This list of Read in Color recommended reads explores experiences from the Latinx community. These titles are recommended by Little Free Library’s Diverse Books Advisory Group and others. The list of books includes options for early readers, middle and YA readers, and adults and advanced readers.
View all of the Read in Color Recommended Reading lists. These lists are far from exhaustive, but they offer a starting point for exploring different perspectives. We recognize that categorizing books can be limiting and are working to show the intersectionality within our reading lists.
Latinx (Early Readers)
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Alma and How She Got Her Name
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal (32 pp, Candlewick, 2018). If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of the family members that inspired her name. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all—and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. Ages 4 – 8.
Carmela Full of Wishes
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (40 pp, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2018). When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood until they reach the laundromat, where Carmela finds a dandelion. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make… Ages 4 – 8.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (40 pp, Neal Porter Books, 2018). Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed. Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. Ages 4 – 8.
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez (32 pp, Candlewick, 2020). Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend. They do everything together and even live in twin apartments across the street from each other: Daniela with her mami and hamster, and Evelyn with her mami, papi, and cat. But not after today—not after Evelyn moves away. Until then, the girls play amid the moving boxes…until it’s time to say goodbye. Ages 5 – 7.
Hear My Voice
Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States by Warren Binford (96 pp, Workman, 2021). Every day, children in migration are detained at the US-Mexico border. They are scared, alone, and their lives are in limbo. Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz shares the stories of 61 these children, from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico, ranging in age from five to seventeen—in their own words from actual sworn testimonies. Befitting the spirit of the project, the book is in English on one side; then flip it over, and there’s a complete Spanish version. Ages 8 and up.
Mango, Abuela, and Me
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (32 pp, Candlewick, 2017). Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. While they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English, and Mia learns some Spanish, too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn enough words to tell Mia her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfecto idea for how to help them all communicate a little better. Ages 5 – 8.
Martí's Song for Freedom
Martí’s Song for Freedom by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal (32 pp, Lee & Low Books, 2017). A bilingual biography of José Martí, who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual freedom. Written in verse with excerpts from Martí’s seminal work, Versos sencillos. Ages 7 – 10.
Maya’s Blanket by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz (32 pp, Children’s Book Press, 2015). Little Maya has a special blanket that Grandma stitched with her own two hands. As Maya grows, her blanket becomes worn and frayed, so with Grandma s help, Maya makes it into a dress. Over time the dress is made into a skirt, a shawl, a scarf, a hair ribbon, and finally, a bookmark. Each item has special, magical, meaning for Maya; it animates her adventures, protects her, or helps her in some way. But when Maya loses her bookmark, she preserves her memories by creating a book about her adventures and love of these items. When Maya grows up, she shares her book Maya s Blanket/La manta de Maya with her own little daughter while snuggled under her own special blanket. Ages 5 – 8.
Maybe Something Beautiful
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López (40 pp, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016). What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration! Ages 4 – 7.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña (40 pp, Kokila, 2019). When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there. Ages 4 – 8.
Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez (40 pp, Holiday House, 2019). The octopus Grandma is cooking has grown to titanic proportions. “¡Tenga cuidado!” Ramsey shouts. “Be careful!” But it’s too late. The octopus traps Grandma! Ramsey uses both art and intellect to free his beloved abuela. Then the story takes a surprising twist. And it can be read two ways. Open the fold-out pages to find Ramsey telling a story to his family. Keep the pages folded, and Ramsey’s octopus adventure is real. Ages 4 – 8.
Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player (32 pp, HarperCollins, 2021). What’s the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero José! Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator’s pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now. Ages 4 – 8.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar (40 pp, HarperCollins, 2019). When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy. Ages 4 – 8.
Where Are You From?
Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendéz, illustrated by Jaime Kim (40 pp, HarperCollins, 2019). This resonant and award-winning picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom—a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers. Ages 4 – 8.
Where Wonder Grows
Where Wonder Grows by Xelena González, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia (40 pp, Cinco Puntos Press, 2021). A children’s picture book about a grandmother bonding with her granddaughters as she teaches them how much they can learn from nature just by being curious. Grandma knows that there is wondrous knowledge to be found everywhere you can think to look. She takes her girls to their special garden, and asks them to look over their collection of rocks, crystals, seashells, and meteorites to see what marvels they have to show. Ages 3 – 7.
Latinx (Middle Readers)
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Clap When You Land
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, (432 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2020). Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. Ages 14 – 17.
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From
Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon, (336 pp, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2020). First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand. Ages 14 and up.
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado (352 pp, Holiday House, 2021). Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing—he asked Amelia out first. Ages 14 – 17.
Forest World by Margarita Engle (224 pp, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018). Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. Why would he want to visit a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh? Yet now that travel laws have changed and it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited, his mom thinks it’s time for some father-son bonding. This lively middle grade novel tells the story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had. Ages 10 and up.
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (368 pp, Algonquin Young Readers, 2020). In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university. But the path ahead isn’t easy. Ages 14 – 18.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez (368 pp, Ember, 2019). Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. This poignant and often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA novel is about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. Ages 14 – 17.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (368 pp, Candlewick, 2020). Merci Suárez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries, because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Ages 10 – 12.
The Mirror Season
The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (320 pp, Feiwel & Friends, 2021). Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned. But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened. Ages 13 – 18.
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (432 pp, Simon Pulse, 2020). It’s been three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.” Sia knows that her mom must be dead … but one fateful night in the desert, her world cracks wide open. This is an astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life. Ages 12 and up.
Stella Díaz Dreams Big
Stella Díaz Dreams Big by Angela Dominguez (208 pp, Roaring Brook Press, 2021). Stella is happy as a clam in fourth grade. She’s the president of the Sea Musketeers conservation club, she starts taking swim lessons, and she joins a new art club at school. But as her schedule fills up, school gets harder, too. Suddenly the tides have turned, and she is way too busy! Stella will be in an ocean of trouble if she can’t keep her head above water. But with her trusty Sea Musketeers by her side, she hops to make her big dreams come true! Ages 6 – 9.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (272 pp, Puffin Books, 2018). For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex. Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia. Ages 10 and up.
The Poet X
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (384 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2020). Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. Ages 13 – 17.
They Call Me Güero
They Call Me Güero by David Bowles (122 pp, Cinco Puntos Press, 2018). In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd–reader, gamer, musician–who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails. But trusting in his family’s traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Ages 8 – 12.
Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos
Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by LuLu Delacre (256 pp, HarperCollins, 2019). In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more. Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships and celebrate their victories. Ages 8 – 12.
With the Fire on High
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (400 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2019). Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free. Ages 13 and up.
Latinx (Adult Readers)
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Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (272 pp, Algonquin Books, 2020). Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?
Dominicana by Angie Cruz (336 pp, Flatiron Books, 2020). Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape.
Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity by Paola Ramos (336 pp, Vintage, 2020). Young Latinos across the United States are redefining their identities, pushing boundaries, and awakening politically in powerful and surprising ways. Many of them—Afrolatino, indigenous, Muslim, queer and undocumented, living in large cities and small towns—are voices who have been chronically overlooked in how the diverse population of almost sixty million Latinos in the U.S. has been represented. No longer. In this empowering cross-country travelogue, journalist and activist Paola Ramos embarks on a journey to find the communities of people defining the controversial term, “Latinx.”
Fruit of the Drunken Tree
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (320 pp, Anchor, 2019). Seven-year-old Chula lives a carefree life in her gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside her walls. When her mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona’s mysterious ways. Petrona is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls’ families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy.
In the Country We Love
In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero (272 pp, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2017). Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just 14 years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the US, Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family. In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country.
It Is Wood, It Is Stone
It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham (224 pp, One World, 2020). Linda, an anxious and restless American, has moved to São Paulo, with her husband, Dennis, who has accepted a yearlong professorship. As Dennis submerges himself in his work, Linda finds herself unmoored and adrift, feeling increasingly disassociated from her own body. Linda’s unwavering and skilled maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Marta, who is struggling to make sense of complicated history and its racial tensions, is exasperated by Linda’s instability. One day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, whom she joins on a fervent adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone, and ultimately binds Marta and Linda in a profoundly human, and tender, way.
Lost Children Archive
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (401 pp, Vintage, 2019). A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home. Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father. A fiercely imaginative new novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border–an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (320 pp, Del Rey, 2020). After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find and Noemí knows little about the region. An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets, set in a glamorous 1950s Mexico.
Sabrina & Corina: Stories
Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (240 pp, One World, 2020). Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado—a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite—these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.
Slow Lightning by Eduardo Corral (96 pp, Yale University Press, 2012). Seamlessly braiding English and Spanish, Corral’s poems hurtle across literary and linguistic borders toward a lyricism that slows down experience. He employs a range of forms and phrasing, bringing the vivid particulars of his experiences as a Chicano and gay man to the page. Although Corral’s topics are decidedly sobering, contest judge Carl Phillips observes, “one of the more surprising possibilities offered in these poems is joy.”
Tell Me How It Ends
Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli (128 pp, Coffee House Press, 2017). Appealing to the language of the United States’ fraught immigration policy, Luiselli exposes the cracks in this foundation. Herself an immigrant, she highlights the human cost of its brokenness, as well as the hope that it (rather than walls) might be rebuilt.
The House of Broken Angels
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea (336 pp, Back Bay Books, 2019). In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately called Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies, transforming the weekend into a farewell doubleheader. Among the guests is Big Angel’s half brother, known as Little Angel, who must reckon with the truth that although he shares a father with his siblings, he has not, as a half gringo, shared a life.
Where We Come From
Where We Come From by Oscar Cásares (272 pp, Knopf, 2019). From a distance, the towns along the U.S.-Mexican border have dangerous reputations, and Brownsville is no different. But to twelve-year-old Orly, it’s simply where his godmother Nina lives—and where he is being forced to stay the summer after his mother’s sudden death. Nina, however, has a secret: she’s providing refuge for a young immigrant boy named Daniel, for whom traveling to America has meant trading one set of dangers for another. Separated from the violent human traffickers who brought him across the border and pursued by the authorities, Daniel must stay completely hidden. And Orly’s arrival threatens to put them all at risk of exposure. Tackling the crisis of U.S. immigration policy from a deeply human angle, Where We Come From explores through an intimate lens the ways that family history shapes us, how secrets can burden us, and how finding compassion and understanding for others can ultimately set us free.