Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. This month recognizes the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans whose families came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The following picture books are just some of the many that celebrate Hispanic cultures. They are listed in order of suggested age and publication date. Synopses are provided by the publishers.
ALMA, HEAD TO TOE/ALMA, DE PIES A CABEZA (Alma’s Words/Las palabras de Alma), by Juana Martinez-Neal, Candlewick; Bilingual edition, Sept. 5, 2023, Board Book, $8,99 (ages 2-5)
Get to know Alma, head to toe . . . in two languages! The beloved star of the Caldecott Honor Book Alma and How She Got Her Name appears in a joy-filled bilingual board book featuring words and simple phrases in English and Spanish.
I have two eyes, one nose, and a mouth. / Tengo dos ojos, una nariz y una boca.
I see you, Pajarito! / ¡Te veo, Pajarito!
Alma is known for her iconic stripes—but there’s more she’d like to show you! She has arms, hands, and fingers for patting a pet bird—as well as legs, feet, toes, and one adorable belly, below her ever-present heart. Juana Martinez-Neal’s bilingual board book teaches body parts while sharing moments in a little girl’s world, in a conversational narration (shown in both languages on every spread) combined with gentle, inviting illustrations.
DÍA DE MUERTOS: A PAPEL PICADO LIFT-THE-FLAP BOOK, by Dori Elys and Alicia Más, Little Simon, July 18, 2023, Board Book, $8.99 (ages 2-5)
In the vein of Coco, this bright board book highlights the beauty of Día de Muertos with colorful felt lift-the-flaps that look just like papel picado revealing details of the holiday.
It’s Dia de Muertos.
Won’t you join us
in this colorful celebration?”
With vibrant illustrations and flaps die-cut to look like papel picado, the intricately designed sheets of tissue paper, this joyful board book teaches young ones how to honor loved ones around us and those who have passed on.
REMEMBERING, by Xelena González and Adriana M. Garcia, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Aug. 29, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
A family remembers their beloved pet dog through the traditions of Día de Muertos in this poignant and brightly illustrated picture book from Pura Belpré Honor–winning team Xelena González and Adriana M. Garcia.
A child and their family observe the customs of Día de los Angelitos, one of the ritual celebrations of Día de Muertos, to celebrate the life of their beloved dog who passed away. They build a thoughtful ofrenda to help lead the pet’s soul home and help the little one process their grief in this moving reminder that loved ones are never really gone if we take the time to remember them.
EMPANADAS FOR EVERYONE, by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Lenny Wen, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Aug. 1, 2023, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
Every Saturday, Carina visits Tía Mimi in her barrio, which is always humming with life. There is música that hums from the windows, old cuentos floating on the breeze, and the honking of cars that creates the soundtrack of the morning. Every Saturday, she loves to make empanadas with her aunt, singing: “I like empanadas! I like you! ¡Me gustan las empanadas! ¡Me gustas tú!”
Not this Saturday though. This Saturday, Tía Mimi has gone to volunteer at the neighborhood food center and asks Carina to collect the ingredients all on her own. But maybe, with a little guidance from friends, Carina will be able to help Tía Mimi—and learn a little about what connects a community along the way.
PLÁTANOS ARE LOVE, by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris and Mariyah Rahman, Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Bilingual edition, April 11, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
Abuela says, “plátanos are love.”
I thought they were food.
But Abuela says they feed us in more ways than one.
With every pop of the tostones, mash of the mangú, and sizzle of the maduros, a little girl learns that plátanos are her history, they are her culture, and—most importantly—they are love.
ANCIENT NIGHT, by David Bowles and David Alvarez, Levine Querido, March 14, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
At the start of things, the elders say,
the universe was hushed and still.
The moon alone shone bright and round
in the star-speckled dark of the sky.
Here, in Ancient Night (Noche Antigua), David Álvarez displays his immense talent with full-color illustrations for the first time.
Ancient Night is a twist on two Nahuatl traditions: the rabbit which the Feathered Serpent placed on the moon, and Yaushu, the Lord Opossum who ruled the earth before humans came, and who stole fire from the gods to create the sun.
Award-winning author David Bowles has written a poetic text – and carefully researched backmatter – to accompany David’s lush illustrations and story. The book will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish editions, giving young readers everywhere the chance to savor this ancient tale in its most beautiful format possible.
Copyright © 2023 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.