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Books About Latinos Who Made a Difference

Latino books for kids

From PBS Parents - Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15, by reading about the histories, cultures and contributions of Latino Americans. These titles tell the stories of famous Latinos whose legacies we continue to celebrate and discuss. The stories often focus on their childhoods and are sure to resonate with young readers. Many of the books are bilingual or are available in Spanish.

¡Béisbol!: Latino Baseball Pioneers and Legends
​By Jonah Winter
Age: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This collection profiles 14 Latino baseball pioneers (Roberto Clemente, Bobby Avila, etc.) who played during the first half of the 20th century, often in the Negro Leagues or winter leagues of Latin America. Readers will learn about the group’s accomplishments, including the barriers they had to overcome and how they paved the way for today’s Latino baseball stars. Spanish version available.

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours
​By Duncan Tonatiuh
Age: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Duncan Tonatiuh introduces young readers to muralist Diego Rivera and his many sources of inspiration, such as the Cubism movement that he discovered in Paris, the ruins of ancient Mexican civilizations, and the daily lives of the Mexican people. He concludes by asking, “What would Diego Rivera paint today?” These intriguing reflections are brought to life by Tonatiuh’s compelling, playful illustrations which evoke some of Diego’s best known scenes and murals. 2012 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.

Frida
By Jonah Winter (author) and Ana Juan (illustrator)
Age: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this refreshing tribute to Frida Kahlo and her imagination, Jonah Winter writes, “Frida doesn’t cry or complain. Instead of crying, she paints pictures of herself crying.” Winter gently explores how her suffering shapes her artwork in a way that children will be able to understand. Ana Juan’s colorful fantasies evoke Frida’s unique style and paintings.

My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral
​By Monica Brown (author) and John Parra (illustrator)
Age: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this bilingual book, Monica Brown tells the story of young Gabriel García Márquez and provides children with an introduction to magical realism by showing how young Gabriel’s surroundings and imagination merged in fantastic ways, fostering his creativity and building the foundation for the legendary characters and stories he would later create. Raúl Colón brings these rich imaginings to life in vivid illustrations that complement the lyrical text. Pura Belpré Honor Award.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
​By Monica Brown (author) and Julie Paschkis (illustrator)
Age: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Neftali always loved nature and words. This fondness allowed Neftali — better known as Pablo Neruda — to create poetry in a “voice [that] was heard across nations and ocean.” Rich language and lush illustrations that incorporate words in Spanish and English are sure to enthuse young writers while introducing this Nobel-winning poet.

Pelé: King of Soccer
​By Monica Brown (author) and Rudy Gutiérrez (illustrator)
Age: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Did you know that as a boy, Pelé played soccer in bare feet with a grapefruit instead of a soccer ball? Monica Brown shares the inspirational story of the beloved soccer star’s rise from humble beginnings to becoming El rey del fútbol. Rudy Gutiérrez’s brilliant and fluid illustrations of Pelé and “the beautiful game” of soccer leap off the page. Bilingual text.

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx
​By Jonah Winter (author) and Christina Rodriguez (illustrator)
Age: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This bilingual picture book tells the story of Sotomayor’s childhood in the Bronx, her time at Princeton, and her confirmation on the Supreme Court, with a special focus on her mother’s unwavering support throughout her life. Lovely illustrations capture the warmth and joy of Sotomayor’s family and story. Note: The biography includes a discussion of the racial undertones of her nomination and confirmation hearing.