9 New Latinx Children’s Books for Cozy Fall Reading (Available in Spanish and English!)
By Jaclyn Vitela Jacqmin
As a school librarian, one of the most common requests I get is for engaging books in Spanish, particularly ones that resonate with the diverse identities and experiences of Latinx/Latine students. While there are fantastic children's books written exclusively in Spanish, some of the most exciting new children’s literature published in the United States also features:
Simultaneously publication in both English and Spanish
This is an exciting shift in publishing the past couple of years. Strong examples of this include Yuyi Morales’s last two picture books Soñadores/Dreamers and Lucero/Bright Star, as well as Kat Fajardo’s middle grade graphic novel Miss Quinces/Srta. Quinces. I hope to see more of this!
The text moves strategically between languages to create special meaning unavailable through exclusive use of just one language.
Latinx/Latine authors in translation
Just because it was written in English first doesn’t make it inauthentic! It is a disservice to students to rule out books by Latinx/Latine authors translated into Spanish in ways that resonate culturally and linguistically. Here the translator’s understanding of the nuanced connection between identity, culture, and language matters as much as that of the author’s.
Innovative bilingual formats
Several authors and illustrators are breaking with conventional bilingual book formats. In many newer books, the graphic design situates the English and Spanish text together in creative ways that add depth to the narrative.
Here are 9 new books that reflect one or more of these approaches brilliantly:
Vlad el vampirito fabuloso/Vlad the Fabulous Vampire
Author/Illustrator: Flavia Z. Drago
The author of Gustavo the Shy Ghost and Leila the Perfect Witch introduces Vlad, a rosy cheeked vampire obsessed with fashion. An inspiring message about being yourself is communicated in a visually stunning way, from papel de picado inspired cover art to the clever visual references to calaveras, music, and fashion. Published simultaneously in Spanish and English.
Día de Muertos: Números
Author/Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh
With his signature Mixtec codice inspired artwork, Tonatiuh has created a standout bilingual counting book combining hand drawn images and digital collage. Perfect for preschool to elementary age children celebrating or learning about Día de Muertos.
Cuando tu niñera es una bruja/When Your Babysitter Is a Bruja
Author: Ana Siqueira, Illustrator: Irene Freitas
Translanguaging abounds in If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja. Filled with imaginative play and mischief, this story will delight bilingual elementary children K-3.
Author/Illustrator: Mirelle Ortega
Available in both English and Spanish, this lovely picture book celebrates family and the author’s home town in Veracruz, Mexico. A 2023 Pura Belpré Youth Illustration Honor Book.
Author/Illustrator: Heidi Moreno
In a bilingual book that challenges superstitions about black cats, Luna and Toad go on a search for belonging. After facing bullies and overcoming fear, the duo travel to a magical land filled with calavera inspired characters. I recommend taking a look at other Lil’ Libros bilingual books as well, as they have many sweet offerings.
Words: Christina Diaz, Art: Gabriela Epstein
Any reader comfortable in English or Spanish can read this graphic novel with ease thanks to innovative speech bubbles that offer a translation without interrupting the narrative. Some of the characters speak primarily in English and others in Spanish, while some use both. Middle grade fans of realist fiction will enjoy this graphic novel as themes of identity and friendship are explored and stereotypes are challenged.
Words: Claribel A. Ortega, Art: Rose Bousamra
This graphic novel available in English and Spanish explores Marlene’s evolving relationship to her own hair and her family’s Dominican heritage. Anti-Blackness, grief, identity, and joy are all explored in this 2023 Pura Belpré winner.
Middle Grade Chapter Books
Author: Celia C. Pérez
Published in English and Spanish, Tumble is the story of Addie, who meets her biological father for the first time at age 12, while trying to decide on if she wants her stepfather to adopt her or not. Lucha libre culture takes center stage in this novel of family and nuance. Pérez received a 2023 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Honor for this book.
Author: Claribel A. Ortega
Witchings is a middle grade novel with Latina Harry Potter energy. My upper elementary students literally cheered when they found out this book existed. Perfect for fans of fantasy, this is the first in the Witchings series. Available in English and Spanish.
I hope you’ve found some books here you are excited to share with the children in your life. While Hispanic Heritage month wrapped up mid-October, Madison Reading Project will be helping you to celebrate Latinx/Latine children’s literature all year long!
About the Author:
Jaclyn Vitela Jacqmin serves on MRP’s Board in the role of Past-President. She is a Mexican American school librarian and artist who loves sharing outstanding children’s literature. She holds a MA in Library and Information Studies from UW-Madison and is a certified bilingual educator. When she is not reading, teaching, or creating, you can find her snuggled up with her infant daughter.