Favorite Foods: Hispanic Heritage

From tamales to bean soup, these stories celebrate favorite foods from Latino/Latin American cultures, as well as the time spent with loved ones cooking (and eating!) special meals.

A Spoon for Every Bite

By: Joe Hayes
Illustrated by: Rebecca Leer
Age Level: 6-9

When a wealthy neighbor agrees to be the godparent for a poor couple's baby, they save enough money to buy him a third spoon so that he can eat with them in their home. Upon seeing that the couple only has three spoons, however, he laughs at their misfortune — until they tell him they have a friend who has a new spoon for every bite. The neighbor is driven mad trying to buy spoons and determine how this could be true, and in the end the couple has the last laugh. Beautiful acrylic illustrations bring the southwestern setting to life.

Alicia's Fruity Drinks

Illustrated by: Laura Lacamara
Age Level: 6-9

"The fruit- blended juice drinks known as aguas frescas offered at a fair inspire a little girl and her mother to serve their own version after a soccer practice. The dual English/ Spanish text is augmented by summery scenes in opaque, rich colors. The simplicity of the suggested idea that homemade fruit juice will always be fun to make and delicious to drink is appealing." — KIRKUS Reviews

Bean Soup

Illustrated by: Rafael Yockteng
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: This delightful poem teaches readers young and old how to make a heartwarming, tummy-filling black bean soup, from gathering the beans, onions, and garlic to taking little pebbles out of the beans to letting them simmer till the luscious smell indicates it's time for supper. Jorge Argueta's vivid poetic voice and Rafael Yockteng's vibrant illustrations make preparing this healthy and delicious Latino favorite an exciting, almost magical experience.

Carlos and the Cornfield

Illustrated by: Jeanne Stevens
Age Level: 6-9

"Carlos longs for the beautiful red pocket knife that he admires in Señor Lopez's store. In order to earn money, he agrees to help his father plant el maíz (corn). Papa tells him to only put three seeds in each hole so the plants will have plenty of space to grow. Carlos despairs of ever finishing and decides to fill the holes with four, five, and six kernels. He gets his knife but when corn begins to grow, the boy realizes what a big mistake he has made. Instead of telling Papa, he sets out to fix things himself, with humorous results." — School Library Journal

Chato's Kitchen

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: Susan Guevara
Age Level: 3-6

Chato and Novio Boy are the coolest cats in their East Los Angeles barrio. When a family of mice moves next door to Chato, he invites them to dinner. He's going to eat them for dinner, but the mice bring a friend along to surprise Chato and foil his plans. The text and pictures show the funny situation and the satisfying solution. In English sprinkled with Spanish.

Delicious Hullabaloo

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Andy Mora
Age Level: 3-6

On a starry night, a group of lizards and their friends gather for music, food, and fun — a delicious hullabaloo! Whether it's the mangos, cerezas dules (sweet cherries), or the sassy salsa, everyone is sure to find a treat that they enjoy in this delightful poem illustrated with colorful, whimsical depictions of a desert setting.

Grandma's Chocolate

Illustrated by: Lisa Fields
Age Level: 3-6

"Sabrina is excited about the special gifts that her grandma has brought back from her visit to Mexico. As they play with the ribbons, clothes, and music makers, Abuelita explains each item's role in their cultural heritage. Sabrina also learns that cacao was important to her ancestors, who grew it on plantations, used it as currency, and developed it into chocolate, and together Abuelita and Sabrina celebrate cacao's delights further by making hot chocolate together from scratch." — Booklist

How Nanita Learned To Make Flan

Illustrated by: Petra Mathers
Age Level: 6-9

In their tiny Mexican village, Nanita's cobbler father works so hard that he has no time to smile, much less make Nanita a pair of new shoes. Nanita decides to take on the task herself, fashioning multicolored shoes out of leather scraps. The magic shoes lead her to the desert, but soon she is forced to become the servant of a cruel ranchero, who loves to eat flan. Nanita becomes an expert flan chef — but will she ever find her way home? An engaging addition to units on traditional Mexican foods and magical realism.

Jalapeño Bagels

Illustrated by: Robert Casilla
Age Level: 6-9

"When Pablo must bring something to share for his school's International Day, he considers several items from his family's bakery. But his mother's Mexican pan dulce, empanadas, and chango bars don't do the trick. His father's bagels and challah bread are appealing, but not quite right either. Then the boy helps to make the family specialty, Jalapeño Bagels, joint creation from the cultures of both parents, and decides that it is the perfect contribution: '...a mixture of both of you. Just like me.'" — School Library Journal

Let's Eat!

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Maribel Suarez
Age Level: 3-6

A Hispanic family's preparation for dinner is presented in easy words in both Spanish and English. Warm illustrations depict an affectionate family enjoying their daily routine. This is the first book in Pat Mora's My Family/Mi Familia series, a four-book collection of easy-read bilingual books.

Meat Pies

Illustrated by: Donna Perrone
Age Level: 3-6

A Caribbean boy makes empanadas with his grandmother in this story written for beginning readers. Labeled ingredients and kitchen tools provide additional vocabulary for discussion. Spanish version available. A lesson plan guide is included on the Lee and Low website.

Mud Tacos

Illustrated by: Maryn Roos
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Marissa loves her big brother, Mario. He always comes up with fun ideas. When playing in their nana's backyard, they decide to make some wormy, squirmy mud tacos. That gives Mario an idea to have some real tacos for lunch. Before long it is off to the store with Nana, but first they must pick up their cousins Rosie and Chico. When Chico starts acting like a hotshot to prove that he is a big kid, can his cousins, with the help of a few mud tacos, show him how to have some real fun?

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.

Seven Cookies

Illustrated by: Ana Ochoa
Age Level: 3-6

A Mexican American girl and her grandfather have just finished baking cookies, and everyone in the family wants one. Follow along as the girl shares the cookies one by one! Spanish version available. A lesson plan is included on the Lee and Low website.

The Bakery Lady

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Pablo Torecilla
Age Level: 3-6

Monica enjoys spending time at her grandparents' bakery not only because of sweet treats but because they have a special relationship. The story, told in both Spanish and English, is imbued with details about Mexican traditions.

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred

Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 3-6

Start with a farm maiden and a pot, invite some friends to help her, and before you know it, you have arroz con leche — and a rollicking party! Told in the style of "The House That Jack Built," this lively story incorporates new Spanish words into each refrain, which are highlighted by Rafael López's vibrant and entertaining illustrations. Activity guide available.

The Dog Who Loved Tortillas

Illustrated by: Geronimo Garcia
Age Level: 6-9

When Gabriela and Diego ask for a dog, their parents tell them that they will have to share, which the siblings reluctantly accept…While teaching her a trick, the children discover the pup loves tortillas; soon she is known to the entire neighborhood for her gentleness, sweetness, and as the dog who loves tortillas. When Sofie gets sick, the children finally learn to share her. Full-page innovative and colorful clay illustrations will hold the attention of young readers. — School Library Journal

The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story

Illustrated by: Amy Cordova
Age Level: 3-6

Jade's village is running out of water. When a small blue hummingbird tells Jade that she most go to the Mountain Spirit to ask for rain, she is afraid to make the journey alone — but she knows that it may be her village's only hope. Based on an ancient Mexican legend, Rudolf Anaya has created a memorable story to introduce young readers to the importance of corn — and tortillas — as Mexican food staples.

The Tortilla Factory

Illustrated by: Ruth Paulsen
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: In clear and eloquent language, Gary Paulsen pays tribute to a cycle of life — from seed to plant to tortilla. Workers till the black soil, operate the clanking machinery of the factory, and drive the trucks that deliver the tortillas back into the hands that will plant the yellow seeds. With Ruth Wright Paulsen's expressive paintings, The Tortilla Factory brings forth the poetry and beauty of a simple way of life.

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.

What Can You Do With a Paleta?

Illustrated by: Magaly Morales
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: As she strolls through her barrio, a young girl introduces readers to the frozen, fruit-flavored treat that thrills Mexican and Mexican-American children. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer's day — there's so much to do with a paleta!