Hispanic Heritage: Books for Kids and Teens

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) with some great books for kids and teens. Read a book with your children in both Spanish and English or pick up an award-winning novel for teens.

Bilingual books for kids

My Very Own Room book jacket

In Spanish and English, Amada Irma Pérez tells the story of a young Mexican American girl who lives with her large family in a crowded house in My Very Own Room / Mi Propio Cuartito. She wants a space of her own, so her family works together to turn a small closet into her dream room.

Pat Mora rhythmically describes the animals and noises of the desert in Spanish and English in Listen to the Desert / Oye al Desierto. Illustrated in watercolor, this picture book is great for reading out loud.

Olga Loya tells fifteen Latin American traditional tales in Magic Moments / Momentos Mágicos. This book’s stories in Spanish and English are divided into four sections: scary stories, myths, trickster tales, and strong women.

For a bilingual Halloween poem, turn to Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes. This colorful, seasonal book depicts all types of ghosts and creatures headed to the Monsters' Ball.

Award-winning books for teens

Before We Were Free book jacket

Winner of the Américas Book Award, Julia Alvarez depicts a 12-year old girl, Anita de la Torre, living in the Dominican Republic in the novel Before We Were Free. It’s 1960 and most of Anita’s relatives have emigrated to the U.S. Her family in the Dominican Republic is terrorized by the government’s secret police.

Pablo, a six-year old Mexican boy, is orphaned in an illegal border crossing. He comes to live with 16-year old Sophie and her family in Red Glass by Laura Resau. This Américas Book Award Winner focuses on Sophie as she helps Pablo go back to his surviving family in Mexico in this novel about the immigrant experience.

A 2005 ALA Young Adult Top Ten Selection, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz captures life growing up Chicano in a small town in the 1960s. It depicts the tough barrio of Las Cruces, NM, where Sammy and Juliana live and struggle with violence, racism, and the impact of the war in Vietnam.

An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio by Judith Ortiz Cofer contains twelve short stories depicting immigrant teens in America with a Puerto Rican heritage. This book won the Pura Belpré Award.

Nonfiction books

Famous Hispanic Americans book jacket

Famous Hispanic Americans by Janet Nomura Morey and Wendy Dunn profiles fourteen accomplished Hispanic Americans, including politicians, scientists, artists, performers, and others. Each entry discusses the person’s childhood and how they achieved success.

George Ochoa has compiled a quick reference called The New York Public Library Amazing Hispanic American History: A Book of Answers for Kids. This handy book includes fun facts in a question and answer format.

For baseball lovers, take a look at Latino Legends: Hispanics in Major League Baseball. In this book, Michael Silverstone includes biographies of players from Spanish-speaking countries, such as Roberto Clemente and Miguel Tejada.

More recommended reading

Find more good books for kids and teens in these award lists. The Américas Book Award recognizes outstanding books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States and the Pura Belpré Award highlights Latino and Latina writers and illustrators whose work best portrays the Latino culture.

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