As a child of the 1970s and 1980s, I read the Little House on the Prairie, Ramona Quimby and Judy Blume books, and hung out with Strawberry Shortcake. You can’t get any whiter than Laura Ingalls Wilder and Strawberry Shortcake.
Fortunately, the book and toy industry discovered Latinos after I grew up. Nowadays, Hispanic children have Dora and Diego. Girls can play with a ridiculously overpriced American Girl doll that looks like them. Half-Puerto Rican Carmen Lowell is a character in the popular The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares.
Unlike teenagers, children seem to have more options when it comes to books. Here’s a list of some great resources:
• The great children’s writer Pat Mora features a list of Hispanic children’s writers on her website, in addition to her own books. She created El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day Dia, a day devoted to Hispanic children’s books. The event, which takes place at the end of April, celebrated its 15th anniversary this year.
• The prolific Gary Soto has at least a dozen children’s and young adult books listed on his website.
• Pam Munoz Ryan have written books for younger students, including Esperanza Rising.
• For tweenagers, Veronica Chambers has written the Marisol and Magdelena books about two Panamanian best friends.
• Legendary Latina author Julia Alvarez has gotten into the children’s book business with her Tia Lola books, about a Dominican woman who takes care of her extended family, according to this AARP VIVA article.
• The Association for Library Service for Children rewards the Pura Belpré Award to a “Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”