Monday, October 10, 2016

Latina girl power! Chapter books with Latina characters (ages 6-9)

Latino students are the fastest growing group in American schools. I was particularly struck last week by a new report highlighting this (see this NPR article), and how much it matches my own experiences as a teacher and community member. The report by The National Council of La Raza finds that Latino students are making significant gains, increasing high school graduation rate, but that challenges remain--especially with reading.

How can books help change this? Latino students need Latino role models, especially in the stories they read. This is especially important for girls. We must provide stories that include and share their voices. So today, I'd like to share five chapter books full of Latina girl power.
These new short chapter books feature strong, lively Latina girls. They are energetic and fun, with a modern sensibility. These girls solve problems, tackle challenges and embrace the love that their family and friends bring them. Most of all, they bring joy to our students, making reading a joyful, meaningful experience.

Chews Your Destiny: The Gumazing Gum Girl, by Rhode Montijo -- When Gabby Gomez realizes that a piece of special gum gives her stretch-tastic superpowers, she’s thrilled, discovering all sorts of ways to help out those in need.

Big News: Emma on the Air, by Ida Siegal -- Emma Perez dreams big and bold. She wants to be FAMOUS! When she sees an investigative reporter on the TV news, she knows that this is just the career for her.

Juana and Lucas, by Juana Medina -- Juana is an energetic, opinionated Colombian girl, who loves drawing, reading comic books and playing fútbol. but learning English is muy hard. Readers will enjoy Juana's high-spirits, zest for life and sense of humor, even as she struggles with one disaster after another.

Lola Levine Is Not Mean, by Monica Brown -- Lola's personality shines through in this series opener, as she apologizes to a classmate after fouling her in a soccer match. Although some kids tease her, calling her Mean Lola Levine, she shows them that she can be a Soccer Queen. Her bicultural family--Jewish, Peruvian--is an important source of humor and delightful inspiration.

My Family Adventure: Sofia Martinez, by Jacquline Jules -- Seven-year-old Sofia likes to stand out in her family. She does all sorts of things to get noticed -- from wearing a huge hair bow to making her grandmother a piñata for her birthday. This early chapter book is full of charm and kid appeal.

I must say that I have had a much harder time gathering a collection of books with young Latino boys as the central characters. I'd love any recommendations you might be able to share.

Many thanks to these publishers for kindly sending review copies: Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, Candlewick, Little Brown, and Capstone. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Thank you so much, Mary Ann! I am honored to see Sofia included in this list. You asked for suggestions of books with Latino boys as the central character. I am excited to share that the sixth title in my Zapato Power series featuring Freddie Ramos, the boy with super-powered sneakers was just released. It's called Freddie Ramos Rules New York. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for including SOFIA MARTINEZ on your list! For your Latino boys list, we highly recommend our new PEDRO series, starring Katie Woo's best friend.

  3. Love this list! There's some that are new to me, and some that I KNOW are awesome. Thanks for sharing!