September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic/Latine/x Heritage Month. In California, 56% of school age students are Latine/x, and in OUSD, 46.1% identify as Latine/x. We’ve put together a list of Latine/x books that cover various topics and are organized by age range. These book recommendations touch on a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and narratives to showcase the huge diversity within the Latine/x community. Here are some of our favorite titles from the list to help start your search!
Latine/x Book Recommendation for Preschool Students
My Dog Just Speaks Spanish by Andrea Cáceres, offers an understanding and gentle hand to any learners who are learning a new language or are having to balance bilingualism. This book emphasizes that learning takes time and that connections can transcend languages. The story is available in both English and Spanish!
Latine/x Book Recommendations for Early Elementary Students
For early elementary students, When We Love Someone We Sing to Them by local author Ernesto Javier Martinez is a great choice. This book explores the widespread Mexican tradition of singing to loved ones and how traditions stretch to include all community members. This title offers loving affirmations to LGBTQ+ youth and celebrates inclusivity and various applications of love with gorgeous illustrations by Oakland author and illustrator Maya Cristina Gonzalez. This is an English/Spanish bilingual book.
Another new picture book we love, good for K-5th grade, is Platanos Are Love, written by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris and illustrated by Mariyah Rahman. This story is a beautiful one about food, history, and love in the Afro-Latine/x community. One of our staff read it to a 3rd grade class of African American, Latine/x, and Asian American students, and the book provided multiple opportunities for conversation about the African diaspora, how slavery impacted enslaved people’s ability to pass down their history in writing, and brought everyone together through a shared love of bananas and plantains.
Check out these other favorite Latine/x books for early elementary students:
- Abuelita and I Make Flan written and illustrated by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom
- Patchwork written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Corinna Luyken
- Yenebi’s Drive to School written by Sendi Santamaria
Latine/x Books for Students in the Middle Grades
A new middle-grade book, Aniana Jumps In, by Jasminne Mendez, centers on an Afro-Latina Dominican girl in Miami who loves swimming but has to hide it from her mother, who lost someone in the water years ago. Things get more complicated when Aniana develops a chronic illness and has to navigate family, disability, and mother-daughter relationships.
A graphic novel perfect for middle-grade students is Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illustrated by Gabriella Epstein. This graphic novel takes its own twist on the Breakfast Club and finds common ground between five seemingly different students. These students find collectivity through speaking Spanish together.
Here are some other great Latine/x book recommendations for kids in the middle grades:
- Chunky written and illustrated by Yehudi Mercado
- Hoops: A Graphic Novel written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
- Twin Cities written by Jose Pimienta
- We Are Not From Here written by Jenny Torres Sanchez
- Witchlings written by Claribel A. Ortega
- You Only Live Once, David Bravo written by Mark Oshiro
Additional Latine/x Book Suggestions
Beyond our own Latine/x booklist, we would also like to highlight the OUSD Latino Heritage Resource Guide, a great introduction to the month. The OUSD Ethnic Studies department also has a variety of resources for schools, educators and families (click on Chicano/Latino/Indígena Guide and scroll down for links to sample newsletter blurbs, books, movies, and lesson plans).