Mexico and the United States share a 1,933-mile border. The flow of people between our two countries has led to a beautiful mix of language, food, and tradition that is both beautiful and unique. These stories, which are both from and inspired by Mexico, show off the many different things that make Mexican culture so unique and interesting. From picture books to middle-grade novels, we’ve found some great stories about Mexican traditions that we hope your whole family will enjoy. You can read about them here.
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
It’s not just girls who can join the world of lucha libre. Nio can take on anyone with ease. It’s time to bring out the sisters, the Guanajuato Mummy, and even some Spanish words.
Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Mexican food has a long and tasty history, from warm tortillas to hearty bean soup to bright guacamole. In this story, Jorge Argueta brings one of these well-known dishes to life through poetry and recipes that are simple to follow. In addition to Guacamole, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, and Tomalitos, Argueta has many other titles.
What Can You Do With a Paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales
Paletes have never been my thing, but after reading this story, I want one of these frozen fruity Mexican popsicles so bad. It’s fun to learn about other cultures and enjoy the many flavors of traditional dishes, including desserts. I’m going to put one of these on my “must-try” list.
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh
We enjoy great stories because they make us think about the world around us. As in The Princess and the Warrior, which tells the story of a princess and a warrior called Izta and how their love led to two volcanoes. In the past, when I flew into Mexico City, I looked at the huge volcanoes. I didn’t know about the Aztec myth about how they came to be until I read Tonatiuh’s beautiful story.
The beautiful, humble, and strong princess Izta turned down many powerful suitors. When she met Popoca, she fell in love with him instead. He would only let Izta marry Popoca if he could defeat the ruler of a nearby kingdom, Jaguar Claw. When Jaguar Claw comes up with a plan to fool Popoca, the two fight. Her love will never see her again. 4 to 8 years old should use this.
Diego by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
If you read this biography of Diego Rivera, you’ll learn about not only his art but also his native language, which is both beautiful and interesting to kids.
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
There are a lot of skulls and skeletons in Mexican art, but they aren’t meant to scare people, per se. José Guadalupe Posada, an artist and creator, made it possible for skeletons, or calaveras, to do all kinds of things on Mexico’s Day of the Dead, which is called the Day of the Dead.
The Dead Family Díaz by P.J. Bracegirdle, illustrated by Poly Bernatene
I’ve always thought of the Mexican Day of the Dead from my point of view, as a living person. But I had never thought about things from the point of view of the skeleton before. Before I read The Dead Family Diaz, I didn’t know about it. He is the only one who can help Angelito if he gets lost in the Land of the Living. He is a boy who is very soft and very alive.
Just a Minute! A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
When Death asked Grandma Beetle to “Come Along,” the clever beetle came up with a long list of chores that had to be done before she could go anywhere. You can be creative and teach your kids to count to 10 in Spanish at the same time, and the kids will love it!
The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie DePaola
This story is about a clever rabbit who plays pranks on a Coyote who doesn’t know what he’s doing. A fun story that also explains why coyotes howl at the moon, which is why they do it.
Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez
In many cases, immigrant families live very far apart from each other, so family visits are very rare and very special. To get everyone to sing, Abuelo takes out his guitar and says “Sing, don’t cry.” Music and memories are celebrated in this book about the author’s grandfather who visited her as a child. It’s also about family, which is the most important thing in the world to her.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
On Mali’s first day of school, things aren’t going well. When a popular girl saw her, she was angry. Her punk style is against what she can wear to school, and it made the popular girl angry. Mal doesn’t know how she’ll make it through the year until she finds a group of friends who are just as unique as she is and who are willing to fight for their own freedom.
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
Two families are brought together in a time of need, and their friendship and respect grows. To save their farm, Tyler’s family hires migrant Mexican workers, including Mari’s father, to work for them. This brings two very different cultures together, and it changes everyone.
Who Was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny and Who HQ, illustrated by Jerry Hoare
Even though Frida Kahlo had physical problems for most of her life, her art was an explosion of color, refusing to be limited by the physical world around her. Kahlo is an artist who will be around for a long time because of her big eyebrows and love for her home country, Mexico.
What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau
Clara has lived in the United States her whole life. She was born and raised here. In the past, she never went to Mexico, where her father was born, but now she has. They have invited Clara to spend the summer with them. Clara is going to find out how different their rural home is and how much she can learn from her family and history.