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!

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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.

Caminar
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.

L4LL’s 2014 Young Adult Challenge

2014 YA Challenge

One of the goals of the L4LL Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program is to use technology in a way to boost literacy skills among our youth and prepare them for college. That’s why we created the Young Adult Challenge, which combines technology with Latino literature.

Kids ages 9 to 18 are still challenged to read 8 books this summer, BUT we want them to also present a video book report on a piece of Latino (children’s) literature that they’ve read. This book may be one of the 8 books they’ve read for the program, and may or may not be found on our reading list for young adults. The video should be two minutes or less and simply tell us about the book and whether or not your child recommends it to other kids.

The families of participants in this age range who submit a list of the 8 books they’ve read over the summer, as well as a video book report about a piece of Latino (children’s) lit that they’ve read, will be entered to win one of 20 Samsung Chromebooks and Google Play gift cards donated by our underwriter, Google.

The video book report will be archived in the L4LL YouTube channel. Click here for a complete description of the YA Challenge Rules and to download your parental consent form.

Below is an awesome example from last year by then 9-year-old Marianna. If you’d like to see the other videos submitted by kids ages 9  to 18, check out our Book Reports Playlist on our YouTube channel.

L4LL’s 2014 Summer Reading Incentives

SRP Giveaway module

We are so excited to announce this year’s summer reading program incentives! As you may remember from last year, we firmly believe that children should be rewarded for their hard work and incentives, when used sparingly, can help to motivate students – especially reluctant readers. Don’t forget that last summer we shared with you How to Use Incentives to Get your Child to Read, if you are looking for some helpful tips.

We have a great collection of educational products that we’ll be giving away at the end of the program to families with parents or children who read 8 books over the course of the summer. Our fantastic giveaways are available to all our program participants – both freemium and preemium members. See a complete list of our incentives below.

Important Reminders:

  • Registration CLOSES on July 14th.
  • Submission forms for up to 4 children per family are available in your Account pages. Just log in to access them.

** INTERNATIONAL FAMILIES: Children in the older age groups are not eligible to win the school supplies or Chromebooks. However, if you are one of the first 50 families to complete the program, then you will be eligible to receive a $50 Google Play gift card.

 

4 and Under

Parents who read 8 books to their children under 4 years old this summer will be entered to win a $50 Google Play gift card to help parents find and purchase additional eBooks on Google Play to read to their children.

ZOOBEAN-RGB-Tagline

In addition, three families will be entered to win a 1-year subscription to Zoobean‘s Book-of-the-Month Club, which sends a carefully selected book to your home once a month, and includes an accompanying digital lesson plan delivered to your email. This service helps parents nurture their children’s literacy skills with books and activities geared to your child’s interests. Zoobean is a  personalized subscription service that serves families with children ages 0 – 8 years old.

 

4 to 8 Years

School supplies

Once again, we’re looking forward to helping parents with the expenses associated with back-to-school time at the end of the summer. This year, the first 60 families who complete the summer reading program and whose children read and submit the titles of 8 books over the course of the summer will automatically receive a backpack full of free school supplies!

 

9 to 18 Years (Young Adult Challenge)

Chromebook

One of the goals of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program is to take advantage of technology and use it to boost literacy skills among our youth. Our Young Adult Challenge does exactly that as it combines technology with Latino literature.

We understand that kids ages 9 to 18 need access to technology for academic achievement and to help parents cover the cost of a laptop on which their children can do research, write reports, graph data, and much, much more, we’re giving away Chromebooks!

The families of participants in this age range who submit a list of the 8 books they’ve read over the summer, as well as a video book report about a piece of Latino (children’s) lit that they’ve read, will be entered to win a Chromebook donated by our sponsor, Google, and $50 Google Play gift cards to help you purchase educational applications for your Chromebook.  The video book report will be archived in the L4LL YouTube channel. This book may be one of the 8 books they’ve read for the program, and may or may not be found on our reading list for young adults. Up to 20 winners will be chosen at random from the entries.

For a complete description of the YA Challenge Rules, click on the link below.

YA Challenge Resources

 

A Video Book Report of El periquillo sarniento

Claudia choose El periquillo sarniento by author José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizarde. In her video book report, this rising high school senior explains the plot, characters, and that she was drawn to the book by the theme and value of morale that Fernandez de Lizarde presents in his book. Claudia’s reading comprehension, vocabulary, ability to form an argument, and public speaking are some of the literacy skills on display in her L4LL video book report.

Do we love her obvious biliteracy skills? Yes!

Hey, college-bound students: This is what you can use to augment your college applications and impress them with your portfolio!

A Video Book Report of Return to Sender

We’re so pleased to share today’s video book report that was submitted by Jared, a ninth grader in Pennsylvania. He’s chosen a moving book by author Julia Álvarez on the controversial topic of immigration. We love his presentation of the plot and characters, as well as his explanation for why he recommends the book.

Well done, Jared!

Today’s the Deadline to Submit Your Book Report Videos!

Don’t forget that today is the last day to submit your book report videos for the YA Challenge! Submitting is easy and families will be entered to win a Chromebook or Nexus 7 tablet, so just grab your camera and start filming. You can download the YA Challenge rules here.

Winners will be contacted tomorrow and the prizes will be mailed this week.

Check out this other entry below from 6th grader, Denali, who chose Dancing Home as the subject of her book review. ¡Bien hecho, Denali!

A Video Book Report on Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

There’s only 5 days left to submit your video book reports for a chance to win a Chromebook or Nexus 7 tablet! The deadline is August 12th. And we just love all the videos that have already come in! In fact, we’re sharing another one with you today to maybe provide some inspiration for your own children.

Below is 4th grader Kotomi Marisol’s awesome review of Monica Brown’s Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina. We love it when our multicultural kids can identify with the characters they read about!

A Video Book Report on Dancing Home

Have you submitted a video book report, yet, for the Young Adult Challenge? We have 10 Chromebooks and 10 Nexus 7 tablets ready to ship out in a few weeks after the deadline passes. Families with children ages 9 to 18 have until August 12th to submit their videos. Find all the details here.

Check out how easy it is to do a video book report by watching Marianna Cruz‘s awesome book report below. We thoroughly approve of her book choice (Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta will be thrilled!) and are so proud of her presentation. She told us her name, which book she chose, a little bit about it, why she likes it, and if she recommends it to other kids. She did an incredible job, don’t you think? ¡Bien hecho, Marianna!

¡Aplausos, por favor!

YA Challege Opened to Include Tweens


We’ve heard you! We’ve had emails asking if we would consider opening up our teen challenge to include younger children, so the L4LL YA Challenge is now being expanded to allow tweens to also participate. We realize that kids ages 9 to 12 are consuming technology at a accelerating rate, including in their schools and at home. Many parents are using tablets and computer software to help their children become tech literate and to help them learn specific concepts that the kids are struggling with at school.

The L4LL YA Challenge

Kids ages 9 to 18 are still challenged to read 8 books this summer, AND we want them to also present a video book report on a piece of Latino (children’s) literature that they’ve read. This book may be one of the 8 books they’ve read for the program, and may or may not be found on our reading list for young adults.

The families of participants in this age range who submit a list of the 8 books they’ve read over the summer, as well as a video book report about a piece of Latino (children’s) lit that they’ve read, will be entered to win one of 10 Chromebooks and 10 Nexus 7 tablets donated by our sponsor, Google. The video book report will be archived in the L4LL YouTube channel.

For a complete description of the YA Challenge Rules, click on the link below.

YA Challenge Resources