LatinX Heritage

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in October to recognize the achievements and contributions of LatinX Americans, to honor their experiences and to uplift our LatinX children and families. Enjoy sharing these stories: 

Alma and How She Got Her Name,” by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick; ages 4-8; $15.99; 32 pp.). Alma helps us all feel like we are special for being unique. Alma Sofia Esperanza Josi Pura Candela worries about her long name until her father tells her family stories, one for each person she’s named after.  Soft and gently sweet illustrations show the distinctive essence of each ancestor.

Dreamers,” by Yuyi Morales (Holiday House; ages 4-8; $19.99; 40 pp.). Morales’ vibrant picture book draws on her experiences immigrating from Mexico to San Francisco as a young mother. Evocative language and gorgeous artwork is filled with love, passion and imagination as Yuyi and her son discover themselves and language in stories. “We are two languages./ We are lucha./ We are resilience./ We are hope.” A must-read book full of hope.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora,” by Pablo Cartaya (Viking; 256 pp.; $16.99; ages 9-13). Every Sunday, 13-year-old Arturo joins his extended Cuban-American family at their restaurant La Cocina de la Isla. When a shady land developer threatens to put up flashy high rise condos, Arturo joins forces with his cousins and friends to fight back. Cartaya delightfully navigates Arturo’s awkwardness, humor and conviction as he develops his first crush and fights for his family’s restaurant.

The First Rule of Punk,” by Celia C. Pérez (Viking / Penguin; 336 pp.; $16.99; ages 9-13). María Luisa wears Chuck Taylors, listens to punk rock, makes zines, and goes by the nickname Malú. She’s devastated when she has to move to Chicago, leaving behind her dad and his record store. At her new strongly Latino school, Malú must navigate finding new friends, balancing her Mexican culture with her interests, and speaking out against unfair rules. A fun, fresh story about claiming your own style.

Juliet Takes a Breath,” by Gabby Rivera (Dial; ages 14-18; $17.99; 320 pp.). In this vibrant queer coming of age story, Latina native Juliet Palante leaves her native Bronx for an internship in Portland, Oregon with her favorite feminist author. Juliet explores her understanding of freedom and identity, pushing readers to embrace the power of one’s own voice and being true to yourself.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle,” by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña (Kokila; ages 4-8; $17.99; 40 pp.). When Papi gets home from work, young Daisy rushes to give him a huge hug and then grabs their helmets, eager for a ride on Papi’s motorcycle. Whether they’re roaring past or cruising along and greeting family and friends, young Daisy is noticing all of the sights, sounds and smells, in Quintero’s homage to her papi and her hometown of Corona, California. 

The Only Road,” by Alexandra Diaz (Paula Wiseman / Simon & Schuster; ages 12-16; $8.99; 336 pp.). Twelve-year-old Jaime flees his home in Guatemala after a local drug gang kills his cousin Miguel. Jaime and Angela, Miguel’s sister, travel north alone, navigating the treacherous journey by bus, train and foot. This gripping novel not only shows the violence and abuse Jaime and Angela survive, but also how painful family separation is for children. 

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation,” by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams; ages 7-10; $18.95; 40 pp.). Sylvia Mendez and her family fought their Orange County school district for placing Sylvia in the “Mexican school” school because of her skin tone and surname. Tonatiuh adeptly combines clear text and folk-inspired art to bring this important story to children, showing how important it is to stand up for what’s right.

We Set the Dark on Fire,” by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Katherine Tegen; ages 13-18; $17.99; 384 pp.). In this intriguing fantasy infused with a LatinX setting and characters, Dani is pulled between her own striving for a better life as the new wife of a top political leader and supporting the rebel group who’s fighting for social justice. It’s complicated by Dani’s own past, coming illegally from across the wall. In her debut, Mejia weaves together moral compromise, blossoming love and exciting action, echoing today’s headlines. Ψ

Mary Ann Scheuer is a high school librarian. Find more books she recommends sharing with your children at her blog, Great Kid Books,