Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Picture Books That Celebrate Latino Culture

Some of childhood’s earliest lessons come from the pages of books. Trips to the bookshelf can expose kids to new information and ideas and teach them vivid lessons about life, all without having to leave home. It is too bad, then, that most of the picture books children see and hear feature characters that look the same. Kids of color love reading books about diverse characters, but young readers of any race or ethnicity can benefit from picture books that value the experiences of non-white characters.

To diversify the reading list of children in your life, here are some picture books we love that feature Mexican and Mexican-American characters. Race and culture are major themes in some, while others are simply stories in which the characters’ ethnic background is not underscored. Some of the books contain Spanish words, which children will enjoy learning; others are bilingual so that the whole text is presented in both English and Spanish side-by-side. For extra fun, we recommend helping kids look for cognates, or words that are the same or almost the same in both languages, such as “diaro” and “diary” in My Diary From Here to There.

Our list is roughly organized from less sophisticated themes to more complex themes. We recommend reading these books to children below third grade or so.

Abuela by Arthur Durros

Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales

What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla

My Abuelita by Tony Johnson

The Old Man and His Door by Gary Soto

I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada

Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

The Perfect Season for Dreaming by Benjamin Aliera Saenz

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora

Alejandro’s Gift by Richard Albert

The Gullywasher by Joyce Rossi

My Diary From Here to There by Amada Irma Perez

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