Hispanic Heritage Month: Junior and Graphic Novels

Check out our recommendations for junior books by Hispanic authors and illustrators.

National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place every year from September 15th to October 15th, and is meant to celebrate the lives and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. All month, we’ll be sharing lists of some of our favorite work from Hispanic authors, illustrators and filmmakers that you can check out with your Plano Public Library card. Check back each week to see selections for all ages.

Librarian Andrea selected some of her favorite junior fiction and graphic novel books with Latinx and/or Hispanic authors and illustrators:

Like most books for kids of this age range, the titles we’re sharing focus on big life changes and difficult situations. The characters and historical figures in these stories stand up for what they think is right, take risks, make mistakes, and learn about themselves. It’s not all serious, though, and there are plenty of funny moments in here too. You may recognize some of these authors from our previous posts on picture books, and some will show up again when we cover young adult books next week. This is a great opportunity for everyone in your home to try books by these authors, no matter your age.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (2019 Newberry Medal) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book (coming soon)| Large Print | Playaway | eBook

Like most sixth graders, Merci Suárez has kind of a lot going on. She doesn’t feel like she fits in at school, her grandfather Lolo has been acting strange, and it seems like no one in her family wants to talk about what’s going on. Whatever age she’s writing for, Medina captures difficult emotions and changes in a relatable way for her readers. Kids will be able to relate to Merci’s attempts to balance everything going on. A sequel is scheduled for next year, so you have plenty of time to get started.


The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America by Jaime Hernandez (2019-2020 Bluebonnet Book Award List) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book

The folktales included in this graphic novel come from across Latin America and have been written up by well known Latina authors. Hernandez’s illustrations are expressive and vibrant, and the graphic novel format helps to tell a more in-depth story. There are only three tales, but they’re told and illustrated exceptionally well. Besides, a sample might be all you need to be interested in seeking out more Latin American folktales and stories (we have plenty!)


Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina (2017 Pura Belpré Author Award) | Print Book | Playaway

Based on the author’s own childhood, this charming book tells the story of Juana and her dog Lucas as she grows up in her hometown of Bogotá, Colombia. She loves soccer and brussels sprouts, enjoys spending time with her friends and her abuelos, and absolutely hates her English classes in school. Though this isn’t technically a graphic novel, there are illustrations on every page, and Medina plays around with text size and arrangement to enhance the story. This is a really fun one, as is the follow-up Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas.


Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle (2018-2019 Bluebonnet Book Award List) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book | eBook

Engle’s book of poetry features pieces about Latin American and Hispanic figures including poets, librarians, botanists, and baseball players. Engle highlights people who may not come immediately to mind, but are important to Latinx and American history.


Lola Levine: Drama Queen by Monica Brown (2017 Texas Bluebonnet Reading List) | Print Book | eBook

The Lola Levine series features the adventures of a seven year old with a lot of enthusiasm and personality, which sometimes gets her into trouble. Kids will be able to relate to Lola’s triumphs and her mistakes, as well as her relationships with her friends and family. Drama Queen was on the Bluebonnet Reading List in 2017, but all six books in the series are great.


The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor, 2019 Lone Star Reading List)| Print Book | Playaway | eBook

Malú is not enjoying her first day of school. She doesn’t fit in, the principal already doesn’t like her, and now her dad lives so far away that it feels hard to talk to him about her problems. Once Malú decides to just be herself, she makes new friends and even starts a band. The First Rule of Punk is all about self-expression, standing up for what you think is right, and being true to yourself.


Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2002 Pura Belpré Author Medal) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book | CD Book | eBook | eAudiobook

This well-known historical fiction novel follows Esperanza and her mother as they leave Mexico for the United States to work on a farm during the Great Depression. In the year from her thirteenth to fourteenth birthdays, Esperanza learns about her place in the world and faces many difficult decisions. Although it’s a difficult year for her, Ryan’s final note is one of hope for Esperanza, her friends, and her family.


The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor, 2018 Lone Star Reading List) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book | CD Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Arturo is looking forward to a relaxed summer vacation hanging out with the cool new girl at his apartment complex and working a few shifts at his abuela’s restaurant. He wasn’t expecting real estate developers to interrupt his summer by trying to take over his neighborhood. This is a story about the power of art and community in fighting for what you believe in, and it’s a great way to talk about how what’s important to us in our community, city, and beyond.


Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres (2018 Texas Bluebonnet Reading List) | Print Book | Spanish Print Book | eBook

Stef Soto is tired of smelling like tacos. She’d love it if her dad would get a normal job and she could forget all about Tia Perla, the family taco truck. But when it finally seems like Tia Perla will have to be retired, Stef will have to work hard to save the truck and what it means for her family. Kids will relate to Stef seeking independence and trying to be her own person, the difficulty she has with a former friend, and the way she sticks by her family even when they sometimes embarrass her.


Be sure to check out our Hispanic Heritage Month blog posts throughout the next month to see book lists for all ages.

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