5 children’s biography books for Hispanic Heritage Month

More and more Latinos are realizing the value of telling our stories to find their way into our history books and classes. With the premiere of the docu-series Latino Americans on PBS this month, we can finally see a serious look into the contributions of Latinos to American history over the last 500 years.

But what about our children? They need to see these stories, too, in the books that they read and the stories they hear. Below are five Latino children’s biographies to introduce your child to some famous Latinos who have influenced our society.

Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael López. Rayo, 2013.

The story of puertorriqueño Ernesto Antonio Puente — better known as “Tito” — the jazz and salsa composer and musician who is best known as the Mambo King! Your child will love the rhythm and movement found on each page of this beautifully illustrated picture book. Lopez captures the vibrancy of the Latino culture and merges it with Tito’s musical artistry. Together with Brown’s lyrical storytelling, this book is an inspiration and joy to read aloud.

Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez by Monica Brown and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Rayo, 2010.

This bilingual picture book tells the story of both Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. The book starts off chronicling Huerta’s and Chavez’s childhoods and the events that ignited their social conscience. In the middle of the book, the two activists meet and begin their fight for better working conditions and higher pay for migrant workers. Cepeda’s colorful illustrations enrich the story line and capture the heart of the message. This is a great book for introducing your child to Chavez and Huerta, as well as to the issues surrounding farm workers.

The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre. L33 & Low Books, 2012.

The story of Pura Belpré, New York’s first Latina librarian, after whom the Pura Belpré Award for Latino children’s literature is named. This book tells you about Belpré through the eyes of two children  from Puerto Rico. Your child will learn about how Belpré engaged the Latino community in New York by using her gift as a storyteller and puppeteer to bring families together with stories. Delacre’s illustrations capture the time period and includes collage elements using a copy of the New York Times from January 6th (Día de los Reyes), 1930.

Good Night Captain Mama: Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato and illustrated by Linda Lens. Gracefully Global Group LLC, 2013.

It’s time to talk about Latinas in the military and Captain Mama does the job. This groundbreaking bilingual book is based on the author’s own experience and is a special treat for not only military families, but also for the Latino community as a whole. The lovely story is about a young boy and his mother, who happens to serve in the U.S. Air Force. One night as she gets ready to leave for work, this military mami patiently answers all her son’s questions. Marco wants to know all about what his mother does at work and what the patches on her uniform represent. His mami uses the patches to help him – and the reader! – understand what it is like to serve in the U.S. Air Force.

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers and illustrated by Julie Maren. Puffin, 2007.

Veronica Chambers provides a glimpse into Cruz’s childhood and her inspiring rise to worldwide fame in this moving tribute to the Queen of Salsa. Cruz’s vibrant and inspirational life story is beautifully captured in the bold and colorful illustrations. The author even includes a selected discography at the end of the book with ten songs from the most distinct periods in her career.

RELATED: Using Hispanic Heritage Month to boost your child’s self-esteem

5 childrens biography books for Hispanic Heritage Month monica olivera nbc parenting family NBC Latino News

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.

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