Celebrated author Benjamin Alire Sáenz swept the Youth Media Awards on Monday with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (S & S, 2012). The young adult novel about two Mexican-American teen boys whose friendship deepens into romance in 1987 El Paso, Texas, won the Pura Belpré Author Medal, the Stonewall Medal, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Yet Saénz is just one of the many talented writers of children’s literature with Latino characters and themes. Below is a compilation of tools for locating books and program ideas for not only Spanish-speaking patrons, but for all of those interested in reading more diverse titles. Please list any resources we might have missed in the comments section below.
Book Award Lists
The Pura Belpré Awards are presented to “a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”
The Tomás Rivera Book Award, established in 1985 by the Texas State University College of Education, honors authors and illustrators who create literature that best depicts the Mexican-American experience.
The Américas Awards Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature recognizes works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or non-fiction published in the previous year in English or Spanish in the United States that “authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the U.S.”
REFORMA is the American Library Association’s affiliate association dedicated to promoting library and information services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking community.
Día de los niños/Día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is usually celebrated on April 30. Now approaching its 17th year, it emphasizes the importance of reading and literacy for children of all backgrounds. The website contains reading guides (updated yearly) and resources for creating a “Día” program in your library.
SLJ’s “Libro por Libro” column is written by Tim Wadham, the director of the City of Puyallup Public Library in Washington State, and longtime advocate for awareness of Latino-themed kid lit.
¡Imagínense Libros! Founded by Dr. Jamie C. Naidoo, past chair of the Pura Belpré award, is designed to help librarians, educators, and parents choose high-quality books authentically representing Latino cultures.
¡Colorín Colorado! is a bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners.
Mamiverse Books is the book division of the website for “Empowering Latina Moms and Families.” It publishes online reviews, author interviews, and timely articles on kid’s literature.
The Latin Baby Book Club was created for families looking for bilingual children’s literature that celebrates Latino culture.
La Bloga is written by Latino(a) authors, novelists, essayists and poets. It concentrates primarily on Hispanic literature of all kinds, and many times features children’s authors.
Publishers That Specialize in Latino-themed Kid Lit
Groundwood Books is a Canadian publisher of Canadian and American children’s fiction for all ages. Its Tigrillo imprint focuses on Latin American authors.
Lectorum, formerly an imprint of Scholastic, is an online book distributor that has launched a new Spanish-language website for consumers, offering thousands of adult and children’s Spanish-language titles.
Lee & Low Books is an independent children’s book publisher focusing on diversity. Imprints include Bebop Books (for the classroom), Arcoíris (Spanish-language), Children’s Book Press (bilingual), and Tu Books (fantasy, sci-fi, & mystery).
Cinco Puntos Press is a small, independent publishing company rooted in El Paso, Texas.
Alfaguara Infantil (Spain) publishes Latin American authors and translations of popular U.S. titles.
Ediciones Ekaré (Venezuela) offers bilingual and Spanish-language titles.
Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico publishes primarily Puerto Rican authors.
Editorial Hotel Papel (Spain) has the Libros para crecer en igualdad series, among others.
Fondo de Cultura Económica (México) produces books for young readers by authors/illustrators from around the world.
Grupo Edebé (Spain) offers books for children and teens in Spanish.
Julia Alvarez (Before We Were Free; Return to Sender; “Tia Lola” series)
Rudolfo Anaya (Bless Me, Ultima)
Viola Canales (The Tequila Worm)
Veronica Chambers (“Marisol & Magdalena” series; Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa)
David Díaz (Martín de Porres; Smoky Night)
Margarita Engle (The Surrender Tree; The Poet Slave of Cuba)
Caridad Ferrer (When Stars Go Blue; Adíos to My Old Life)
Oscar Hijuelos (Dark Dudes)
Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Under the Mesquite; Summer of the Mariposas)
Sonia Manzano (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano)
Yuyi Morales (Little Night; Los Gatos Black on Halloween)
Pam Muñoz Ryan (Esperanza Rising; The Dreamer)
Nancy Osa (Cuba 15)
Gary Soto (“Chato” picture book series; Baseball in April)
Matt de la Peña (Ball Don’t Lie; Mexican Whiteboy)
Ashley Hope Perez (What Can’t Wait; The Knife and the Butterfly)
Eric Velasquez (Grandma’s Gift, The Skirt)
Serving Latino Communities: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians. Carmila Alire & Jacqueline Ayala. 2nd ed. Neal Schuman.
Serving Latino Teens. Salvador Avila. (Libraries Unlimited).
Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries. Jaime Naidoo, ed. Libraries Unlimited.
Early Literacy Programming en Español: Mother Goose on the Loose Programs for Bilingual Learners. Betsy Diamant-Cohen. Neal Schuman.