Black History: Latin America and the Caribbean

These stories shine a spotlight on Black immigrants, national heroes, and historic figures who hail from Latin America or the Caribbean. Many of the stories address the prejudices that celebrated figures such as Martín de Porres, Roberto Clemente, and Celia Cruz had to overcome throughout their lifetime. Others depict the special traditions and memories that immigrants remember with nostalgia.

To see related resources, take a look at more Afro-Latinx titles for kids and teens recommended by School Library Journal, Reading Rockets' Stories from Haiti, from and Black in Latin America, a four-part PBS series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Angelina's Island

Age Level: 3-6

Every day, Angelina tells her mother she wants to go home. Not to their new city home, cold and gray and unfamiliar — but their old island home, sunny and colorful and filled with rainbow-colored fruits and birds. Angelina believes she'll never feel at home in this new place, until her mother finds a wonderful surprise in the newspaper. A beautiful tribute to the traditions of the West Indies, Carnival, and the longing for home that young immigrants will recognize immediately.

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

Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 6-9

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule — until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Drummer Boy of John John

Illustrated by: Frané Lessac
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Carnival is coming, and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready to celebrate. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis — tasty fried pancakes filled with chicken, herbs, and spices — for the best band in the parade. Young Winston dreams of feasting on those delicious rotis. But there's a problem: he's not in a band! Pondering his predicament as he wanders through the village junkyard, Winston makes a curious musical discovery that may be just the ticket to realizing his dream.

For the Love of Soccer!

By: Pelé
Illustrated by: Frank Morrison
Age Level: 6-9

"In first-person narration, Pelé describes his lifetime passion for the game, which began in childhood…Morrison's vibrant, energetic illustrations depict a dual story. Each two-page spread features vignettes from Pelé's career on one page (subtly aging their subject over the course of the book), while the facing page reveals a parallel story line of a modern-day child learning to love the game. The vivid pictures, featuring slightly elongated figures and tilted perspectives, convey all the energy of this universal sport." — Kirkus Reviews

Grandma's Records

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengüe — the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico — sharing her memories and passions with Eric. Join Eric Velasquez on a magical journey through time and across cultures, as a young boy's passion for music and art is forged by a powerful bond between generations.

Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert

Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 6-9

Martin and his sister grew up in a Lima, Peru barrio, children of an African slave and a Spanish nobleman. Martin was apprenticed to a cirujano, would join a Dominican monastery, and later become sought after as a healer. Jewel-like illustrations complement the accessible telling to reveal a man of faith and courage, who, despite the prejudices he confronted, would become the first black saint of the Americas. Pura Belpré Award Winner for Illustration.

Nina Bonita

Illustrated by: Rosana Faria
Age Level: 3-6

This delightful book is set on a Caribbean island and features a little white rabbit who admires a beautiful black girl. He asks her what her secret is and she tells him to drink lots of black coffee and to eat lots of black beans. He doesn't give up though and in the end finds what change he can make.

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9

This moving tribute is the perfect introduction to Roberto Clemente. Readers will learn of his humble beginnings, the challenges he faced in a new country, and his unprecedented accomplishments as one of the greatest baseball players in history. Even more importantly, readers will come to understand the way that Clemente's generosity shaped so much of his life — and his untimely death. Raúl Colón's impressionistic yet evocative illustrations enhance the emotional impact of the text.

Serafina's Promise

Age Level: 9-12

11-year-old Serafina lives in the rural mountains of Haiti, helping her mother and grandmother with chores and hauling water up to the house each day. Secretly, however, Serafina wishes to go to school and become a doctor. Yet when the rains wash away their house and the 2010 earthquake strikes in Port-au-Prince, where her father works, the possibility of attending school seem even more tenuous — but Serafina isn't ready to give her dreams up yet. Ann Burg's lyrical, award-winning story is told in free verse with Haitian proverbs and French and Creole phrases woven throughout.

What a Party!

Age Level: 3-6

If it is just a few days until your birthday, and your mother says you can invite anyone you like to come over to play, be careful! In a celebration of festive neighbors, an open-ended party invitation results in a raucous gathering of children, pets, and parents (plus salsa dancers and a reggae band!), all feasting on food from all over the world. This is a humorous and irresistibly joyful cautionary tale.

Yes! We Are Latinos

Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Juanita lives in New York and is Mexican. Felipe lives in Chicago and is Panamanian, Venezuelan, and black. Michiko lives in Los Angeles and is Peruvian and Japanese. Each of them is also Latino. Thirteen young Latinos and Latinas living in America are introduced in this book celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino and Latina experience in the United States through free-verse fictional narratives.