Poems, Proverbs, and Plays: Hispanic Heritage

There are so many ways to use language to celebrate culture — a familiar saying, a vivid poem, a dramatic presentation. These collections offer children many avenues to think and talk about Latino and Latin American cultural traditions and experiences in a variety of formats.

A Movie in My Pillow: Poems

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Gomez
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Young Jorgito lives in San Francisco's Mission District, but he hasn't forgotten his native El Salvador. He recalls the volcanoes, the tasty cornmeal pupusas, and his grandmother's stories. As he changes from timid newcomer to seasoned city dweller, Jorgito's memories and new adventures form a patchwork of dreams — the movie in his pillow — that is perfectly suited to his new bicultural identity.

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.

Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Paula Barragan
Age Level: 6-9

Thirteen poems rejoice in Latina women, their diversity, and their roles. This short, illustrated collection celebrates Spanish-speaking countries as well as bilingualism in the United States. Illustrations swirl across each page, combining computer generated and traditional art with energetic results.

My First Book of Proverbs

Age Level: 3-6

"In this collection of Mexican dichos (proverbs), artists Ralfka Gonzalez and Ana Ruiz bring to life their favorite sayings from Mexico and the United States. These dichos celebrate life and culture, reminding young readers that Donde hay gana, hay mana/Where there's a will, there's a way. With vibrant color and folk art flavor, the festive paintings draw readers into a whimsical world where bumblebees play bongo drums and roosters sing all day." — Children's Book Review

My Mexico

Illustrated by: F. John Sierra
Age Level: 6-9

"Sensitive, soft but bright illustrations in pencil over watercolor depict Mexican scenes in 16 double-page spreads. Printed over the backgrounds are 18 poems in both English and Spanish…The poems are mostly free verse, although there is some use of rhyme. They deal with everyday subjects such as cockroaches or corn, or historical topics such as the Nahuatl language or the disappearance of the Aztecs." — School Library Journal

Neighborhood Odes

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 9-12

"The Hispanic neighborhood in Soto's 21 poems is brought sharply into focus by the care with which he records images of everyday life: the music of an ice cream vendor's truck, the top of a refrigerator where old bread lies in plastic, dust released into the air when a boy strums a guitar…Diaz's woodcuts complement the poems perfectly: the silhouettes are fanciful and dynamic but do not draw attention from the words on the page." — Publishers Weekly

Talking with Mother Earth

Age Level: 6-9

"This literary offering stands out for its beauty and depth of expression. Argueta, a Pipil Nahua Indian, reaches deep into his childhood in rural El Salvador for memories and for his connection to Mother Earth. The poems alternate between bitterness and joy. Nahuatl words are peppered throughout, almost defiantly…Poems about fire, wind, and water speak to those life-giving forces as friends and protectors." — School Library Journal

Wachale!: Poetry and Prose about Growing Up Latino

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: This groundbreaking bilingual anthology, carefully designed for middle readers, is a mosaic of voices demonstrating the energy, creativity, and diversity of the fastest-growing minority group in America. Wáchale! (Spanglish for "watch out!") includes folk tales, stories, and poems in both English and Spanish, and brief autobiographical essays by both well-established and emerging writers representing all shades of Latinos.

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.

¡Aplauso!: Hispanic Children's Theatre

Age Level: 6-9

"Rosenberg, director of the Bilingual Theater, provides a collection of staged Hispanic plays for children, providing a wide range of plots and multicultural characters throughout. Plays are provided in English, Spanish and bilingual formats and provide diverse and often unexpected themes which will prove refreshingly different for young aspiring actors." — Midwest Book Review