According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, there were 249 children’s books featuring Latinx characters published in 2018. That is about 7% of the 3,644 children’s books published last year. With such low percentages, it can be challenging to find books that both feature a diverse character and meet the reading level and interests of your child. But hopefully, we can help! Below is a list of children’s chapter books spanning reading levels and genres, all featuring a Latinx girl as the protagonist.
You may also enjoy these Diverse Early Chapter Books!
11 Chapter Books that Center Latinx Girls
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Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina – What better way to begin this list than with the 2019 Newbery Award Winner by Meg Medina! Merci Suarez is a Cuban-American girl who attends a ritzy private school “on scholarship” as her not-so-nice peers like to point out. The story follows Merci as she navigates her new middle school life and identity. My favorite aspect of this book is the portrayal of Merci’s extended family, who live in a duplex-like apartment complex, where they help each other in a myriad of ways.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez – Sarai Gonzalez, the young activist and YouTube sensation, is the title character and co-author of this new transitional chapter book series. It’s short, uplifting, and sure to inspire young girls to take on new projects and ambitions.
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez – This 2004 Pura Belpre Award Winner won my own heart as a child and was the first time I ever realized that a government sometimes doesn’t work “for the people.” The story follows Anita de la Torre, a young girl growing up in 1960s Dominican Republic under the Trujillo “El Jefe” regime. Her family has been picked out by the government as a part of the opposition, resulting in scary and confusing things happening around her. With this book, Alvarez offers an important story for all ages.
Love Sugar Magic by Anna Mariano – This humorous series starter is steeped in Mexican culture and folklore. Leonora belongs to a family of brujas, Mexican witches, and she is excited to start practicing her inherited magic. However, there is an age restraint on her family’s heritage- girls aren’t supposed to practice magic before the age of 15. But Leonora cannot wait. Instead, she begins practicing in secret and the results are hilarious!
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez – Rebellious Mal starts a band, much to the disapproval of her parents and school’s administration. Perez’s story of punk rock, finding an identity, and defying authority is ultimately about how to be yourself when the odds are against you.
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar – This 2018 Pura Belpre Award Winner is an intersectional tale of a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant named Ruthie whose life is suddenly changed after a car accident, leaving her in a body cast. Despite the unfortunate event, Ruthie holds onto her identity and interests, and grows a lot along the way.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munez Ryan – Ryan’s award-winning book, Esperanza Rising, has become a modern classic, being assigned in schools nationwide and not without good reason. One of the earliest examples of mainstream children’s books featuring a Latinx girl, the story follows Esperanza during the Great Depression, as her family moves from Mexico to a camp for farm workers in California.
Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer – Palmer’s sports-filled, diary-style chapter book (that’s now a series!) is sure to be a hit with a fans of Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The story is filled with middle school humor, embarrassing moments, and lots of action to keep the audience interested.
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya – The author of several critically acclaimed middle grade books, Pablo Cartaya’s August release is sure to be a great addition to the world of diverse books centering Latinx voices. The story follows Emilia as she navigates her relationship with her father, who has recently returned from deployment. Cartaya has said that the story is loosely based on his own, often interesting, experience with his tweenage daughter.
The Moon Within by Aida Salazar – Celi is a Afrolatinx girl who is growing up. She has a best friend, a crush, and is waiting on her period. In many ways, this is a classic story. In other ways, it’s completely revolutionary. The portrayal of Mexica and Yoruba heritage is a rare delight and the story unapologetically uses lots of Spanish and Nuathl making it an exceptional mirror and window in the world of kid lit.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez – An early installment of the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint, aimed at centering mythology and folklore from all over the world, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe is a fantasy with lots of humor and quirks. The book has garnered rave reviews from critics and fans, with many on Goodreads pointing out its vivid setting and lovable characters.
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