Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2015

Remarkable Latino Children's Literature 2015

Each year, we receive dozens of books to be considered in the L4LL Reading Programs. Most of them are beautifully written and/or illustrated works that depict the diversity of the Latino experience. A few years ago, in response to the lack of Latino children’s literature representation in national reading lists, we began sharing our own list of some of the incredible titles that are published each year by talented Latino authors and illustrators. We had hoped to encourage these national lists to begin including books by Latinos. Some, such as the New York Times, have included Latino illustrators, such as Raúl Colón and Duncan Tonatiuh, in their annual Best Illustrated Children’s Books list, but have yet to include any Latino authors in their annual Notable Children’s Books list. We hope that this year will be different.

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 Latinos. 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.

As always, BRAVO to the amazing authors and illustrators who work so hard to give a voice to our culture and traditions.

The following list contains affiliate links. 

Drum Dream Girl
Drum Dream Girl
By Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López. (HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99)
A beautifully written and visually vibrant book based on the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, the Chinese-African-Cuban, who at the age of 10, dared to break Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers.

Salsa: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem
By Jorge Argueta. Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Groundwood Books, $18.95)
A visual and auditory celebration, this book follows a brother and sister as they follow a recipe to make an outstanding salsa.  

Little Chanclas
Little Chanclas
By José Lozano. (Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95)
A sweet, bilingual tale about Lilly Lujan who goes 
everywhere in her little chanclas- baptisms, barbeques, picnics, quinceañeras, and more. Until one day, her chanclas are gone. What will she do?

Mango, Abuela, and Me
Mango, Abuela, and Me
By Meg Medina. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. (Candlewick, $15.99)
When Abuela comes to stay, Mia doesn’t understand what she is saying… and Abuela doesn’t understand her either! But with the help of a parrot named Mango, the two find a way to learn and speak each other’s language.

Funny Bones
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
Written & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Harry N. Abrams, $18.95)
Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.

Mayas Blanket
Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya
Written by Monica Brown. Illustrated by David Diaz. (Children’s Book Press, $17.95)
In this Latino spin on a traditional Yiddish folk song, a handmade blanket transforms as little Maya grows up.

Vamonos Lets Go
¡Vámonos! Let’s Go
By René Colato Laínez. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Holiday House, $16.95)
“The Wheels on the Bus” takes on a new, bilingual identity as children sing in both English and Spanish about the exciting noises made by all sorts of vehicles.

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.

Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013

It certainly appears as though we’ve come full circle. This month, Latinas for Latino Lit celebrates it’s first anniversary. What a year we’ve had! And to think that it all began with an article in the New York Times by Motoko Rich on Latino students’ lack of access to books that reflect their culture and experience.

So we were especially disappointed when the NYT released its annual list of Notable Children’s Books last week without a single title written by or about Latinos…again. We have more to say on this topic, so look for another response from us soon. But we want to start off by sharing our own list of Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature with extraordinary titles written and/or illustrated by Latinos that were released in 2013. Perhaps the New York Times should ask us for suggestions next year?

We hope you’ll enjoy this list. You can download and print your copy by clicking the link above. And we know that there were many other children’s titles by talented Latino authors that were released this year. Which ones would you add? Share them with us!

YES! WE ARE LATINOS. By Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy. Illustrated by David Diaz. (Charlesbridge Publishing, $18.95) A collection of 12 narrative poems, each one describing a snippet of time from the lives of 13 Latino children who come by their heritage in different ways.

TITO PUENTE, MAMBO KING. By Monica Brown. Illustrated by Rafael López. (Rayo, $17.99) A vibrantly illustrated story about the life of the legendary musician, Tito Puente. Brown incorporates music and rhythm in her lively text and challenges children to find music in the world around them.

HOW FAR DO YOU LOVE ME? Written and illustrated by Lulu Delacre. (Lee & Low Books, $11.95) Journey to 13 different places around the world in this beautifully illustrated children’s book about love and families.

ROUND IS A TORTILLA. By Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by John Parra. (Chronicle Books, $16.99) The perfect introduction to shapes, this book uses rhyming text with Spanish words embedded and cultural objects to help children recognize circles, squares, and more.

PANCHO RABBIT AND THE COYOTE: A Migrant’s Tale. Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Harry N. Abrams, $16.95) An allegorical tale about a topic that affects many Latino children, this story helps kids understand some of the reasons and hardships associated with immigration.

NIÑO WRESTLES THE WORLD. Written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. (Roaring Book Press, $16.99) A hilarious introduction to the world of lucha libre, the young luchador, Niño, defeats a series of villainous challengers,  like the Guanajuato Mummy, while wearing only his red mask and underwear!

GOOD NIGHT CAPTAIN MAMA. By Graciela Tiscareno-Sato. Illustrated by Linda Lens. (Gracefully Global Group LLC, $16.99) A ground-breaking bilingual book that introduces children to Latinas serving in the military, and honors the latter’s contribution to our country.