Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Picture Books

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Here are some of our favorite books to help your family celebrate Hispanic Heritage.

Jose Luis Orozco

My children grew up with a soundtrack of Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins and Jose Luis Orozco. Books of Spanish nursery rhymes and folk songs are how I introduced my babies and toddlers to Spanish at home. These books by Jose Luis Orozco are playfully and colorfully illustrated by Elisa Kleven and can be enjoyed on their own or in combination with the music (each book has an accompanying album - your library probably has the CDs).

Other Spanish folk songs and nursery rhymes

Unless noted, these books all include the musical notation for the songs. Some feature the music as part of the main text, others include the music in the back matter. Although some of these may be out of print, I would bet your library has copies of most.

  • Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy (bilingual, text only, my edition included CD of the rhymes that are also songs)
  • Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy (bilingual set of songs, riddles, proverbs from Latino cultures - text only)
  • Los Pollitos and De Colores (bilingual board books, music at the end)
  • De Colores - Bright with Colors illustrated by David Diaz (bilingual)
  • El Toro Pinto and Other Songs in Spanish (fun illustrations by Anne Rockwell, English translation in the end matter)
  • Cantaba la Rana/ The Frog Was Singing (bilingual)
  • Grandmother's Nursery Rhymes - Las Nanas de Abuelita (bilingual, text only)
  • Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America by Lulu Delacre (bilingual, music in end matter)
  • Arrorro, Mi Nino: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games by Lulu Delacre (bilingual, music in end matter)

Spanish Poetry

Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English by Alma Flor Ada (bilingual)

I love this book of short poems in English and Spanish that honor the lives of migrant workers while exploring the Spanish alphabet. Bold, bright illustrations by Simon Silva.

These bilingual poetry books by Francisco X. Alarcon feature short seasonal poems that work well in both Spanish and English and are also highly accessible to children.

Pablo Neruda

We recently read 5 or 6 picture book biographies in English and Spanish about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Below you will find our three favorites plus two books of his poetry and a middle grade work of historical fiction based on Neruda's life (with selections of his poetry at the end).
A short biography. I love Paschkis' gorgeous illustrations full of Spanish and English words.

Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and his Muse
A wonderfully illustrated picture book that explores Neruda's melancholy nature and celebration of ordinary objects.

To Go Singing Through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda*
A long, texty biography focusing on Neruda's childhood full of excerpts from Neruda's own journals and poetry.

El Libro de las Preguntas
Odes to Common Things, Bilingual Edition (for adults, but I read some of the shorter poems to my kids)
Two books of poetry by Neruda that are accessible to children.
A chapter book by Pam Munoz Ryan loosely based on Neruda's life, has a great selection of his poetry at the end.

My Life with the Wave (based on a story by Octavio Paz)

This is a wonderful retelling of a story by the great Mexican writer Octavio Paz. It offers plenty of material for kids and adults alike to enjoy. It is also one of the best examples of personification you will find in a picture book. The illustrations by Mark Buehner are colorful, emotionally expressive, and full of boisterous action. I used to read this one to my students every year.

Picture Book Biographies

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (available in Spanish or bilingual)
Turning Pages: My Life Story/ Pasando Paginas (picture book autobiography of Sonia Sotomayor)


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