29 Picture Books to Celebrate the Latinx Experience

From immigration and lucha libre to family high jinks and the first day of school, these stories illuminate the uniqueness and universality of the Latinx experience. Shine a light on them during Latinx Heritage Month and beyond.


From immigration and lucha libre to family high jinks and the first day of school, these stories illuminate the uniqueness and universality of the Latinx experience. Shine a light on them during Latinx Heritage Month, September 15–October 15, and beyond.


 Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri. illus. by Courtney Dawson. Sleeping Bear. ISBN 9781534110632.
PreS-Gr 3–Rojo, verde, azul, rosado, morado, violeta. Spanish-speaking Isabel, with brown skin and curly hair, loves coloring with her favorite crayons. What she does not like is that tomorrow is her first day of school where everyone will speak English. This first day of school story beautifully serves as a mirror for children learning English and as a window into their experience for their classmates. 

Un tren llamado Esperanza/A Train Called Hope. by Mario Bencastro. illus. by Robert Casilla. Piñata. ISBN 9781558859197. 
K-Gr 3–A brown-skinned boy reminisces about his first present, a small toy train with a little girl as a passenger, that took his imagination on many adventures all over the world. Now, he boards a life-size train in the hopes that it will reunite him with his family. This is a much-needed introduction for young readers to the migration many children make every day. And, those who have experienced this themselves will be able to identify with the protaganist who is assumed Latinx.

A Thousand White Butterfilies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez & Karen Lynn Williams. illus. by Gina Maldonado. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580895774.
PreS-Gr 1–Isabella’s family doesn’t have a firm grasp of English yet, but she is hopeful, preparing her outfit and a fresh box of crayons that she will share with all of her new friends on her first day of school in the United States. Then a snowstorm wipes all of Isabella’s optimism away. The school is closed. Will a chance encounter with another girl outside in the dazzling white turn everything around? A sweet and gently poignant title that would make a lovely addition to collections underscoring the hopeful side of the immigrant experience.

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles. illus. by Erika Meza. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593111048.
A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy's life on the U.S.-Mexico border, visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care. 

The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos. illus. by Gaby D'Alessandro. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593110478.
K-Gr 2–The cot in the living room is a source of envy to a young girl who, in a first-person narration, resents the privileges kids whose caregivers work the night shift enjoy in her home. She imagines it would be fun to have the whole living room to herself, to stay up late, and sneak snacks from the kitchen. It isn’t until the girl is allowed to sleep on the cot herself that she discovers how scary it is, and realizes how it must feel to the visiting children. An important message about empathy, delivered with a light and skillful touch.

Maxy Survives the Hurricane by Ricia Anne Chansky & Yaritza Marcial Acevedo. illus. by Olga Barinova. Piñata. ISBN 9781558859180.
PreS-Gr 2–An adorable brown dog experiences a hurricane in his country of Puerto Rico in this gently reassuring, bilingual picture book.This simple, straightforward tale will provide a window for kids who haven’t experienced a hurricane before and offer a mirror for kids who have. Cartoon-style illustrations reinforce the familiar, calming tone of the story.

My Day with the Panye by Tami Charles. illus. by Sara Palacios. Piñata. ISBN 9780763697495.
PreS-Gr 3–Manman is planning a special day for her daughter, Fallon, in the markets of Port-au-Prince, and little sister Naima will have to wait her turn. Charles sprinkles Haitian words into the text that give texture to this loving book, which is part interpersonal story and part travelogue of sights and sounds.

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! by Anika Aldamuy Denise. illus. by Leo Espinosa. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062877703.
PreS-Gr 3–Bright colors enrich this biographical picture book about the early life of Rita Moreno, the award-winning Puerto Rican actor, dancer, and singer. An inspirational title for young elementary children, this energetic, illustrated biography honors her determined spirit with colorful exuberance. 

 Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz. illus. by Michah Player. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780063014442.
K-Gr 2–Young readers will race alongside a Mexican American boy as he runs through his neighborhood streets to buy a cold paleta, a Mexican-style ice pop, quickly greeting local business owners on the way. This bright, bilingual story sparkles with celebrated musician-songwriter Diaz’s English and Spanish rhymes and Player’s bubbly, colorful digital illustrations, blending seamlessly to represent Diaz’s pride for his hometown in Los Angeles. 

I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250231093.
PreS-Gr 1–A gentle pastel palette sets the tone for this sweet and simple picture book about a Latinx family welcoming their first baby. Filled to the brim with comfort and love, this book is a welcome addition to most picture book collections, especially where bilingual books are in demand.

A Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle. illus. by Sara Palacios. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781534444898.
Review pending: From Pura Belpré Award–winning author Engle comes a lively, rhythmic picture book about a little girl visiting her grandfather who is a pregonero—a singing street vendor in Cuba—and helping him sell his frutas.

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! by Donna Barba Higuera. illus. by Juliana Perdomo. Abrams. ISBN 9781419744457. 
PreS-Gr 2–Ramón and El Cucuy share a bedroom, with El Cucuy making his home in a small cactus pot. After leaving their home for New York, these two unusual roommates begin to share their fears with one another. Fun, colorful illustrations bring to life a legendary creature from Latin American folklore, and paint fears and worries in a different light. The short text, mostly a conversation between the boy and El Cucuy, calmly explores the worries that come with changes, such as moving to a new city, starting at a new school, and making new friends. 

Malaika's Surprise by Nadia L. Hohn. illus. by Irene Luxbacher. Groundwood. ISBN 9781773062648.
K-Gr 2–Stepsisters Malaika and Adèle love dressing up and listening to soca music as they play carnival in the summer sunshine. When Malaika learns a baby sibling is on the way, she is not sure she is ready for yet another change, and worries that her mother will forget her. Bright colors appear on every page, reminding readers of the visuals inherent to the time of carnival, and a blend of textures and smooth lines give the images depth. Woven into the story are a handful of Arabic and French words that add richness to the narrative and are defined at the beginning.

 Run, Little Chaski: An Inka Trail Adventure by Maria Llanos. illus. by Mariana Ruiz Johnson. Barefoot Bks. ISBN 9781646861644.
K-Gr 3–On Little Chaski’s first day delivering messages, he must take a khipu bearing an important message from the Qoya (Queen) to the Inka (King). Little Chaski is nervous as he tries to deliver the missive before the sun sets, but as he runs through the Inka Trail, he bumps into numerous animals that cause him to stop. A wonderful introduction to and a celebration of the Inka that will pull readers in from the start.

Stella's Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises. Imprint. ISBN 9781250261779.
K-Gr 2–Stella, a young Afro-Latina, wakes up and is perturbed that her hair is not the way she wants it to be for the “Big Star Little Gala.” She runs to her mother to fix her hair but is not pleased; her mother suggests visits to her aunts, who may have different answers. Stella uses her hoverboard to navigate visiting the planets where her aunts live: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and more. This journey has grace, whimsy, and panache, tied up by an explosive array of colors and textures.

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales. illus. by Luisa Uribe. Random House Studio. ISBN 9781984893994.
Gr 1-3–DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient Morales’s book is based on her journey from Pueblo, Mexico, to New York as an undocumented immigrant at the age of six. A moving biographical picture book that would be a sensitive addition to the shelves of libraries, accompanying A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa and Coert Voorhees.

Lucero by Yuyi Morales. Holiday House/Neal Porter. ISBN 9780823447848. 
K-Gr 3–In this allegory, a young fawn is celebrated by her mother, encouraged to explore the world all around. As they walk through the desert together, they discover the plants and animals that are part of their world—butterflies, jaguars, bats, snakes, saguaros, and more. Their bright journey soon turns into one of panic and fear and just before being separated, the fawn’s mother warns her to be careful and encourages her to speak out—to shout to the world when she is suffering—and reminds her that she is not alone. Beautiful and impactful, this is a must-have for Spanish collections.

That Girl on TV Could Be Me!: The Journey of a Latina News Anchor by Leticia Ordaz. illus. by Juan Calle. Immedium. ISBN 9781597021517.
Gr 1-3–Ordaz, who grew up near Sacramento, CA, is the daughter of Mexican parents who immigrated to the United States to provide a better life for their family. As a young girl, Ordaz dreamed of working on TV but was shy. Her parents offered words of encouragement by advising her to work hard and attend college. A motivating picture book biography that will inspire children to pursue their dreams by working hard and overcoming challenges.

Bisa’s Carnaval by Joana Pastro. illus. by Carolina Coroa. Orchard. ISBN 9781338617627. 
Review pending: Discover the sights and sounds of Brazil through the eyes of a young girl and her great-grandmother as they share in the excitement of Carnaval! 

Coquí in the City. ISBN 9780593109038. 
De aquí como el coquí. tr. by Farah Perez. ISBN 9780593324073. 
ea vol: by Nomar Perez. illus. by Nomar Perez. Dial. 
PreS-Gr 2–When Miguel and his parents have to move to the U.S. mainland, he has to leave so much that he loves in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As he finds familiar things they loves—empanadillas, a baseball field, and even a pond full of frogs like Coquí—New York City begins to feel much more like home.

Hair Story by NoNieqa Ramos. illus. by Keisha Morris. Carolrhoda. ISBN 9781541579163. 
Review pending: With rhythmic, rhyming verse, this picture book follows two girls―one non-Black Puerto Rican, one Black―as they discover the stories their hair can tell. 

 Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos. illus by Jacqueline Alcántara. Versify. ISBN 9781328631886.
PreS-Gr 2–In a glowing tribute to mothers, here is one hip parent who spends quality time with her child. Illustrated banners throughout the tale begin with the words “Your Mama” and continue with a description which is pictured on the pages, such as, “Your Mama So Sweet,” “Your Mama So Strong,” and “Your Mama So Funny.” The rhythmic text is lively while vibrant, detailed illustrations reveal the many activities mother and daughter share, such as baking, road trips, birthday parties, and singing along with the car radio.

¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines by Dean Robbins. tr. by Georgina Lazaro. illus. by Eric Review pending: Velasquez. Candlewick. ISBN 978-1536206081; Spanish ed. ISBN 9781536213355.
New York City’s desegregated Palladium Ballroom springs to life with a diverse 1940s cast in this jazzy picture book tribute to the history of mambo and Latin jazz. 

Tag Team by Raúl the Third. Versify. ISBN 9780358380399.
K-Gr 2–Following their debut in Training Day, wrestling partners El Toro and La Oink Oink are back, and cleaning up has never been so much fun. The colorful, action-packed cartoon illustrations create a comic book geared toward a young audience who will get a kick out of following the two teammates and their cooperative efforts both inside and outside the wrestling ring.

¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge by Raúl the Third. Versify. ISBN 9780358380405.
Review pending: Little Lobo and Bernabé are back in this joyful story about coming together and celebrating community, a lively follow-up to ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat.

Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler. illus. by Raúl the Third & Elaine Bay. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316493222.
PreS-Gr 1–A routine outing transforms into a grand adventure with the help of a little imagination. Around the same time every day, which parents and caregivers will irrefutably recognize, “the inside feels too small for Sam,” a young and energetic toddler. After only a brief commotion and minor tantrum, Sam’s father has the child secured and ready for a ride on the “strollercoaster.” A joyful and oh-so relatable tale that will entertain and inspire readers.

 Nosotros Means Us: Un Cuento Bilingue by Paloma Valdivia. Knopf. ISBN 9780593305140.
PreS-Gr 2–This bilingual picture book opens with a mother sitting in a chair with her child. She tells her child the different words for their relationship if they were transformed into animals, e.g., horse and foal, fish and fry. A bilingual Runaway Bunny, this cements family bonds in gentle language and specific, poetic art.

 Alicia Alonso Dances On by Rose Viña. illus. by Gloria Félix. Albert Whitman. ISBN 9780807514542.
K-Gr 3–The inspirational life of Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso is shared with young readers in this lovingly illustrated beginning biography. The illustrations excellently depict Alicia’s dedication as well as the difficulties with her eyesight and will inspire readers to chase their dreams amid challenges and struggles. Highly recommended for biography collections and nonfiction picture book collections for children.

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