Family & Friends: Hispanic Heritage

These books celebrate the strong sense of family that is such a rich part of Latino and Latin American communities, from quiet moments together to big family reunions!

A Birthday Basket for Tía

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Cecily Lang
Age Level: 0-3

Cecilia and her cat, Chica, create a special birthday present for her great-aunt's 90th birthday — a basket filled with things Cecilia and her tía have shared. This affectionate autobiographical story is illustrated with warm colors, suggestive of Mexican American traditions.

Dear Primo

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: From Mexican author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh comes the story of two cousins, one in America and one in Mexico, and how their daily lives are different yet similar. Charlie takes the subway to school; Carlitos rides his bike. Charlie plays in fallen leaves; Carlitos plays among the local cacti. Dear Primo covers the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of two very different childhoods, while also emphasizing how alike Charlie and Carlitos are at heart.

Family Pictures

Age Level: 6-9

The artist recalls growing up in south Texas in this celebration of family and cultural traditions presented in vivid paintings and short prose in Spanish and English. Garza's pride in her Mexican-American heritage is evident and celebrated in this handsome book.

Family, Familia

Illustrated by: Pauline Rodriguez Howard
Age Level: 6-9

"In this bilingual picture book, Daniel Gonzalez goes to a family reunion in San Antonio, TX, expecting it to be dull. Instead, he finds himself enjoying a Tex-Mex feast, making a new friend in a cousin his age, and learning the importance of family. Spanish words and phrases are scattered throughout the English text, and vice versa." — School Library Journal

Fiesta Dress: A Quinceañera Tale

Illustrated by: Martha Aviles
Age Level: 6-9

On the day of her big sister Eva's quinceañera, everyone is too busy to notice Lolo. The upbeat acrylics and liquid watercolor capture the excitement and gaiety of the family gathering and this special occasion.

Good Night Captain Mama

Illustrated by: Linda Lens
Age Level: 6-9

A little boy is walking to his bedroom when he notices his mother in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane. He drifts off to sleep with thoughts of his mommy in the airplane and the special surprise she gives him. This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. Bilingual text.

Hairs/Pelitos

Illustrated by: Terry Ybàñez
Age Level: 3-6

"Everybody in our family has different hair," begins this loving celebration of diversity among family members. Papa's hair is like a broom, Nenny's hair is slippery, and Mama's hair looks like rosettes and smells like warm bread. Terry Ybàñez's colorful illustrations, bordered by imaginative drawings, capture the uniqueness of each family member and their joy in being together.

If the Shoe Fits

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: Terry Widener
Age Level: 6-9

"Rigo lives in a crowded house with his four siblings, his parents, and his uncle. Accustomed to hand-me-downs, he is thrilled when he gets new shoes for his ninth birthday. He loves them until a neighborhood kid makes fun of them and takes the nickels from the slots in the loafers. The shoes are stashed away until Rigo needs them for a party but finds they no longer fit. Fortunately, he realizes that his uncle could use them for his new job as a waiter. This is a gentle and honest story about a close-knit Mexican-American family." — School Library Journal

In My Family

Age Level: 6-9

Kingsville, on the border of Mexico and Texas, comes to life in words and pictures in this book. Readers will share the simple joys of eating, dancing, and celebrating as the artist remembers her own childhood. Her stories, presented in both English and Spanish, are accompanied by her bright paintings.

Let Me Help!

Illustrated by: Angela Domínguez
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: "Let me help! Let me help!" Perico learns this phrase from little Martita, who's been saying it a lot lately. When the whole family scrambles to prepare for Cinco de Mayo, Perico knows there must be some way he can help — even if he is just a parrot. But at every turn Perico is shooed away, until he finally figures out how he can add to the Cinco de Mayo fun.

Love, Amalia

By: Pat Mora
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Amalia's best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia's abuelita have a way of making everything a little bit brighter. But when another loss racks Amalia's life, nothing makes sense anymore. In her sorrow, will Amalia realize just how special she is, even when the ones she loves are no longer near?

Magda's Tortillas

Illustrated by: Anne Vega
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Even at the advanced age of seven, Magda Madrigal can remember back to when she was a little girl and would watch her abuela making tortillas. Having studied techniques of a master, she now feels confident of her own ability to turn out beautiful, delicious, and round tortillas. But somehow the rolling pin and the kitchen still hold a few surprises for the perplexed Magda and for her delighted family. Great art isn't always pretty, but in the case of "tortilla artist" Magda Madrigal, at least it's tasty!

Mayeros: A Yucatec Maya Family

Age Level: 6-9

Visit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to meet several generations of Mayan Indians, learn a bit about their history, culture, and contemporary life in this riveting portrait in pictures and words.

My Pal, Victor

Illustrated by: Robert Sweetland
Age Level: 6-9

Dominic and Victor are friends who share stories, jokes, and games and cheer each other on. At the end of the book, readers discover something special — the boys don't let the fact that Victor is in a wheelchair get in their way of having fun! Colorful illustrations bring this simple yet thoughtful story to life. Winner of ALA's 2004 Schneider Family Award.

My Very Own Room

Illustrated by: Maya Christina Gonzalez
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: The young Mexican American girl at the center of this charming book loves her family — five younger brothers, her two parents, and several visiting relatives — but in such a crowded house, she can never seem to find a moment alone. Told in both English and Spanish, this boldly illustrated title based on the author's childhood delivers the inspiring story of a California family that pulled together to give a young girl her own corner of the world.

Next to Mexico

Age Level: 9-12

"Lylice has skipped a year and is new to Susan B. Anthony Middle School in her hometown of Tucson. Worried about making friends, the sixth grader becomes the English Buddy to Mexico, a student from Nogales who lives with her aunt and is a talented artist…When Mexico is hospitalized because her aunt is about to be unemployed and can't afford her niece's insulin, the girls finagle a job interview for her by forging a letter on stolen school stationery. Then, because of a boy on whom she has a crush, Lylice hurts her friend's feelings.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale

Age Level: 6-9

When the rains don't come in the spring, Papá Rabbit sets out north to work in the carrot and lettuce fields. He doesn't return when expected, however, and his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, embarks on a journey to find his father. He meets a coyote who agrees to show him a shortcut, but only in exchange for Pancho's food. After an exhausting journey, Pancho is left with nothing — except the hope of finding his father. An author's note provides extensive information and recommended resources. Winner 2014 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Honor Award.

Salsa Stories

Age Level: 6-9

When Carmen Teresa receives a blank journal on New Year's Day, she begins filling it with tales and memories from her loved ones. Finding that food is the common thread, the journal becomes a cookbook of stories, infused with Latin American flavor. Gentle lessons are conveyed along the way in this lovely book. Available in Spanish and English versions.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Age Level: 9-12

When Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, was forbidden from enrolling in her local school, her parents organized a lawsuit that eventually brought the end of school segregation in California seven years before Brown vs. Board of Education. Based on interviews with Sylvia Mendez, as well as court files and news reports, award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings the Mendez family's story to life in this compelling title that remains as relevant today as it was in 1947. A glossary and an author's note are included.

Snapshots from the Wedding

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: Stephanie Garcia
Age Level: 3-6

"Soto takes readers to a Mexican American nuptial, and young Maya, the flower girl, is the lens through which the action is seen…Created with Sculpy clay, acrylic paints, wood, ribbons, and flowers, the art is displayed in large boxes set against pages covered with lace. The doll-like members of the wedding are exaggerated just enough to be amusing; at times, just a body part or two are highlighted, as when Maya's feet are shown on top of her father's while they dance." — Booklist

The Best Mariachi in the World

Illustrated by: Dani Jones
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Everyone in Gustavo's family is in a mariachi band…Everyone except Gustavo, that is. They all play violines, trompetas and guitarrones. They all make wonderful music in restaurants and at wedding parties. Gustavo would love to join the band, but he can't play any of the instruments. What's a wannabe mariachi to do? Follow Gustavo as he finds his place in the family mariachi band.

Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead

Illustrated by: Rene King Moreno
Age Level: 6-9

Day after day, Lupita and Tío Urbano watch the Monarch butterflies arrive. Urbano says they are the souls of the dead ones arriving in time for Día de los muertos. When Urbano becomes sick and dies soon after, Lupita feels only sadness — until she sees the Monarchs and remembers Urbano's words. The beautiful story and illustrations bring the true meaning of this important celebration to life for readers young and old.

Uncle Rain Cloud

Illustrated by: Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Age Level: 6-9

When Tío Tomás speaks in Spanish and tells his nephew Carlos ancient stories from Mexico, he is animated and happy. When he has to speak in English, however, his bad mood makes him look like a rain cloud. Eventually the two of them find a solution that will allow them to know "twice as much as everyone else!" This realistic story provides an authentic look at the frustration many recent immigrants feel when they are struggling to learn a new language, as well as the opportunities that being bilingual provides.

Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba

Age Level: 9-12

In writing about her childhood growing up in Camaguey, Cuba, Alma Flor Ada evokes all the senses. Readers will smell jasmine, coffee, and grandmother's perfume. They will see the bats flying overhead and hear adults share stories. Companion volume to Where the Flame Trees Bloom.

We Are Cousins

Illustrated by: Christina Rodriguez
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Cousins are friends and rivals. Cousins are funny and frustrating. But the most important thing is that cousins are family. From the moment they get together, the fun begins. Written in simple language for children ages 2-5, the brief English and Spanish text will become a valuable tool to encourage children to think and talk about their own families.

Where the Flame Trees Bloom

Age Level: 9-12

"Telling of her childhood in Cuba, Ada begins with an introduction to her homeland followed by 11 episodes about her family and her community. One story tells of her grandfather Modesto's courage and loyalty in the face of the death of his beloved wife and the simultaneous collapse of the Cuban economy. Another tells of her great-grandmother Mina, who continued to make rag dolls for the village children even after she had lost her sight.

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.