15 Joy-Filled Latinx Books for Emerging and Independent Readers

From board books to middle grade graphic novels, these illustrated narratives celebrate Latinx children and their communities.

Artwork from Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menéndez, illus. by author (Holt, 2021).

When children reach the stage of independent readers, their interests, personalities, and social environments influence their reading choices. Librarians guide and assist them in paving their individual paths through their reading journeys, and we should respect and provide choices tailored to their interests. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all or leveled reading journey that kids should feel pressured to take.

The titles featured here, by Latinx and Latin American creators, range in vocabulary and length, genre, format, and language. They reflect the ongoing conversations regarding identities, and how Latinx or Latin American communities in and outside the United States are influenced by social events and natural disasters, circular migrations, and colonial and political interlocking oppressions.

The identities of these featured creators emanate from former Spanish colonies or Spanish-speaking countries. This list includes titles in English and Spanish. From board books to middle grade graphic novels, the narratives and illustrations reflect the joys, existence, and resistances of our communities and children—important elements to help kids on their individual and collective reading journeys.


Early Readers

Otheguy, Emma. Reina Ramos Meets a BIG Puppy. illus. by Andrés Landazábal. (Reina Ramos). HarperCollins. 2023. ISBN 9780063223158.
PreS-Gr 2–Reina Ramos likes to play and have fun with her best friend Lila at the park in her big city. One day Lila gets a big new dog that interferes with their friendship and playtime. Through short sentences and a simple story, this new I Can Read! series title with a Cuban American protagonist tackles first experiences, emotions, and life in the city.

Salazar, Alicia. Camila the Talent Show Star. illus. by Thais Damião. (Camila the Star). Capstone/Picture Window. 2022. ISBN 9781663958716.
K-Gr 2–In this beginning reader series, Mexican American Camila is excited to sing at the school talent show. A schoolmate selects the same song she does, and Camila experiences a series of emotions. She eventually learns to share space (and the stage) with other people.

Santos-Febres, Mayra. Aidara en el País de las Nubes. illus. by Mrinali Álvarez Astacio. (El Barco de Vapor). Ediciones SM. 2016. ISBN 9781939075666.
PreS-Gr 2–An illustrated early reader by two Puerto Rican creators filled with fantasy, solidarity, and empowerment. Aidara enjoys spending time with her mom at the park and playing on the swings. One day she swings higher than usual and reaches “el país de las nubes.” It is here where Aidara meets several princesses trapped in their castles waiting for “their prince charming.” The young girl will not only liberate them from the castles, but also from the patriarchy and traditional gender expectations.


Chapter Books

Brown, Monica. Lola Levine Is Not Mean! illus. by Angela Dominguez. (Lola Levine: Bk. 1). Little, Brown. 2015. ISBN 9780316258364.
Gr 1-5–Lola Levine likes soccer, spending time with her Jewish Peruvian family, and defying expectations. In this first book of an early chapter series, Lola navigates school dynamics, being “too competitive” on the soccer field, and her wish to have a new pet. Her spunky personality, desires, and frustrations are portrayed through her “Dear Diario” entries, which will ring true to the experiences of many young readers.

Gonzalez, Sarai & Monica Brown. Sarai Saves the Music. illus. by Christine Almeda. (Sarai Gonzalez: Bk. 3). Scholastic. 2019. ISBN 9781338260946.
Gr 2-5–Energetic and creative Peruvian American Sarai likes music and connecting with family and friends. When her school music program is threatened with budget cuts, everyone collaborates to create videos and music for a concert to raise awareness of the importance of music education in public schools. A short early chapter book about the power of music, community, and solidarity.

Montijo, Rhode with Luke Reynolds. Cover Blown. illus. by Rhode Montijo. (The Gumazing Gum Girl!: Bk. 4). Little, Brown. 2019. ISBN 9781368048170.
K-Gr 3–Gabby Gomez, aka the Gumazing Gum Girl, is back for a new adventure that takes her to Mexico with her family. While in her family’s homeland, Gabby learns that her uncle is an archaeologist and a luchador, and action-packed stunts begin. This latest trip helps Gum Girl not only develop new skills, but also learn more about her Mexican heritage. This hybrid chapter book series installment will satisfy fans and draw in new readers.

Novales, Keka. Lola and the New School. illus. by Gloria Félix. (¡Hola, Lola!) Capstone/Picture Window. 2022. ISBN 9781666337259.
Gr 2-4–In this new early chapter book series, readers meet Lola, who is anxious about starting second grade at a new school in the middle of the year. Lola must manage her jitters while making new friends, talking in front of the class, and fitting in. With the help of her mom and abuelita from Guatemala, Lola learns to be brave and embrace changes and new things.

Torres, Jennifer. Skateboard Star. illus. by Gladys Jose. (Catalina Incognito: Bk. 4). S. & S./Aladdin. 2022. ISBN 9781534483132.
Gr 1-4–Catalina is super organized, likes to plan, and loves to sew with her sewing club at the library. Her sister Coco is into skateboarding, but has lost her confidence; this is an opportunity for Catalina to use her skills and magic to support and encourage her sister. This fourth installment of an early chapter book series is filled with sewing magic, mystery, and family drama.


Edelman, Claudia Romo & J. Gia Loving. Hispanic Star: Sylvia Rivera. illus. by Cheyne Gallarde. (Hispanic Star). Roaring Brook. 2023. ISBN 9781250828163.
Gr 2-6–A comprehensive chapter book biography of Puerto Rican/Venezuelan American activist Sylvia Rivera and her life and work as a BIPOC trans rights advocate. The narrative of Sylvia’s existence and resistances is enhanced by the inclusion of historical and political contexts. This book also tackles the transphobia, racism, and classism that still exists within LGBTQIA+ communities, and society at large, today.

Edelman, Claudia Romo & Sara E. Echenique. Hispanic Star: Roberto Clemente. illus. by Manuel Gutierrez. (Hispanic Star). Roaring Brook. 2022. ISBN 9781250828088.
Gr 2-6–Legendary Puerto Rican baseball player and activist Roberto Clemente is showcased in this chapter book biography series entry that provides depth to the usual picture book biographies about his life and work. In addition to highlighting Clemente’s story, records, and achievements, this informational book also provides historical, social, and political contexts for the experiences, injustices, and oppressions faced by Clemente and Black Latinxs in Puerto Rico and in the States.

González, Martha. A de Activista. illus. by Innosanto Nagara. Seven Stories/Triangle Square. 2014. ISBN 9781609805692.
PreS-Gr 4–In this Spanish edition of A is for Activist, Chicana artivist González mirrors the same concepts and ideologies of the original source to empower young activists. This “small book” with “big words” provides themes and tools from our everyday life, historical figures and narratives, and current injustices and oppressions that can guide open conversations.

Liu-Trujillo, Robert. Art of Rob: Volume 1. illus. by author. Come Bien. 2022. ISBN 9780996717816.
Gr 3 Up–Incorporating and alternating among sketches, portraits, short stories, and typographies, Afro-Asian Latinx artist, writer, and community organizer Liu-Trujillo has crafted a project to inspire and support young artists. Readers will love the how-to pieces and will also learn about the existence and resistances of various BIPOC peoples and communities.

Menéndez, Juliet. Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers. illus. by author. Holt/Godwin. 2021. ISBN 9781250234629.
Gr 3-6–This collective biography by Guatemalan American artist Menéndez showcases a breadth of life experiences and stories of 40 outstanding Latinas and Latin American women. The volume features representation across different countries, areas of work, identities, and interests. Vibrant portraits accompany each profile. Familiar and new Latinitas will inspire young readers and adults alike.

Graphic Novels

García, Lucas. Superhéroe. illus. by author. Ediciones Ekaré. 2017. ISBN 9789802573653.
Gr 3-5–Gabriel and his family move from Venezuela to Spain, where he encounters a new school, new words, new culture, and archenemies at school. This comics-and-superhero-loving boy uses his imagination, powers, and humor to face the challenges and changes in his path. Mixing comic strips and prose, this hybrid younger middle grade novel will resonate with readers who enjoy action-packed, funny stories.

Roselló, Jarod. Red Panda & Moon Bear. illus. by author. (Red Panda & Moon Bear: Bk. 1). Top Shelf. 2019. ISBN 9781603094443.
Gr 3-7–Two Cuban American siblings, aka Red Panda and Moon Bear, embark on a series of adventures to save their South Florida town. From haunted libraries to dogs from outer space, this action-packed graphic novel is filled with humorous and engaging text and illustrations. Fantasy, imagination, and mystery permeate this title, which will engage readers and it deserves to be in every collection.

Sujei Lugo Vázquez is a children’s librarian and independent researcher whose heart, body, and soul travels between Boston and Puerto Rico.

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