Hispanic Heritage Month: Young Adult

Check out our recommendations for young adult 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 young adult books by Latinx and Hispanic authors, as well as some that are sitting in the to-be-read pile. This list shows the variety of genres available if you’re seeking out Hispanic/Latinx authors, but there are plenty we haven’t touched on (romance, horror, western…), so there’s more to explore.

These books include family secrets, life-changing romances, contemplations on nature, and international adventures. As with our previous lists, these authors have plenty of other books to check out, and we highly suggest looking beyond these picks.

Realistic Fiction

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña | Print Book | eBook

Matt de la Peña has been featured in our Latinx/Hispanic picture book list, but he actually started out writing for young adults. A hallmark of his work is the complexity of his characters, and this story about a boy between two worlds is a prime example. Danny feels too Mexican for his school friends, but too white with his Mexican-American family. Over a summer visit spend playing sports and avoiding fights, Danny’s relationships with his mom and his cousins change as he starts to understand how he fits into both of his worlds.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (2014 Pura Belpré Author Award) | Print Book | CD Book

Things are already hard enough for Piddy Sanchez. And now some girls are telling her that Yaqui Delgado hates her—hates how she talks, how she acts, and hates that she’s trying to steal her boyfriend. Except Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is. Meg Medina has also appeared on our previous lists, and this Pura Belpré Award-winning novel is a great example of her range. Medina used childhood experiences to write this story of a girl who doesn’t fit in finding a way to stand up for herself.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez | Print Book | Spanish Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

The feeling of not being good enough, of being compared to others, is pretty universal. In Erika L. Sánchez’s first young adult novel, we meet Julia. Her entire family is grieving after the death of her perfect older sister, and Julia constantly feels like she can’t measure up. But as time goes on, and her family members all cope in different ways, Julia starts to learn more about her sister and sees Olga, and her parents, in a different light.

Others to try:

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales (2006 Pura Belpré Author Award) | Print Book

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera | Print Book | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris YA Debut Award winner) |Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Historical Fiction

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2013 Pura Belpré Author Award, 2013 Printz Award Winner, 2013 Stonewall Book Award) | Print Book | CD Book | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook

When Ari and Dante meet at the pool one summer, they . The emotional and talkative Dante tries to get Aristotle to open up, while Ari wants his friend to learn to protect himself and his feelings. Set in El Paso in 1987, this is a story about family secrets, first love, and figuring out who you’re meant to be. If you’re a Hamilton fan, check out the audiobook read by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is an author and poet who has written fiction and nonfiction for all ages, but her young adult books often focus on historical figures from her family’s native Cuba. From abolitionists to suffragists to refugees fleeing the Holocaust, she shares historically-based stories that don’t always get a lot of attention.

Jazz Owls : a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots | Print Book
The Firefly Letters | Print Book
The Lightning Dreamer | Print Book

Others to try:

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín (2015 Pura Belpré Author Award) | Print Book

The Maps of Memory by Marjorie Agosín (Butterfly Hill sequel, coming soon) | Print Book

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina | Print Book

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe García McCall | Print Book

This retelling of The Odyssey uses figures from Mexican culture and mythology to help tell the story of the Garcia sisters’ journey. Odilia and her sisters take a trip from Texas to Mexico to deliver a body, but the journey back might be more harrowing. This combo of fantasy and magical realism is also, at its heart, a story about sisterly bonds and how we rebuild after

Others to try:

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older | Print Book | Playaway | CD Book | eAudiobook

Cemetery Boys  by Aiden Thomas | Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante | Print Book

Poetry and Verse

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (2019 Pura Belpré Author Award, 2019 Printz Award Winner) | Print Book | Large Print Book | CD Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Elizabeth Acevedo’s books in verse reflect her lived experience as a Dominican-American person. The Poet X is the story of Xiomara, a girl who is rebelling against her mom’s strict rules. When she joins the school’s slam poetry club, she finds a unique way to express herself and share the thoughts she’s been secretly writing in her notebook.

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles (2019 Pura Belpré Author Award  Honor, Texas Bluebonnet Award 2020 Book List) | Print Book | eBook This book of poetry describes the split life of a kid living near the Texas-Mexico border. Güero reflects his family and friends and his everyday struggles, but Bowles also includes descriptions of South Texas’ nature and landscapes mixed into those musings. As Güero discovers a love for reading and writing poetry, he learns more about what it means to live on the border between two worlds.


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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