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Sept. 18, 2023 – September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month, and Cedar Rapids Public Library Materials librarian Kim Martens-Tyo selected 16 children's book to celebrate.

"I look for award winning books, beautiful illustrations, and a great story," she said. "Stories about people that reflect culture, location, passion, resilience, kindness, creativity, and life celebrations! Learning about others, in other cultures and places, is exciting. As a reader, we get transformed into the book’s place and time. It is a brilliant way to learn of other cultures and people."

Scroll through the list below and click the covers to put the books on hold in our catalog today. Book descriptions come from the library catalog or the publisher.

"Islandborn" by Junot Diaz

Lola was just a baby when her family left the Island, so when she has to draw it for a school assignment, she asks her family, friends, and neighbors about their memories of her homeland ... and in the process, comes up with a new way of understanding her own heritage.

"Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music" by Margarita Engle

Follows a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.

"Across the Bay" by Carlos Aponte

Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.

"Elena's Serenade" by Campbell Geeslin

In Mexico, a little girl disguised as a boy sets out for Monterrey, determined to master the art of glassblowing, and in the process, experiences self-discovery along the way.

"Dreamers" by Yuyi Morales

An illustrated picture book in which award-winning author Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story.

"Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood" by F. Isabel Campoy

Mira lives in a gray and hopeless urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy, and togetherness to Mira and her neighbors.

"A Gift From Abuela" by Cecilia Ruiz

The first time Abuela held Niña, her heart overflowed with tenderness. And as Niña grows up, she and Abuela have a lot of fun doing simple things. Abuela decides that she wants to buy Niña a special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week. But then something terrible happens, and Abuela's dream of a surprise for Niña seems impossible. Luckily, the time they spend together and the love they have for each other are the best gifts of all.

"Nosotros Means Us: Un Cuento Bilingüe – A Bilingual Story" by Paloma Valdiva

As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

"My Two Border Towns" by David Bowles

A boy and his father cross the United States-Mexico border every other Saturday, visiting their favorite places, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.

"Señorita Mariposa" by Mister G

Illustrations and easy-to-read text in English and Spanish follow monarch butterflies on their journey from Canada to Mexico. Includes author's note on how to help protect monarch butterflies. Available as a Wonderbook!

"Areli is a Dreamer: A True Story" by Areli Morales

DACA dreamer Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story of moving from a quiet town in Mexico to the bustling and noisy metropolis of New York City.

"Where are You From?" by Yamile Saied Mendez

This resonant picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. 

"Antonio's Amazing Gift" by Naibe Reynoso

Inspired by characters and scenes from Encanto, this brightly illustrated picture book celebrates a love of animals, new friends, and magical gifts.

"Julián is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he's seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?

"Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln" by Margarita Engle

In soaring words and stunning illustrations, Margarita Engle and Rafael López tell the story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.

"Gustavo, the Shy Ghost" by Flavia Z. Drago

This winning debut picture book from Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago about finding the courage to make friends is perfect for the spooky season – or anytime.