February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Resources for Finding Latino Kid Lit

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.

CBC Diversity is a Children’s Book Council committee dedicated to “increasing the diversity of voices and experiences contributing to children’s and young adult literature.”

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

North America:

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).

Piñata Books is the children’s imprint of Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest publisher of contemporary literature by U.S. Hispanics.

Cinco Puntos Press is a small, independent publishing company rooted in El Paso, Texas.

Latin America/Spain:

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.

Popular and Award-winning Latino Author/Illustrators
Alma Flor Ada (Dancing Home; Love, Amalia)
Malin Alegría (Estrella’s Quinceañera, “Bordertown” series)

Julia Alvarez (Before We Were Free; Return to Sender; “Tia Lola” series)

Rudolfo Anaya (Bless Me, Ultima)

Jorge Argueta (“Cooking Poem” series)
Monica Brown (Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match; Waiting for the Biblioburro)

Viola Canales (The Tequila Worm)

Veronica Chambers (“Marisol & Magdalena” series; Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa)

Judith Ortiz Cofer (The Meaning of Consuelo; Call Me, Maria)
Raul Cólon (Tómas and the Library Lady; My Name is Gabito)

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)

Nicholasa Mohr (Nilda; El Bronx Remembered)
Pat Mora (“Día del libro” founder; Doña Flor)

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)

Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Aristotle & Dante; Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood)
René Saldaña Jr. (The Jumping Tree; “Mickey Rangel” mysteries)

Eric Velasquez (Grandma’s Gift, The Skirt)

Professional Development

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).

El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros: Building Culture of Literacy in Your Community Through Día. Jeanette Larson. ALA.

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.

National Latinos Children’s Literature Conference

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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  1. Sherry York says:

    Several of my books on multicultural literature for young readers focus on Latino lit. “Picture Books by Latino Writers: A Guide for Librarians, Teachers, Parents, and Students” (Linworth 2002) and “Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Latino Writers” (Linworth 2002) are culture-specific. Also of potential interest: “Ethnic Book Awards: A Directory of Multicultural Literature for Young Readers” (Linworth 2005), “Booktalking Authentic Multicultural Literature: Fiction, History, and Memoirs for Teens,” (Linworth 2008), and “Booktalking Authentic Multicultural Literature: Fiction and History for Young Readers” (Linworth 2009). All are available from ABC-CLIO http://www.abc-clio.com and Amazon.com. Benjamin Alire Saenz is included in three of the five titles above. I’m glad he and many other outstanding Latino authors are finally being recognized for their excellent works. :-)

    • Mary Louise Sanchez says:

      Sherry York’s lists in her books are excellent. I also updated more titles on my Pinterest board Latino/Latina experiences.

  2. Thanks for this fantastic list! I pulled together a couple of resources last fall for National Hispanic Heritage Month–you might want to include the UNM Institute of Latin American and Iberian Studies: its monthly, teacher-oriented book group Vamos a Leer reads and discusses children’s literature related to Latin America, with an emphasis on the K-12 classroom. Check out their blog, Vamos a Leer: Teaching Latin America and Literacy, where you’ll also find (among other great resources) the Latin American YA Bookshelf.

    Thanks again!

  3. Mary Louise Sanchez says:

    I was one of three recipients of the inaugural Emerging Voice Award at the 2013 winter SCBWI conference in New York. SCBWI understands and cares about letting all children and especially underrepresented children read about themselves by helping authors like me get representation.

  4. Please review my bilingual children’s book titled Braids/Trencitas, published by Lectorum, which focuses on Mexican family cultural traditions and illiteracy. The power of both oral storytelling and the written word is celebrated in both Spanish and English.


  1. […] Looking for just the right book? Joanna Penn explores how ebook readers shop and the importance of sampling, while Shelley Diaz lists resources for finding Latino kid lit. […]

  2. […] you still want more titles, School Library Journal had a post in January listing many Resources for Finding Latino Kid LIt, the Florida Department of Education created a Hispanic Heritage Month Recommended Reading List, […]