Children's Books for Parents and Teachers - book reviews and suggestions for parents and teachers.
Bilingual

The following books written by and about Hispanics range from picture books illustrated with folk art to photographed autobiographies of children of migrant farmworkers. Many of these books are bilingual and others are sprinkled throughout with Spanish words and phrases. They communicate difficulties growing up as a Latino, provide portraits of close family ties, and offer a look at Hispanic foods, arts, holidays, and other traditions. While learning about Hispanic people and culture, your students will also be learning Spanish!

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book

By: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated
Level: 8-9

Yuyi Morales takes us on a new journey with Señor Calvera, the skeleton from Day of the Dead celebrations. Señor Calvera is worried. He can’t figure out what to give Grandma Beetle for her birthday. Misunderstanding the advice of Zelmiro the Ghost, Señor Calvera decides not to get her one gift, but instead one gift for every letter of the alphabet, just in case. Una Acordéon: An accordion for her to dance to. Bigotes: A mustache because she has none. Cosquillas: Tickles to make her laugh…only to find out at …

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Before You Were Here, Mi Amor

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor

By: Samantha Vamos
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Level: 8-9

The members of a familia lovingly prepare for a new bebé. A tenderly written story, with Spanish words throughout, tells readers how Mami is eating healthy food, Papi is building a rocking chair, Abuela is painting elefantes and tigres in the nursery, and the hermano and hermana are helping with baby names. With its vibrant and warm illustrations, this debut picture book is perfect for expectant parents or children curious about the time before they were here.

“Before you were here, tu papi carved a mecedora from the wood of an …

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Under the Lemon Moon (Bajo la Luna de Limon)

Under the Lemon Moon (Bajo la Luna de Limon)

By: Edith Hope Fine
Publisher: Lee & Low, 1999
Level: 8-9

Late one night, Rosalinda wakes to see her lovingly cared for lemon tree being robbed of all its fruit. The next day she sees the thief with his family — selling her limones! Then Rosalinda meets the spirit of La Anciana, The Old One, who makes things grow. She gives Rosalinda a remedy that will heal her lemon tree (and her bitter feelings). That night Rosalinda follows the spirit’s instructions and then slumbers under the lemon tree beneath a full yellow moon. When she awakes, the tree is full of …

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The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street

By: Sandra Cisneros
Publisher: Vintage, 1984
Level: 12-13

This collection of vignettes about Chicago’s Hispanic quarter are told from the point of view of Esperanza Cordero who is coming of age. Through her unique descriptions of the neighborhood and its residents, the reader is given a glimpse of the barrio as well as an understanding of Esperanza’s hopes and fears.

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Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories

Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories

By: S. Beth Atkin
Publisher: Little Brown, 1993
Level: 12-13

Through intimate photographs, poetry, and interviews, children of migrant farmworkers tell their stories. A nine-year-old boy talks about the long hours in the fields. A ten-year-old describes living in crowded migrant housing. Nine different voices tell about gangs, discrimination, language barriers, and strong family ties.

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Baseball in April and Other Stories

Baseball in April and Other Stories

By: Gary Soto
Publisher: Harcourt, 1990
Level: 10-11

These short stories, peppered with Spanish words and idioms, deal with Latino youth struggling with the successes and failures of growing up in California’s Central Valley. Although the characters are Latino, many young readers working their way to adulthood will identify with the universal themes.

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My Name Is María Isabel

My Name Is María Isabel

By: Alma Flor Ada
Publisher: Aladdin, 1995
Level: 10-11

María Isabel Salazar López is a new girl in school. It’s hard enough to be a new girl, but when the teacher decides to give her another name, Mary Lopez, she is frustrated. María Isabel, who is so proud to be named after close family members, is lost without her name. When her teacher calls on her she doesn’t even recognize the name as hers. This leads to many misunderstandings that stand in the way of María Isabel’s getting along with her teacher and fitting in with the class. When …

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Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas

Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas

By: Juan Felipe Herrera
Publisher: Children's Book Press, 1995
Level: 10-11

This is the story of the author’s childhood as the son of migrant farmworkers in the fields of California. In rich lyrical prose he recreates the joy of sleeping and eating under the stars, listening to his father make bird calls and play the harmonica, and hearing his mother sing and recite poetry. With this strong foundation of family and love, Juanito knows that one day he will be able to follow his own road.

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Ghost Wings

Ghost Wings

By: Barbara Joosse
Level: 6-7

Set in Mexico during the monarch butterflies’ annual migration and during the Days of the Dead, this is a heartwarming tale of a young girl and her close, loving relationship with her grandmother. Read this aloud in celebration of grandparents or during the Days of the Dead. A study guide is included in the back of the book along with descriptions of the celebration and the migration of the monarch butterflies.

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El Gusto del Mercado Mexicano/A Taste of the Mexican Market

El Gusto del Mercado Mexicano/A Taste of the Mexican Market

By: Nancy María Grande Tabor
Level: 6-7

The author invites readers along on a visit to a Mexican market. During the tour, you compare colors and shapes of produce, solve math problems, and learn about Mexican culture. Science, language, math, and social studies concepts are hidden in this brightly illustrated picture book bursting with different kinds of foods.

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