Whether your kids love food, music, crafts, or myths and legends, we’ve got a great collection of children’s books that go perfectly with Hispanic Heritage Month – or any time of the year!
A Kid’s Guide to Latino History: More Than 50 Activities by Valerie Petrillo. Chicago Review Press, 2009.
The ultimate book for exploring Latino history, A Kid’s Guide is more of a learning manual full of creative projects to capture your child’s interest and pride in their own heritage. It is broken down into 10 categories, beginning with Columbus’ discovery of the New World and working its way through the contributions and history of the various Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. Each chapter offers not only the history of a country or people, but also gives directions for creating a craft or recipe from that country. Best suited for children ages 8 and up. It is also available in a Kindle Edition.
¡Mexico! 40 Activities to Experience Mexico Past & Present by Susan Milord. Williamson Books, 1999.
Kids experience firsthand the customs, traditions, and cultures of Mexico through a variety of crafts and activities. From carving an ancient Olmec head, to building an Aztec step pyramid, to creating Day of the Dead sugar skulls (and then eating them!), children will enjoy these educational but fun hands-on activities. The book also asks important questions about poverty, pollution, feeling safe, education, and rural versus urban lifestyles. Children will discover how art served the needs of ancient peoples, and see how the past collides with the present every day in Mexico. Great for kids ages 6 to 12.
Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango. Charlesbridge Pub Inc, 2011.
Inside the pages of this unique story, readers can explore various types of Latin American music – from Colombia’s cumbia to the Dominican merengue to the candombé of Uruguay. Young Marisol is the narrator of this book. She helps out her Papi at his music store where people come in to buy their favorite songs. Interspersed throughout the book are brief poems told by each customer who enters the store to buy the music of their homeland. João is a fan of bossa nova, while Professor Soto prefers Andean tunes that he has heard played on a zampoña player. Mr. and Mrs. Mayer are tango dancers, but young Gabriel loves the vallenatos of Colombia. Written in English with some embedded Spanish text. Ages 4 and up.
An Illustrated Treasury of Latino Read-Aloud Stories: The World’s Best-Loved Stories for Parent and Child to Share edited by Maite Suarez-Rivas. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2004.
An Illustrated Treasury of Latino Read-Aloud Stories is a beautiful and unique collection of 28 stories that truly reflect our Latino history, culture, and traditions. Suarez-Rivas has divided the book into five sections: Myths and Legends of Pre-Columbian Cultures, Fables and Riddles, Fairy Tales and Stories, History, and Spanish-American Literature of More Recent Times. Each section contains a diversity of material from Latin America that is rich in imagination and steeped in cultural folklore. Written with full text in both English and Spanish. Ages 7 and up.
Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! Americas’ Sproutings written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Lee & Low Books, 2007.
Mora’s first book of haiku poetry introduces 14 types of food native to the Americas. From vanilla to arándano rojo to chocolate, readers will relish Mora’s simple verse and López’s rich illustrations. Together they create a beautiful work of literary art. In addition to the haikus, a brief history accompanies each food, which lends an additional educational element to the book. It is available in English or Spanish. Ages 6 and up.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.