34 Latinx Books for Kids: From Early Readers to Young Adults


34 Latinx Books for Kids: From Early Readers to Young Adults

Steeped in culture and exploring universal themes, here are books by and/or about Latinxs perfect for students in elementary, middle, and high school. Classrooms should be filled with a vast diversity of books so that students can find themselves in the protagonists they are reading about. These Latinx books feature Latinx characters that will have wide appeal. 

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Latinx Picture Books

1. The Streets are Free

by Kurusa and illustrated Monika Doppert

Latinx books: The Streets Are Free

Get it HERE.

The children of San Jose de la Urbina ask the mayor for permission to use an empty lot as a playground instead of running around on the streets. The mayor delivers only empty promises, so the children take matters into their own hands and recruit friends and neighbors to help them create the play space of their dreams. This is based on a true story. 

2. The Storyteller’s Candle

by Lucia Gonzalez and illustrated by Lulu Delacre 

Latinx books: The Storyteller's Candle

Get it HERE.

This is a bilingual biography of Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian through the eyes of two Puerto Rican boys. The boys, who have only recently come to live in New York City, are surprised and delighted when Belpré visits their classroom to explain that libraries are for everyone. 

3. Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

by Duncan Tonatiuh 

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

Get it HERE.

José de la Luz Sáenz is a teacher at heart, but when World War I breaks out, he joins the United States army and quickly distinguishes himself for his ability to learn languages. In spite of this, he faces prejudice both overseas and at home, as a veteran. He joins together with other Mexican American veterans to create the League of United Latin American Citizens.

4. Sofi and the Magical, Musical Mural

by Raquel M. Ortiz and illustrated by Maria Dominguez

Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural

Get it HERE.

Sofi loves walking past the giant mural depicting life in Puerto Rico. One day, she stops and looks closely. It seems like one of the dancers in the mural is beckoning to her. She dances along playfully and is suddenly transported inside the mural itself into a fantastic world. 

5. Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Latinx books: Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

Get it HERE.

 This picture book biography is about Teresa Carreño, a young pianist who grows up in Venezuela. A political revolution causes her family to seek refugee in the United States, though that refugee is clouded by the Civil War. In spite of the fighting all around her, Carreño continues playing piano and is eventually invited to the White House to play for President Lincoln. 

6. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Get it HERE.

The Drum Dream Girl is Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a young Chinese-Cuban-African girl who ignored the Cuban taboo prohibiting women from playing the drums. In the story, the Drum Dream Girl plays in secret until her music is so powerful that everyone dances to her beat. 

7. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Raúl Colón

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Get it HERE.

This picture book is a collection of 20 biographies of notable Hispanic and Latino men and women who have made exemplary contributions to our culture. Readers will recognize names such as Cesar Chavez and Sonia Sotomayor. At 96 pages, it’s quite a bit longer than a traditional fiction picture book. The accompanying illustrations add quite a lot to the text. 

8. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

by Duncan Tonatiuh

Latinx books: Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Get it HERE.

Most Americans learn about Brown versus the Board of Education in school, but they probably didn’t learn about the Mendez Family who fight against segregation in California seven years prior to the Supreme Court ruling. Sylvia Mendez cannot understand why she is forced to attend a separate Mexican school. The family files a lawsuit and ultimately brings about desegregation in California schools. 

9. The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung

by Samantha R. Vamos, illus. by Sebastià Serra

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung

Get it HERE.

A young girl create a piñata for a surprise birthday party with the help of some farm animals. This picture book is designed to teach young readers new Spanish words as the text builds upon and repeats itself. Each time it does, an English word is replaced with a Spanish one. Directions for making a piñata at home are included. 

Latinx Books for Middle Grades 

10. Merci Suarez Changes Gears

by Meg Medina

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Get it HERE.

Merci Suárez is struggling in school and at home. In school, she has started sixth grade, where she stands out from the other private school kids because she’s on scholarship. At home, Merci’s beloved grandfather is showing his age and starting to forget things. Merci is especially frustrated because everyone looks at her like she’s just a kid and no one will tell her what’s going on. 

11. The Smoking Mirror

by David Bowles

Latinx books: The Smoking Mirror

Get it HERE.

Twins Carol and Johnny Garza know nothing other than that their mother disappeared. They are shipped off to Mexico to live with their relatives when they learn that their mother is a shapeshifter. They, too, have shapeshifting powers and must figure out how to use them in order to rescue their mother.

12. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

by Pablo Cartaya 

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

Get it HERE.

Thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora loves the relaxation that comes with summertime – but it’s noticeably absent this year. A land developer moves in and threatens to change Arturo’s community, so he figures out a way to use his voice to protest the new development. 

13. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba

by Margarita Engle 

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba

Get it HERE.

The Firefly Letters is based on the true story of women’s activist Fredrika Bremer. Bremer visits Cuba in 1851 and runs up against many restrictions facing women in Cuban society. She befriends several other women and together they sneak out to explore the countryside. Bremer’s time in Cuba greatly influenced the work she did for the rest of her life.  

14. The Dreamer

by Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrated by Peter Sis

The Dreamer

Get it HERE.

In a novel weeping with magical realism, author Pam Munoz Ryan gives us the character of Neftalí, a young boy who hears a voice. He faces ridicule and disbelief, yet he follows the voice. This is the story of the boy who grows up to become Pablo Neruda.

15. The First Rule of Punk

by Celia C. Pérez

Latinx books: The First Rule of Punk

Get it HERE.

Malú fails pretty badly on her first day at her new school, offending everyone with her punk look and, Mean Girls-style, stepping on the toes of the most popular girl in school. Her dad tells her to just remember – be yourself. 

16. Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller

by Xavier Garza 

Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel

Get it HERE.

Maximilian is crazy for Mexican wrestling, called Lucha libra. As luck would have it, one day Max falls over the railing at a wrestling match and straight into the path of famed wrestler the Guardian Angel. This book is published in a bilingual format. 

17. The Moon Within

by Aida Salazar 

The Moon Within

Get it HERE.

Celi Rivera explores what it means to be a young girl coming of age today. She finds herself attracted to boys for the first time. Her best friend is genderfluid. Her body is changing. Celi’s mother is excited about Celi’s first period so her daughter can take place in the traditional Moon Ceremony, but Celi is not comfortable with this idea at all. 

18. Hurricane Dancers

by Margarita Engle 

Latinx books: Hurricane Dancers

Get it HERE.

Quebrado sails the seas as a pirate captive. He is useful to Captain Bernardino de Talavera as a translator. But opportunity disguised as tragedy strikes – a hurricane sinks the ship, and only Quebrado escapes. 

19. They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems

by David Bowles

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems

Get it HERE.

Güero is a word nerd at heart. He is comfortable speaking and writing in both Spanish and English, and he’s lucky enough to have a teacher who makes poetry cool. Güero copes with the normal trials and tribulations of middle school by writing poetry. 

20. Lucky Broken Girl 

by Ruth Behar

Lucky Broken Girl

Get it HERE.

Ruthie is a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant living in New York City when a terrible car crash leaves her bedridden in a body cast. Ruthie’s world turns inward and she explores painting and writing as she struggles to cope with the tragedy that befell her. Lucky Broken Girl is loosely based on the author’s own experiences. 

21. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

Get it HERE.

This is middle-grade sci-fi with a very fun Cuban influence, and it is the first of two Sal and Gabi books. Sal, a magician, can alter space and time. Gabi, a clever girl with a sharp eye and the ability to take things in stride, becomes Sal’s partner in crime, and together, the very nearly destroy the time-space continuum. 

22. We Set the Dark On Fire

by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on Fire

Get it HERE.

Daniela Vargas is a student at the Medio School for Girls where she receives training befitting any society wife. After graduation, she’s faced with an unexpected choice – become a wife and mother, as expected, or join the underground resistance fighters working for social equality. 

YA LatinX Books

23. The Queen of Water

by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango

Latinx books: The Queen of Water

Get it HERE.

Virginia, who is born in Equador, is taken from her home at seven years old, sent to live as a servant with people she doesn’t know. She grows up in a wealthy household where she faces deeply rooted classism and racism. Slowly, Virginia educates herself and learns to read, determined to find her place in the world. This is based on a true story. 

24. Tree Girl

by Ben Mikaelsen 

Tree Girl

Get it HERE.

Gabriela, or Gabi, loves to climb the trees of the Guatemalan forest. One day, high in her perch, the witnesses the unbelievable massacre of her people. She climbs down and sets out toward the Mexican border with other refugees, vowing to give up climbing trees forever. 

25. Patron Saints of Nothing

by Randy Ribay 

Patron Saints of Nothing

Get it HERE.

When senior Jay Reguero learns that his cousin Jun has been killed in the Philippines, he thinks something feels off. When his dad says Jun was killed because he was doing drugs, Jay knows something is wrong. He makes an impulsive decision to spend spring break in the Philippines trying to find out the truth about what happened to his cousin. 

26. With the Fire on High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

Get it HERE.

Emoni Santiago is determined to not let her teen pregnancy stop her from graduating and making a good life for herself and her daughter. She dreams of being a chef but knows this is not a realistic way to make money, but when a cooking elective is offered at school, she can’t help but sign up. Soon, the opportunity of a lifetime arises in the form of a class trip to Spain, but how will she ever be able to afford it?

27. Parrot in the Oven

by Victor Martinez and illustrated Steve Scott

Parrot in the Oven

Get it HERE.

Manny Hernandez is fourteen and wants respect. But when your father is abusive and your brother is a lowlife who can’t keep a job and you are so close to poverty that you are one step away from the streets, respect is hard to find. Manny knows that joining a gang would get him the cred he’s looking for, but is it worth it?

28. All the Stars Denied

by Guadalupe Garcia McCall 

All he Stars Denied

Get it HERE.

During the Great Depression, racism toward Mexican-Americans ran high. Tired of the hate, Estrella protests the racism and is soon driven across the border with her mother and baby brother. Her fight against racism soon becomes a fight against life and death – and she’s not sure how to reconcile the fact that the people directing so much hate toward her are her own countrymen. 

29. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

by Sonia Manzano 

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Get it HERE.

We know author Sonia Manzano best as Maria from Sesame Street. Here, she tackles an older subject matter in a really amazing young adult novel about Evelyn Serrano, who lives in New York’s Spanish Harlem in 1969. Overnight, a protest erupts and Evelyn’s family is drawn into the conflict. Evelyn learns to embrace her heritage and stand up for what she believes in. 

30. The Radius of Us

by Marie Marquardt 

The Radius of Us

Get it HERE.

Teens Gretchen and Phoenix are each dealing with the aftermath of trauma. Gretchen was violently mugged on the street, and Phoenix, an immigrant from El Salvador, is fleeing gang violence and in danger of being deported. The Radius of Us is a romance story but it also delves deeply into issues of gang violence, cultural bias, and mental health. 

31. The Poet X

by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Get it HERE.

Xiomara Batista, an Afro-Latina, lives in modern-day Harlem. Nobody listens to what Xiomara has to say, so she becomes a fighter and makes them. Her strict mother has time only for the church and wants Xiomara to act like a proper young lady. But Xio longs to be a poet, to give voice to the thoughts in her head. 

32. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

by Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Get it HERE.

Piddy Sanchez, a Latina, moves to a new school and is quickly told by other girls that someone called Yaqui Delgado wants to fight her. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yacqui is, but as the bullying escalates, Piddy doesn’t know what to do. Does she close down, or does she stand up for herself once and for all?

33. Dealing in Dreams

by Lilliam Rivera 

Latinx books: Dealing in Dreams

Get it HERE.

This dystopian novel follows Nalah as she leads the girls of Mega City, but Nalah secretly dreams of a life off the streets. Soon, the opportunity presents itself, but is she willing to do the unspeakable to attain her goal but lose herself in the process?

34. The Universal Laws of Marco

by Carmen Rodrigues

The Universal Laws of Marco

Get it HERE.

Marco Suarez’s carefully organized life is threatened when the first girl he kissed back in eighth grade resurfaces. He tells himself it’s too late – he has a girlfriend and he’s about to go to college on a full-ride scholarship. But still. That first spark tugs at him and will not be denied. 

Tag @BoredTeachers on social media to share your favorite Latinx books.

Other Book Lists From Amy’s Bookshelf You’ll Love:

34 Latinx Books for Kids: From Early Readers to Young Adults

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AuthorAmy

Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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