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Find more Classroom Connections
These picture books, including bilingual titles and translated pairings, add a layer of inclusion to collections by representing Spanish language on the page.
In the U.S., Spanish is spoken by an estimated 41 million residents, making it the second-most-spoken language in the country. Those numbers account for speakers with heritage from over 20 Latin American countries, with differences in dialects and even fluency—especially between generations. Not surprisingly, the Latino community has been vocal in the call for more diverse representation in children’s publishing. Spanish translations and bilingual titles reinforce the goals of inclusion and diversity, as language often goes hand in hand with cultural representation, reflecting the experience of many students in classrooms across the country.
The following picture books are available in separate English and Spanish editions or in bilingual editions, with both English and Spanish text or with Spanish phrases appearing throughout. For dual-language classrooms and English language learners, such texts allow students to follow along as they become more familiar with the new language. Likewise, parents whose primary language is Spanish can feel empowered to engage with a text alongside their child. For families fluent in both languages, the availability and use of these titles allow them to maintain a connection with their heritage. The range of topics, from concept board books to biographies, makes it easy to include these in study units or share during story times, and best of all, you don’t have to wait until Latinx Heritage Month.
Federico and the Wolf. By Rebecca J. Gomez. Illus. by Elisa Chavarri. 2020. 40p. Clarion (9781328567789). K–Gr. 2.Using rhyming, bouncy quatrains and plenty of Spanish words, Gomez tells the tale of Federico, who rides his bike to the market to purchase produce so his grandfather can make the perfect pico de gallo at his shop. On his way, Rico meets the big bad wolf, and the classic plot points ensue. Chavarri’s bright illustrations include a vibrant array of objects that are culturally representative, and her expressive, bold figures emphasize the dramatic turns of the story.
The Giant Jumperee. By Julia Donaldson. Illus. By Helen Oxenbury. 2017. 32p. Dial (9780735227972). PreS–K.La saltinadora gigante. By Julia Donaldson. Illus. by Helen Oxenbury. 2017. 32p. Lectorum (9788426144133). PreS–K.In this witty cumulative tale, Rabbit, Cat, Bear, and Elephant are frightened one by one by the awful “Giant Jumperee.” Each animal thinks it knows how to get rid of the menace until the terrifying, unseen foe scares them away with loud threats. A cheerful, rhyming text keeps preschoolers in on the fun, and the Spanish edition successfully maintains the enjoyable and steady flow that pays off in the end.
Luna luminosa, ¿dónde estás? / Luminous Moon, Where are You? By Aracely De Alvarado. Illus. by Victoria Castillo. 2020. 32p. Arte Público/Piñata (9781558859111). K–Gr. 2.One night, Juanito notices the moon is not in its usual place in the night sky. He sets off to investigate, encountering and enlisting help from nocturnal creatures. STEM elements make this a versatile story, and search-mission action keeps the narrative engaging. Spot art featuring the phases of the moon provides a great visual reference to follow along with and divides the Spanish and English text.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle. By Isabel Quintero. Illus. by Zeke Peña. 2019. 40p. Penguin/Kokila (9780525553410). K–Gr. 3.Mi papi tiene una moto. By Isabel Quintero. Illus. by Zeke Peña. 2019. 40p. Penguin/Kokila (9780525554943). K–Gr. 3.After a long day of work, Papi picks up Daisy, and they zigzag on his motorcycle through the streets of their neighborhood, zooming past neighborhood sites. Daisy loves this time with her papi, but she also notices her neighborhood changing. Peña’s dynamic illustrations—a mix of digital techniques and watercolors in a muted, tropical palette—are packed with action, smiles, tenderness, and resilience.
Octopus Stew. By Eric Velasquez. Illus. by the author. 2019. 40p. Holiday (9780823437542). PreS–Gr. 2.Pulpo guisado. By Eric Velasquez. Illus. by the author. 2019. 40p. Holiday (9780823448647). PreS–Gr. 2.When Ramsey’s art inspires his grandma to make pulpo guisado (octopus stew), they have no idea that bringing home the biggest octopus from the market will lead to an even bigger adventure. When strange noises come from the kitchen, they investigate, only to see the gigantic octopus, very much alive, as it escapes the pot and grabs Grandma. Velasquez’s realistic, cinematic illustrations will delight.
Saturday. By Oge Mora. Illus. by the author. 2019. 40p. Little, Brown (9780316431279). PreS–Gr. 1.Sábado. By Oge Mora. Illus. by the author. 2021. 40p. Lorito (9788412245028). PreS–Gr. 1.Saturdays are special. Ava’s mother works every other day, but on her only day off, mom and daughter do all sorts of fun things—go to story hour, get their hair done, lounge in the park—and this Saturday is extra special because they have tickets for a one-night-only puppet show. The bright illustrations are inventively conceived and full of motion—just the right vehicle for bringing this Black mother-daughter duo to vibrant life.
A Thousand White Butterflies. By Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams. Illus. by Gina Maldonado. 2021. 40p. Charlesbridge (9781580895774). PreS–Gr. 3.Isabella is excited for her first day of school in a new country because she knows it means making new friends, but her hopes are dashed when a large snowfall cancels school. This story contains many of the emotions children may feel when settling into life in a new country, along with the joys of a snow day. The cheerful illustrations show how new friendships can transcend linguistic barriers.
¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat. By Raúl the Third. Illus. by the author. 2020. 48p. HMH/Versify (9781328557049). K–Gr. 2.¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market. By Raúl the Third. Illus. by the author. 2019. 40p. HMH/Versify (9781328557261). K–Gr. 2.Little Lobo’s adventures, both of which have earned Raúl the Third Pura Belpré Award recognition, are rich with words in Spanish, presented in a reader-friendly format, with translations, if needed. The spreads are dense with background detail, and readers can spend ages poring over them to discover something new in the scenery. Cultural references and puns abound and are sure to elicit giggles from kids and parents alike.
Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies. By Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera. Illus. by Jorge Lacera. 2019. 40p. Lee & Low (9781620147948). K–Gr. 3.¡Los Zombis no comen verduras! By Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera. Illus. by Jorge Lacera. 2019. 40p. Lee & Low (9781620148518). K–Gr. 3.Mo Romero loves eating veggies. Unfortunately, he and his family are zombies, meaning he should be munching Spanish Zombiana delicacies, like deditos en salsa (fingers in salsa) or empanadas de patipanza (“arm-panadas”), rather than carrots and kale chips. Funny, cartoon-style illustrations plant clever details into the scenes, such as a zombified selection of vegetables. A relatable theme, explored in a fun way, for kids managing cultural expectations.
Zonia’s Rain Forest. By Juana Martinez-Neal. Illus. by the author. 2021. 40p. Candlewick (9781536208450). PreS–Gr. 3.La selva de Zonia. By Juana Martinez-Neal. Illus. by the author. 2021. 40p. Candlewick (9781536213362). PreS–Gr. 3.Zonia frolics through the rain forest, greeting a variety of creatures, that share her Amazon home. The text flows with ease and features a counting element reinforced by the images. The rounded, soft-textured illustrations are wonderfully inviting and involve linocut and woodcut leaves and fronds printed on natural banana-bark paper. An environmental theme and back matter encourage reflection on caring for our home planet.
Self-Discovery & Growth
Call Me Tree / Llámame árbol. By Maya Christina Gonzalez. Illus. by the author. Tr. by Dana Goldberg. 2014. 24p. Lee & Low (9780892392940). K–Gr. 3.The author-illustrator of I Know the River Loves Me / Yo sé que el río me ama (2009) here offers vibrantly hued illustrations depicting diverse children mimicking trees by forming their bodies into various yoga positions. The art has a magic-realism feel, as children become one with the roots, trunks, and branches of their trees. The gentle, dual-language poetry asserts the connection with nature.
The Day You Begin. By Jacqueline Woodson. Illus. by Rafael López. 2018. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen (9780399246531). PreS–Gr. 1.El día en que descubres quién eres. Jacqueline Woodson. Illus. by Rafael López. 2018. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen (9781984812070). PreS–Gr. 1.Woodson catches the uncertainty, even fear, that comes with new situations, but her lyrical language also captures the moments when confidence sparks and friendships are born. The bold, bright artwork features a diverse cast of kids, all with huge eyes. The important message plays out in a striking design that mixes the everyday with flights of fancy.
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away. By Meg Medina. Illus. by Sonia Sánchez. 2020. Candlewick (9781536207040). PreS–Gr. 2.Evelyn Del Rey se muda. By Meg Medina. Illus. by Sonia Sánchez. 2020. Candlewick (9781536213348). PreS–Gr. 2.Evelyn is Daniela’s best friend, her “número uno,” and when she moves away, Daniela is heartbroken and fearful of the inevitable change. Medina’s earnest, poignant words are accompanied by Sánchez’s vivid, earth-toned illustrations that depict Evelyn and Daniela playing, their Afro-Latino families’ affection for one another, and the energetic, youthful spirit that both girls possess.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost. By Flavia Z. Drago. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. Candlewick (9781536211146). PreS–Gr. 1.Gustavo, el fantasmita tímido. By Flavia Z. Drago. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. Candlewick (9781536214147). PreS–Gr. 1.Gustavo is a shy, young ghost who has trouble making friends, despite wanting to join in games and fun with the other neighborhood monsters. Drago fills her sweet ghost story with vibrant colors, textures, and authentic details from Mexican culture. While ideal for Day of the Dead, this heartwarming story about bravely taking the first step toward friendship is wonderful for little listeners year-round.
One of a Kind, Like Me / Único como yo. By Laurin Mayeno. Illus. by Robert Liu-Trujillo. Tr. by Teresa Mlawer. 2016. 32p. Blood Orange (9780985351410). K–Gr. 3.When the school parade is announced, Danny confidently decides he wants to wear a purple princess dress. Mayeno shows Danny surrounded by a supportive family structure: Grandpa suggests visiting the thrift store, and Danny’s mother helps make his costume. The Spanish and English text appear side by side in this reassuring story of a gender nonconforming child.
When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba. By Raquel M. Ortiz. Illus. by Flor de Vita. Tr. by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. 2019. 32p. Arte Público/Piñata (9781558858862). K–Gr. 2.Every week, Julia grudgingly heads to a class for bomba, a drum-centric Puerto Rican dance with African origins. Julia is self-conscious about keeping up with the other dancers, but when each student is asked to dance solo, she finally connects to the rhythm. The accompanying digital illustrations capture the multiplicity of the Puerto Rican community. Authentic themes and dual-language text are a highlight of this rare, quotidian representation of Afro-Latino communities.
Where Are You From? By Yamile Saied Mendéz. Illus. by Jaime Kim. 2019. 40p. Harper (9780062839930). PreS–Gr. 2.¿De dónde eres? By Yamile Saied Mendéz. Illus. by Jaime Kim. 2019. 40p. Harper (9780062915252). PreS–Gr. 2.Tired of being asked where she’s from, a girl brings the question to her abuelo. Abuelo takes the girl on an imaginative journey through their history and culture, but this doesn’t satisfy her, so she repeats the question. Abuelo’s second response is more personal, connecting her with the people she loves. Kim utilizes a warm color palette to suffuse the narrative with beautifully sentimental shades of ochre and gold.
You Matter. By Christian Robinson. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. Atheneum (9781534421691). PreS–Gr. 2. 813.6.Tú importas. By Christian Robinson. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. Libros del Zorro Rojo (9788412152142). PreS–Gr. 2. 813.6. Using simple, lyrical text and expansive, colorful illustrations, Robinson assures readers that, no matter what difficulties they may encounter or how a person might feel, everyone matters. Robinson’s stylized acrylic-and-collage artwork lightens up the text with hopeful and sometimes humorous touches. Nonjudgmental, reassuring, and filled with characters who are diverse in many intersectional ways.
Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built. By Angela Burke Kunkel. Illus. by Paola Escobar. 2020. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade (9781984892638). PreS–Gr. 3.Rescatando palabras: José Alberto Gutierrez y la biblioteca que creó. By Angela Burke Kunkel. Illus. by Paola Escobar. 2020. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade (9780593181706). PreS–Gr. 3.On his garbage collection route, José Alberto collects discarded books, which he uses to create a free library in his community. This amiable picture book offers children glimpses of Colombia as well as a role model who values books and enjoys sharing them with others. Kunkel’s concise text is effective in weaving a fictionalized story around the man’s life. Escobar, a Colombian artist living in Bogotá, contributes a series of lively digital illustrations.
Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet. By Elizabeth Rusch. Illus. by Teresa Martínez. 2019. 40p. Charlesbridge (9781580895811). K–Gr. 3. 363.738.Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Cómo un químico salvó nuestro planeta. By Elizabeth Rusch. Illus. by Teresa Martínez. 2019. 40p. Charlesbridge (9781580895828). K–Gr. 3. 363.738.Mexican American scientist Mario Molina made one of the greatest discoveries in environmental history, sounding the alarm about the depletion of the ozone layer, which subsequently earned him a Nobel Prize. Molina recently passed away, and although his efforts began decades ago, his research is relevant to discussions of the current climate crisis and a worthy reminder to students about the value of meticulous scientific research and the longstanding environmental struggle.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré. By Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illus. by Paola Escobar. 2019. 40p. Harper (9780062748683). K–Gr. 3. 813.Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré; bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos. By Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illus. by Paola Escobar. 2019. HarperCollins Español (9781400212644). K–Gr. 3. 813.Denise and Escobar pay tribute to the legacy of librarian Pura Belpré in this vibrant picture-book biography, a glossy immigration tale of dreams coming true, with lyrical language that lends itself to being read aloud. A worthy companion to The Storyteller’s Candle (2008), by Lucía González, with a more contemporary feel produced through the brilliantly detailed, brightly colored, whimsical illustrations and smoothly integrated linguistic code-switching.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. 2019. 48p. Candlewick (9780763680466). Gr. 3–6. 973.Schomburg: El hombre que creó una biblioteca. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. 2019. 48p. Candlewick (9781536208986). Gr. 3–6. 973.A Puerto Rico–born New Yorker, Schomburg began his quest when he was a student. Meticulous, he continued his avocation while working as a law clerk in New York City. Velasquez’s portraits of these talents are consistently heroic, while pictures of Schomburg himself, a man of positive stature and bearing, are warm and full of pride. This biographical depiction of a complex Afro-Latino intellectual is a rarity.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. 2014. 40p. Abrams (9781419710544). Gr. 2–5. 379.2.Separados no somos iguales: Sylvia Mendez y la lucha de su familia por la integración. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. 2017. 40p. SITESA (9786077744849). Gr. 2–5. 379.2.The concise, informative text discusses how being banned from enrolling in an Orange County grade school because of her skin tone and Mexican surname inspired Sylvia Mendez’s family to fight for integrated schools. Soon they were joined by many others, including the NAACP and the Japanese American Citizens League, which led to a hard-won victory. Tonatiuh’s multimedia artwork showcases period detail in his trademark folk-art style.
Sharuko: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello. By Monica Brown. Illus. by Elisa Chavarri. Tr. by Adriana Domínguez. 2020. 40p. Lee & Low (9780892394234). Gr. 2–5. 930.1092.Vibrant illustrations and a detailed bilingual text come together to tell the inspiring story of Julio C. Tello, the first Indigenous archaeologist of the Americas and an important figure of Peruvian history. Chavarri’s gorgeous watercolor-and-gouache illustrations bring to life Tello’s family, his ancestors, moments—both beautiful and dark—from the history of Peru, and the inspiring events of his own life.
When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana. By Michael Mahin. Illus. by Jose Ramirez. 2018. 48p. Atheneum (9781534404137). K–Gr. 3. 787.87.Cuando los ángeles cantan: La historia de la leyenda de rock Carlos Santana. By Michael Mahin. Illus. by Jose Ramirez. Tr. by Alexis Romay. 2021. 48p. Atheneum (9781534462168). K–Gr. 3. 787.87.In exhilarating language, peppered with Spanish words, the narrative brings Santana to San Francisco as his musical abilities, his sense of self, and a growing awareness of injustice fuse, just as his various musical influences—blues, jazz, Afro-Caribbean—fuse to make his sound. Ramirez’s intense, beautifully colored folk art features a mosaic of brown faces, young and old. This title opens the door for discussing the indelible imprint Latino artists left on rock music, a genre largely dominated by white musicians.
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. 2019. 40p. Atheneum (9781481487405). Gr. 1–3. 786.2092.Manos que bailan: Cómo Teresa Carreño tocó el piano para el presidente Lincoln. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. Tr. by Alexis Romay. 2021. 40p. Atheneum (9781534482135). Gr. 1–3. 786.2092.Engle and López pair up again to bring equality to the arts in this picture-book biography of pianist and composer Teresa Carreño. Lopez’s patterned mixed-media illustrations use color to evoke the lushness of Venezuela, the darkness of war, and the beauty of music, earning him a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. Concluding with a historical note, the biography’s vibrant images and language form a melodious composition.
Jessica Agudelo is Supervising Librarian for Children’s Services at the New York Public Library. Most recently she served as chair of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award committee and was chair of NYPL’s debut Spanish language best-of list, Mejores libros para pequeños, in 2019. Jessica comes from a large and vibrant Colombian family and was born and raised in Queens, New York.
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