Creating “reading lists” is a time-honored tradition in the world of book reviewing—there are back-to-school lists, lists that celebrate particular holidays, and of course, the ubiquitous summer reading list. After more than 15 years in the children’s book industry and many years as a professional book reviewer, I’ve put together a list or two. So I thought I’d share some of my recent favorites with Mamiverse readers, sure to make for great summer reads for your kids of all ages.
Whether you are looking for baby shower gifts this summer, welcoming your own little one with the help of his or her budding library, or looking for ways to keep your school-aged kids occupied and interested in reading during these months when they are out of school, here are some wonderful books that include the added benefit of celebrating our culture and language. For this list, I decided to include as many of the newer Latino-interest titles as possible to give those books another opportunity to catch the eyes of readers, and to help our mamis and their children keep up with what is currently being published. So you will find no classics here—though I’d be willing to bet that this list includes some future classics! And of course, some of the books, with their mentions of “paletas” or “public pools,” just scream “summer” to me! All of the titles on this list are excellent and certainly worth your kids’ time—and yours, because many of them are being enjoyed by adults as well as kids!
Read Related: What Are ‘Diverse’ Children’s Books?
While the original English editions of these two books are considered modern classics, their bilingual formats, brilliantly translated by award-winning authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, are brand-spanking new! The rhyming Spanish is just as appealing and engaging as the original English—a rare feat—making these two perfect choices for bilingual bedtime reading.
You Are My Baby Series Written and Illustrated by Lorena Siminovich
An innovative format that enables toddlers to “read” the smaller version of the books along with their caregivers and charming artwork makes this series a winner and these little darlings the perfect baby shower gift!
Higher! Higher!/¡Más alto! ¡Más alto! Written and Illustrated by Leslie Patricelli
Leslie Patricelli can do no wrong in our home—we love anything she does and my toddler just can’t get enough of her brightly colored, engaging books. So you can imagine how thrilled we were when we learned that some of her titles would be released in bilingual format. We love this one, and can’t wait for the upcoming bilingual format of “Faster! Faster!” due out in August. Another bonus: both of these titles feature fully engaged papás!
PICTURE BOOKS (Ages 3-8)
Canta, Rana, Canta/Sing, Froggie, Sing Illustrated by Carolyn Flores
This cumulative tale/song will be familiar to almost every familia, and kids will love to sing along, again—and again!
What Can You Do with a Paleta? By Carmen Tafolla, Illustrated by Magaly Morales
Who doesn’t love a cool paleta in the summer heat? Tafolla’s book is excellent for teaching colors, flavors and more, and a wonderful celebration of a child’s imagination.
It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden Written and Illustrated by George Ancona
Whether it’s in your backyard, balcony, or a shiny new pot, summer is a great time to garden with your kids. This book will provide plenty of inspiration and ideas for you both.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote Written and Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
As the immigration debate heats up this summer, this allegorical tale may help you to discuss with your kids the real human stories that lie at the heart of it. Check out our review here.
Niño Wrestles the World Written and Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Recommending a book by award-winning author/illustrator Yuyi Morales is a no-brainer, but I predict (or at least hope!) that this book will be the first in a series featuring this charming little lucha wrestler and his twin baby sisters. If you’ve ever wondered if a book can be both funny and endearing, pick up this one. You’ll be glad you did!
MIDDLE GRADE (Ages 8-12)
How Tía Lola Saved the Summer by Julia Alvarez
The third installment in Alvarez’s Tía Lola series of middle grade novels will inspire you and your kids to have a more fun and adventure-filled summer.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This novel has been on the New York Times best sellers list since it published in early 2012, spurred an anti-bullying campaign, and will soon be turned into a movie. So what are you waiting for? Get caught up and read it before the movie comes out! My interview with R.J. Palacio was also my first for Mamiverse Books.
The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Peter Sis
Summer is the perfect time for daydreaming, and this award winning, beautifully imagined illustrated biography of a young Pablo Neruda is perfect for dreamers and poetry lovers alike.
YOUNG ADULT (Ages 12 and up)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This stirring, award-winning novel about two boys’ journey into self-discovery after a fateful meeting at their local public pool features two of the most compelling and charming teen characters I’ve come across in a while. It is an essential read for the LBGT teens in your life, and a powerful celebration of romantic and familial love for everyone.
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
With a title like this, it’s clear why this novel made our list! But you should also know that Garcia McCall is an up-and-coming award-winning Latina author who has racked up a number of awards over the past couple of years. This latest novel in particular has been celebrated by feminist organizations seeking strong female role models in teen’s books.
You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens Edited by Sarah Cortez
Who doesn’t love to kick back with a good mystery? This fast-paced short story collection may be just what your reluctant reader needs to get excited about books.
Border Town Series by Malín Alegría
Dubbed the “Latino Sweet Valley High,” this fun series is poised to become the quintessential “summer read” for girls on this side of the border who want to see themselves (and the boys they like!) in the books they read.
As always, I encourage you to add your favorites in the comments below so that all families can benefit and we can all have lots of books to choose from this summer.
Happy summer reading! —Adriana