Ten Middle-Grade Novels that Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

I did the display for Hispanic Heritage Month at my oldest daughter’s middle school’s Information Center. It was a great experience, and it inspired me to compile a book list of middle-grade novels written by Hispanic American authors about the experiences of Hispanic Americans. I hope you guys enjoy it!

Hispanic Heritage Month's display done by moi.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis

Julian’s parents decide to send him and his brothers to Florida through the Pedro Pan Operation, as Cuba has fallen under a communist dictatorship. Julian will have to learn to fend for himself in a world that is not what his family expected. 90 Miles to Havana was a 2011 Pura Belpré Honor Book.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suárez is a six-grader going through a hard time. She and her brother, Roli, are attending a fancy private school on scholarships, meaning they are not wealthy like the other kids at school. Merci becomes Edna Santos’ target too. Things at home are not better. Something strange is happening to Merci’s grandfather, Lolo, and her family is hiding the truth. Merci Suárez Changes Gears was the 2019 Newbery Medal.

The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Barcárcel

This is the beautiful story of Quijana Carrillo, a girl who is Guatemalan and American. When her Guatemalan cousins visit, her father realizes that Quijana does not know much about her heritage. She embarks on a journey to discover her bicultural identity. Booklist and School Library Journal gave it starred reviews.

Stef Soto: Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres

Stephanie Soto hopes that her dad finds a “normal” job as soon as possible. She is tired of kids calling her Taco Queen at school because she helps at her Tia Perla’s taco truck. When the city’s bureaucracy threatens her family’s source of income, Stef embraces her identity and finds her voice. It has excellent reviews from the likes of Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Horn Book, and Publisher’s Weekly.

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar

Celi Rivera is a middle-grader with questions about her body, attraction to boys, and her best friend’s gender identity. Meanwhile, her mother insists on a moon ceremony, an ancestral Mexica ritual, when Celi’s first period arrives. Celi does not want the ceremony at all. The Moon Within was a 2019 Kids Indie Next List selection and received multiple starred reviews.

The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Neftalí is a young Chilean boy who hears a voice that he cannot ignore. His father and the kids in the neighborhood make fun of him for it. With a mix of biographical information, magical realism, and captivating illustrations, Muñoz Ryan explores the life of Neftalí—the kid who became the famous poet Pablo Neruda. The Dreamer received several literary awards, including the Pura Belpré Award in 2011 and the Kirkus Best Children’s Book.

They Call Me Güero by David Bowles 

Güero is a Mexican American kid who lives in the border between the United States and Mexico. He enjoys nerdy activities, like reading, and spends time with a group of bookworms called Los Bobbys. Some classmates taunt him at school because he has red hair, freckles, and fair skin. However, Güero’s family tells him that his skin color grants privilege both in the United States and Mexico. This outstanding middle-grade novel written in verse has won numerous literary awards, including the 2019 Pura Belpré Honor Book, the ALSC Notable Children’s Book in 2019, and the 2019 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award.

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Even though he is only in eighth grade, Marcus Vega is six feet tall, weighs 180 pounds, and has what appears to be the beginning of a mustache. His mother takes him and his brother to Puerto Rico after Marcus gets suspended from school. Marcus spends a week on the island, where he meets family members and searches for his father, who walked from their lives ten years ago. School Library Journal and School Library Connection gave it starred reviews.

My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver

Lu Olivera is a sixth-grader girl who has just discovered her gift at the running track. She would like to become friends with Belinda Gresham, another runner at school. Problem is this the year 1970 in Alabama, where classrooms are segregated. As Lu gets involved in the Civil Rights Movement, she learns to fight for what is right. Based on the author’s personal experiences as an Argentinian immigrant growing up in Alabama, this story has excellent reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi become friends after unlikely circumstances that involve the principal’s office. Sal is a magician with extraordinary abilities, like conjuring his dead mother and manipulating time and space in the multiverse. Gabi, a stellar student, takes the news about Sal’s abilities pretty well. So, these two establish a friendship that could change the multiverse. Full of Cuban folklore, this is the first book of the A Sal and Gabi Novel science fiction series. It has starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist.

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2019 | Multicultural Kid BlogsWe are so excited for our eighth annual Hispanic Heritage Month series! Now through October 15, you'll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!

Find even more ideas on our Latin America Pinterest board:

October 7
Spanish Mama
October 10
Jeddah Mom
October 15
Maritere Bellas

Don't miss all of the great posts from previous years as well: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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