National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the culture, contributions, and history of people from Latin America and Spain and their descendants every year from September 15 to October 15. Here at Cardinal Rule Press, we are celebrating the month by looking at some of our favorite picture books featuring Latinx characters!
Best Book About Family
Abuela’s visits from Mexico are always full of excitement for young Sabrina. She can’t wait to see what’s in her grandmother’s yellow suitcase covered in stickers from all the places she has visited. Opening it is like opening a treasure chest, and this year is no different. Inside are a host of riches: colorful ribbons, a clay whistle shaped like a bird, a drum, and the strong smell of chocolate.
“Abuelita, do you want to play a game? Let’s pretend that I’m a princess,” Sabrina says. “Okay, Sabrina,” Abuela says, “but a Mayan princess should wear a beautiful dress called a huipil.” And she pulls the traditional garment worn by Mayan and Aztec women from her suitcase.
Sabrina has lots of questions about her ancestors. Did Mayan princesses have money? Did they go to school? Did they eat chocolate ice cream? With her grandmother’s help, Sabrina learns all about the cacao tree, which was first cultivated by Mexico’s indigenous tribes. Today, seeds from the cacao tree give us chocolate, but years ago the seeds were so valuable they were used as money. And Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, liked to eat chocolate poured over bowls of snow brought from the mountains!
Sabrina discovers that “chocolate is perfect for a Mayan princess.” And children ages 4-8 are sure to agree as they curl up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and this charming bilingual picture book that depicts a loving relationship between grandmother and granddaughter and shares the history and customs of the native peoples of Mexico.
RAINBOW WEAVER/TEJEDORA DEL ARCOIRIS BY LINDA ELOVITZ MARSHALL (AUTHOR), ELISA CHAVARRI (ILLUSTRATOR)
Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for market. If they bring a good price, they will have money to pay for Ixchel’s school and books. And besides, there is not enough extra thread for Ixchel to practice with.
Disappointed, Ixchel first tries weaving with blades of grass, and then with bits of wool, but no one would want to buy the results. As she walks around her village, Ixchel finds it littered with colorful plastic bags. There is nowhere to put all the bags, so they just keep accumulating.
Suddenly, Ixchel has an idea! She collects and washes the plastic bags. Then she cuts each bag into thin strips. Sitting at her loom, Ixchel weaves the plastic strips into a colorful fabric that looks like a beautiful rainbow just like the weavings of Mayan women before her.
Best Book About Identity
This resonant and award-winning picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom—a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo.
When a girl is asked where she’s from—where she’s really from—none of her answers seems to be the right one.
Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn’t give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.
Where am I from?
You’re from hurricanes and dark storms, and a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep….
With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds and of all colors—especially anyone who ever felt that they don’t belong.
Best Board Book
Everyone has kisses for Baby, from Mami and Papi to perro and gato. Using simple Spanish words, this charming read-aloud proves that love is the same in every language! Parents won’t be able to resist giving baby muchos besos as they share this bilingual read aloud, filled with bold, graphic illustrations, with their little bébé!
Best Beginning Chapter Book
Lola Levine likes writing in her diario, sipping her mom’s cafe con leche, eating her dad’s matzo ball soup, and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. So what if she doesn’t always fit in?
Lola is fierce on the field, but when a soccer game during recess gets too competitive, she accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine! Lola feels terrible, but with the help of her family, her super best friend, Josh Blot, and a little “pencil power,” she just might be able to turn it all around.
In this first book in a series, young readers will be inspired by Lola’s big heart and creative spirit as she learns to navigate the second grade in true Lola style!
Whether you’re looking to celebrate your own history and culture or learn about another’s this Hispanic Heritage Month, starting off with these vibrant and fun picture books is a great way to get the whole family excited!
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Martina Rethman is an editorial intern with Cardinal Rule Press. She is currently a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.