Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing, and we hope you are celebrating the rich history and culture of Latinx communities in your classroom. One of the most impactful ways you can help students explore other cultures and celebrate their own is through literature. This month, honor the Hispanic cultures represented in your classroom and learn about new places together, through books.
Below we have recommended books for every grade level to help you discover something new. We have included an excerpt of the publisher’s description below so you can see if the book is a good fit for your students!
Grades K through 2
Galápagos Girl / Galapagueña by Marsha Diane Arnold
For Valentina, living on the Galápagos Islands means spending her days outside, observing the natural world around her. She greets sea lions splashing on the shore, scampers over lava rocks with Sally Lightfoot crabs, and swims with manta rays. She is a Galápagos girl, and there is no other place she’d rather be!
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle
Together, a boy and his parents drive to the city of Havana, Cuba, in their old family car. Along the way, they experience the sights and sounds of the streets—neighbors talking, musicians performing, and beautiful, colorful cars putt-putting and bumpety-bumping along. In the end, though, it’s their old car, Cara Cara, that the boy loves best. A joyful celebration of the Cuban people and their resourceful innovation.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy “eye scream” or making friends with other monsters. With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.
Grades 3 through 5
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina
Fans of Judy Moody and Clarice Bean will love Juana, the spunky young Colombian girl who stars in this playful, abundantly illustrated series. Juana loves many things: drawing, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or learning English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones (the hearts) of readers everywhere.
The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El niño que alcanzó las estrellas by José M. Hernández
Every night when he was a boy, José M. Hernández would look out the window and stare at the stars. They were different colors: blue, yellow, and white. Some were larger and brighter than others, and some twinkled as if they were alive. Later, when he saw man land on the moon on TV, he knew he wanted to be an astronaut.
With beautiful illustrations by Steven Petruccio, this heartwarming, bilingual picture book will introduce children to the concept of space travel. The author’s story is sure to motivate kids to set goals and reach for their own dreams.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
When Cesar Chavez led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers.
But Cesar wasn’t always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive. Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that—maybe—he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It’s hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.
Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros
Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won’t change things at home—not without each other’s help. This year, star basketball player Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac’s parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, straight-A Marco vows on finally winning his father’s approval by earning a spot on the school’s basketball team.
But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs
It is 1913, and 12-year-old Petra Luna’s mama has died while the revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left—her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito—until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.
Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising soccer star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.
On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any further. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Había una vez . . .
There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children—among them Petra and her family—have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.
Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet—and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?
Gideon Green in Black and White by Katie Henry
Gideon’s short-lived run as a locally famous boy detective ended when middle school started, and everyone else—including his best friend, Lily—moved on while Gideon kept holding on to his trench coat, fedora, and his treasured film noir collection. Now he’s 16 and officially retired. That is, until Lily shows up suddenly at Gideon’s door, needing his help.
As the case gets bigger than Gideon or Lily could have anticipated, Gideon must balance his black-and-white quest for the truth with the full colors of real life—or risk a permanent fade to black.
We hope you and your students enjoy these books! For more resources and ideas to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, check out these blog posts:
- Making Local and Global Connections during Hispanic Heritage Month
- How to Learn About a New Culture During Hispanic Heritage Month
- Celebrating Culture During Hispanic Heritage Month