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Hi! I’m a G/T Bilingual teacher (EC-6th), passionate about bilingual/dual language education and language learning.
This list contains books that celebrate, highlight and embrace the Hispanic culture, I also thought it was important to add books about self-esteem, empowerment and empathy. Most importantly, I looked for books that inspire our students to become great leaders and that were culturally relevant. I hope that these books inspire them and that they know that they are important! Enjoy!
TIP FOR TEACHERS: If you have an awesome school librarian like I do, give this list to her and/or check your local library to see how many books you can check out. If you want them for your personal library, simply click on the links and get them on amazon, you can see a list of all the books we have added so far here.
When you see this 🏫, it means we have a great activity to accompany this book!
1. ¡Todos a Celebrar! (Bilingual) by Dr. Ma. Alma González Pérez
This Hispanic customs & traditions alphabet bilingual book highlights different cultures in each page. Its purpose is twofold: to build background about Hispanic customs and traditions and to provide further discussion or extension of learning.
It also includes a picture glossary of cultural objects and a Hispanic countries map extension of learning.
2. Side by Side/Lado a Lado by Monica Brown
The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. This book introduces Dolores and Cesar as children and connects their early life experiences to the decisions they made as they grew up. You can use this as a mentor text to teach compare and contrast of the lives of two important leaders who collaborated for change.
3. Yo Puedo Hacer Cosas Difíciles: Afirmaciones Conscientes Para Niños by Gabi Garcia
Gabi Garcia, the author, is a school counselor that writes about feelings and empowering kids. This book focuses on choosing kindness, practicing peace and sharing their gifts with the world. This book is important because it encourages kids to be themselves and it reflects culturally diverse kids. This book is also available in English.
4. Soñadores by Yuyi Morales
This is the beautiful story of Yuyi and her son when they migrated to the United States. It not only has beautifully art but it also captures the journey to traveling to a new place. Like many of us, she did not bring materials things, but she brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and her dreams.
Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi didn’t speak English at the time. Together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of a new strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.
It’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. This book is also available in English.
5.Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
This book is not in Spanish but it was too important not too share. It is the story of Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English but was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
Students will relate to Sylvia Mendez’s feelings. The book also showed that her parents had to work hard to secure justice for her, and that they didn’t give up.
6. La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papá (bilingual) by Deborah Mills
This book reflects some of our stories. I can’t help to think back to the summer when news came that Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, a native of El Salvador, attempted to cross the Rio Grande from Matamoros to an area near Brownsville, Texas, with his 23-month-old daughter and died in the process.
This book humanizes and compassionately teaches about immigration, in both English and Spanish!
The bilingual text shows respect to the real people described in the story and makes the story available to young readers. It also prompts a discussion on immigration and encourages building understanding and community.
7. Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History by Naibe Reynoso (Bilingual)
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to win this book on an instagram giveaway. This book should be in every classroom! It is empowering and inspiring and a book where my students can be reflected while learning about amazing women.
8. Bringing Back History: An Untold Story of the Mexican Repatriation by Elsie Guerrero
The biggest takeaway of this true story is the importance and responsibility to guide our students to be leaders they are, to use their voice and to be change makers we need in our community. A 5th grade class in California was able to pass a bill. Their research got them to meet assembly member Cristina Garcia, who introduced a bill to make schools teach the Mexican Repatriation during the Great Depression.This book can encourage other children to find their voice and make a difference. 15% of the proceeds will go towards the Ayudando a la Juventud Scholarship Foundation.
9. Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo (Bilingual) by Monica Brown
It wasn’t a hard choice to add another book by the same author to this list, I also love My name is Celia and My name is Gabito: The life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez that is why I have Monica Brown’s books twice on this list #2 In this vibrant bilingual picture book biography of musician Tito Puente, readers will dance along to the beat of this mambo king’s life. Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards—and all the beats in between—this is the true life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the “King of Mambo.”
Monica is inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children.
10. El día en que descubres quién eres (Spanish Edition) by Jacqueline Woodson
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
Find the English version here.
11. Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle
Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, Bravo!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!
Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera.
12. Pio Peep! Rimas Tradicionales en Español by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Passed down from generation to generation, the twenty-nine rhymes included have been lovingly selected by distinguished authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. English adaptations by Alice Schertle capture the spirit of each rhyme and have a charm all their own. Accompanied by enchanting illustrations by Spanish artist Viví Escrivá, this collection is destined to become a beloved classic for children already familiar with the rhymes as well as those encountering them for the first time.
The perfect bilingual collection of traditional rhymes that celebrates childhood and Spanish and Latin American heritage.
13. Lola by Junot Díaz
This is a tactful and lovely story of culture, identity, and belonging from the perspective of a little girl that left her island when she was very young. It is a glimpse into the world of immigrants who don’t remember their place of birth. Junot Diaz, the author, was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. It will inspire our students to write and share their own immigrant experiences about their families.
This is the Spanish edition of Island born.
14. Biographies (Lil’ Libros) by Patty Rodriguez
Evita, Cantinflas, Frida, Celia, all geared for younger readers (Pre-k-1st) while introducing them to numbers, colors, shapes. Lil’ Libros celebrates Latin American culture and important figures in its history. You will also love to know that they are working on a new series called Vámonos where they will introduce different cities in Latin America.
15. ¿De dónde eres?: Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez
This resonant picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. 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.
16. Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo
I remember when I first came across this book a few years ago. I was ecstatic to find the nursery rhymes I grew up in Colombia on a bilingual book with beautiful illustrations accompanied with full episodes and videos on Nick Jr.
From learning stations to poems and comprehension passages, here are some of our highlights for fall!