Growing up as a Latina in Los Angeles, California, none of the books I read were written by Latinx authors or even depicted anything about my culture. It wasn’t until I entered college that I was finally exposed to more assorted literature. However, there are so many Latinx books from which to choose that little reading-lovers don’t have to feel excluded in this way — they can learn about their diverse backgrounds and cultures from a wide variety of books in which they see themselves.
The following selection of books takes complex topics like identity, immigration, and creative expression and breaks them down for inquisitive minds. “If we want children to develop a love of reading and succeed in school, that has to start with them finding interest in the material. That includes material that reflects their experiences and their own identities,” Jessica Agudelo, chair of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award committee and youth collections coordinator at BookOps, a shared library that serves the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library, tells SheKnows.
And the stories themselves must accurately reflect each unique experience. “The books have to be honest, and there is power in specificity because writing about the experience of Mexican American, Colombian experience, or Puerto Rican [people],” she notes. “The more specific it is, the more it shows how diverse the Latinx community is.”
Here are a few notable book recommendations that not only celebrate Latinx heritage but will cultivate a sense of self in Latinx children.
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