCE: An Emilia Cruz Novel is due out later this summer.
For more check out:
Find her books at

Using Our Summer Reading Lists

One of the biggest challenges Latino parents face when it comes to finding Latino children’s literature is knowing what books are out there. We kept this in mind when we were creating our summer reading lists. They are filled with titles by or about Latinos, and include biographies, folklore, abecedarios, and many others. And they are great reads the whole year round, not just during summer.

We’ve been asked if the books on our reading lists are mandatory reading for the summer. NO. They are NOT mandatory. These are simply just a few of the books that we love and recommend to those of you looking for bilingual and Spanish-language books.

We’ve also been asked where these books can be purchased. Most, if not all, of the books can be purchased on We also have a list of links to sites that sell Latino literature on our Summer Reading Tips page.

You can find our summer reading lists here on our page with all our printables for the L4LL Summer Reading Program.

More to come!


You’ve been asking and asking where you can buy all these books in once place. So we created an Amazon store with all of the titles on our reading lists. This is an affiliate link. Your purchase helps to fund the summer reading program! Visit our store here.