Children’s Book Week! Children’s Books that Celebrate the Latino Culture

Once upon a time, there were no children of color in picture books.  Books that depicted children with different skin tones was considered to be a non selling factor.  The many different cultures of the American people were being stifled and the little children of color were not seeing themselves represented in the books they read.

Thankfully times are changing and it has been an up hill battle, but slowly, stereotypes are being broken and  we are beginning to see more and more multicultural books on the shelves. It is important that ALL children see themselves in the literature they read, it is important that they see themselves living in peace and harmony with people of other cultures and races.  It is important that they know they belong in their communities and in this world.  Changes are being made but we do need to do more. We need ALL children to see themselves represented in a positive light to give them positive reinforcement that they belong.  Diverse Literature is making great strides and this is exciting to see. Here are a few of my favorite  picture books that celebrate the Mexican/Hispanic/Latino Culture, my culture. 

lucha libre

Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask by Xavier Garza

In Xavier Garza’s bilingual kids’ book, young Carlitos attends his first lucha libre match in Mexico City. At ringside, Carlitos sees the famous luchador—the Man in the Silver Mask, a man whose eyes look terribly familiar. The masked wrestler even smiles at Carlitos! He is mesmerized as the Man in the Silver Mask is pitted against the terrible forces of evil—los rudos, the bad guys of lucha libre. They make the audience boo and hiss! In the end, though, the Man in the Silver Mask triumphs and, in the process, gains a lifelong fan.

 I love anything and everything Xavier writes, he is a talent artist and a brilliant storyteller. He grew up not too far from me here in Rio Grade Valley. He is the author and illustrator of many great children’s books.

Books by Xavier Garza

Dale, Dale, Dale Una fiesta de numeros by Rene Saldana

dale dale“Today is my birthday, and I am so excited. / One pinata filled with candy. / Two hours until the party. / Three tables set for all of the guests.” Mateo counts to twelve as he anticipates the fun he’ll have at his party!

There will be family, friends and lots of goodies for the children: tops, marbles and even toy cars! But before the children can hit the pinata, they will sing the birthday boy a song and enjoy eating a delicious cake. And then Mateo will be “the happiest boy in the whole wide world,” because he gets to swing at the pinata first with everyone cheering him on: Dale! Dale! Dale!

Acclaimed kids’ book author Rene Saldana, Jr. creates another winner with his first picture book, illustrated in vibrant colors by Carolyn Dee Flores, for children ages 4 to 8. Kids will relish practicing their counting skills while dreaming about hitting a pinata at their very own fun-filled fiesta.

I am honored and privileged to say that Dr. Rene Saldana was my Children’s & Adolescent Literature professor in college. There was a wait list to get into his class.  I wanted in so bad, I went to talk to him and told I would sit on the floor if need be.  He was an amazing teacher and he is an amazing writer.  One of my favorite writers of all time.

Books by Rene Saldana Jr

book fiestaBook Fiesta by Pat Mora

Take a ride in a long submarine or fly away in a hot air balloon. Whatever you do, just be sure to bring your favorite book! Rafael López’s colorful illustrations perfectly complement Pat Mora’s lilting text in this delightful celebration of El día de los niños/El día de los libros; Children’s Day/Book Day. Toon! Toon!

Includes a letter from the author and suggestions for celebrating El día de los niños/El día de los libros; Children’s Day/Book Day.

Pasea por el mar en un largo submarino o viaja lejos en un globo aerostático. No importa lo que hagas, ¡no olvides traer tu libro preferido! Las coloridas ilustraciones de Rafael López complementan perfectamente el texto rítmico de Pat Mora en esta encantadora celebración de El día de los niños/El día de los libros. ¡Tun! ¡Tun!

Incluye una carta de la autora y sugerencias para celebrar El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

The author will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to literacy initiatives related to Children’s Day/Book Day.

La autora donará una porción de las ganancias de este libro a programas para fomentar la alfabetización relacionados con El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

Pat Mora is one of the most celebrated living Hispanic writers.  She writes books for all ages.  Her work is captivating, magical and wise. She is an active advocate in bringing diverse literature to the mainstream. I love her.

Books by Pat Mora

Chato’s Kitchen by Gary Soto


Chato is so happy to see that a family of mice has moved into the area, he decides to invite them over for dinner, but the mice know he has something else in mind and so bring one additional guest along.

“Chato, a low-riding cat with six stripes, was slinking toward a sparrow when he heard the scrape of tiny feet coming from the yard next door.” You get the idea. Chato is a sly, mustachioed “cool cat” from an East Los Angeles barrio. The tiny feet? Those belong to the new mice (ratoncitos) next door–“five mice the color of gray river rock,” to be precise. Chato promptly invites them over for dinner, in exactly the sense you might fear.

“That Chato cat seems muy simpatico, very nice, I’m sure,” says Papi mouse. The mice (being cheese lovers) spend the day making quesadillas for the fiesta, while Chato and his best friend Novio Boy busily prepare side dishes for a meal con ratoncitos. Instead of the anticipated gruesome ending, a surprise twist is in the works.

Oh do the kids love this book.  It is so funny it will bring tears to your eyes.  Gary Soto writes books for all ages and had published over 50 books. He is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and a mulit-award winning writer.His books are thought provoking and fun.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

last stop

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Books by Matt De La Pena

 Matt de la Peña is the New York Times Bestselling author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.  He is one of my go to writers for boys.  I can give any boy a Matt De La Pena book and they will come back to the library satisfied and asking for more.

Michael & I with these Amazing Acclaimed Mexican American Writers.

reneMichael & Rene Saldana

mattMe with Matt De La Pena

docThe Doc and I!

pat moraI was finally able to meet Pat Mora 🙂

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