Mexico Picture Books: 27 Best Children’s Books about Mexico

Best Children’s Books about Mexico – Picture Books about Mexico and more!

Would you or your children like to read books about Mexico? Visit the beautiful country through picture books! These wonderful books about Mexico would be a perfect complement to a Geography or Social Studies lesson about Mexico.

Mexico is a beautiful country with vast land size – it borders the Pacific Ocean to the west, the United States to the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the east, and Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea to the south. (That’s a lot of land!)

Mexico has been home to large civilizations since the Mayans and Aztecs. While Spanish it the language that Mexico is most known for, it also has many indigineous languages. The most famous indigenous language of Mexico is Nahuatl, from which we get many great and delicious meso-American words like chocolate, avocado, tomato, vanilla, and maize. Nahuatl is spoken by 1.7 million people in Mexico and abroad.

Here are some of the best books about Mexico to get a sense of Mexican history, Mexican culture, Mexican food, and overall to show Mexico to kids. Find a great picture book about Mexico today!

 

Disclaimer: This page of children’s books about Mexico contains affiliate links which generate income at no cost to you. The links are provided for your convenience of finding these books, but you may get them at the nearest local bookstore or online used book re-seller nearest you. The local library is also a fantastic place to get thousands of books, free!

 

Children’s Books about Mexico: Overviews of the Country

Off We Go To Mexico, by Laurie Krebs

This book is an amazing introduction to Mexico. It also has a bilingual Spanish/English version available. This book travels through all of Mexico and is perfect for showing Mexico’s geography.

Ready to Read Living in Mexico, by Chloe Perkins

Living in Mexico is a great book about Mexico for ages 5 – 8 that covers the country’s “beautiful art, incredible ancient ruins, and gorgeous beaches, rainforests, and deserts.”

If You Were Me And Lived In Mexico: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World, by Carole P. Roman.

This book shows major places in Mexico, and teaches 16 Spanish words throughout. It discusses Mexico’s languages, the money (pesos), sports, food, and family.

This book shows the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, children in a local street market, the Mexican peso, a family, a Mayan pyramid like Chichen Itza, a tamale cart, Mexico’s enthusiasm for soccer, and Mexican holidays.

Next Stop Mexico, by Ginger McDonnell

This short children’s book about Mexico focuses on Mexico’s animals, its coasts, and its desert climate. It is 24 pages long and written for a mid-elementary school student, written by TIME for Kids.

P is for Pinata: A Mexico Alphabet, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by John Parra

This alphabet book about Mexico takes readers through 26 cultural traditions that are unique to Mexico, showing off its vibrant history and traditions. This book is high quality and goes very in-depth into Mexican cultural facts – from chihuahuas to Frida Kahlo, from pinatas to Mexican emperors, from el Ballet Folklórico de Mèxico to the Mexican cowboys (los vaqueros).  Perfect for Spanish teachers or a Spanish class.

 

Books about Mexican Art: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Find out more in-depth reviews on books about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo listed here at the page: Biography Books about Frida Kahlo

The Story of Frida Kahlo: A Biography Book for New Readers, by Susan P. Katz

Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself, by Margaret Frith

Frida Kahlo, by Mike Venezia

Frida Kahlo: The Artist in the Blue House, by Magdalena Holzhey

Who Was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny

I am Frida Kahlo (Ordinary People Change the World), by Brad Metzger

Read biographies about Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s most famous painter.

 

 

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, by Duncan Tonatiuh

This book discusses famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera, using illustrations by Duncan Tonatiuh. Duncan Tonatiuh is himself known for his Mixtec art style, a form of art that was popular in Mexico before the arrival of Columbus.

Diego Rivera was married to Frida Kahlo, who herself was a famous Mexican painter.

 

Christmas in Mexico: Mexican Christmas Traditions in Picture Books

Read more in-depth reviews about Mexico’s books about Christmas here.

The Night of the Posadas, by Tomie de Paola

The Posadas is a religious celebration in Mexican villages re-enacting the inn situation from the New Testament. Each day, the villagers walk to another inn to knock at (inn = posada), and get turned away. It is similar to caroling, where different places around the village are designated as the posadas for the event.

Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto

This Mexican children’s book tells the story of a girl preparing Christmas Eve tamales with her family. She tries on her mom’s ring, loses it, and she and her cousins eat all the tamales to find the lost ring. Turns out the ring wasn’t in the tamales, and telling the truth is the best policy. Discusses the tradition of making tamales for Nochebuena.

N is for Navidad, by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Pinata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas, by Pat Mora

‘Twas Nochebuena, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Go get this great book now! Spanish teachers will love how the book teaches a total of 47 words related to the authentic Mexican holiday traditions surrounding the Christmas season. It has excellent illustrations of family inside the house, and community activities singing carols in the village.

The book ends with well wishes of “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”, reminescent of the Night Before Christmas poem from which it is based.

 

Books about Mexican Culture: Mexico Picture Books about Family

Playing Loteria – El juego de la Loteria, by Rene Colato Lainez

This is one of my favorite books about Mexico. This charming story takes place as a child visits his abuelita in Mexico. He doesn’t speak Spanish, and she doesn’t speak English, but they love each other as grandmother and grandson. She takes him to the local fair, where much happens.

One of the games the grandma and child play together is the famous game from Mexico, the Loteria, which is a classic game to pass the time.

This book has the traditional “add Spanish words into the English story,” but it is done to such a high-quality level. The boy will say something, and grandma will repeat it back in Spanish. Or grandma will explain something, and the boy will repeat it back in English. Furthermore, this book is printed in both English and Spanish – you can read it all if you only know English, and someone else can read it all if they only know Spanish – and it adds to this dual language element to the story.

In addition, you learn about the game Loteria, which is the Mexican version of “Bingo!” but with specific cards that each tell a story.

Play the Mexican game of Loteria here, with Google. (Click the image at the top of the page to access the game itself.)

 

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, by Duncan Tonatiuh

This book is a cute story of two cousins writing back and forth. One lives in the United States, one cousin lives in Mexico. As they write back and forth to each other, they learn their favorite foods (pizza and quesadillas), their favorite sports (basketball and futbol – soccer), and have different ways of getting to school.  This book shows how life is different in different environments, but there is universality in how kids grow up and play.

One thing to notice in the book Dear Primo is the art style of Duncan Tonatiuh. He draws cartoonish figures, with displaced eyes and curled ears. This is a deliberate style choice, as Duncan Tonatiuh is drawing in the style of pre-Columbian art. The illustrations are influenced by how people were represented in the era of Mexico, pre-1400s.

There is also a spanish version, Querido Primo, for people who want to read the story in strictly Spanish, with English words sprinkled in. Dear Primo is written in English, with several Spanish words sprinkled in.

 

Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

This book is about a superhero kid, like you would find in your own living room, who loves Lucha Libre wrestling, and make-believe in general. Niño wants to be the world’s best wrestler, so he ‘fights’ foes who are familiar in Mexican tradition: the mummy of Guanajuato, La Llorona, an alien, Olmec Head, and El Chamuco. Finally, he battles it out with La Hermanitas, or his sisters.

Great for a silly, potty-training kid who likes to make believe. There is plenty of Spanish words sprinkled in, along with a guide to parents who don’t speak Spanish. It also includes a lot of the “Whoosh! Boom! Zwap!” type sound effects that remind you of an old Batman cartoon.

Some of the characters were really familiar to me (La Llorana, the crying ghost) and some were newer. A test for if you’d like this book is if you are okay with Halloween costumes – this book is about putting on different identities and playing pretend, and if that’s uncomfortable than skip it. I thought I would not like this book, but found it incredibly charming even as it pulled me out of its comfort zone. The illustrations by Yuyi Morales are delightful.

 

Books about Mexican Culture: Picture Books about Mexico and Food

Chicks in Salsa, by Aaron Reynolds

If you’re in need of a funny book, this is one that will have you saying, “Ole!” The rooster in the story is trying to make a delicious salsa. He goes through the farm, taking the spices he needs to make his famous chips and salsa. When the food prep is done, he’s ready for a fiesta!

It’s a great book for call-and-response style reading, like Reader’s Theater, and fits perfectly with a bowl of chips and salsa.

 

Three Little Tamales, by Eric A. Kimmel

This book of the Three Little Tamales is a rendition of the three little pigs, but with food. The tamales receive a warning that Senor Lobo is coming to eat them. They hide in their houses, made of corn stalks (which is what a tamale is cooked in), and Senor Lobo comes to blow their house down.

In the end, the three happy tamales move into a house made of cactus, where they are safe and sound in the desert of Mexico.

 

What Can You Do With a Paleta, by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales

This book is a story about the ice-cream truck (or ice cream cart) that brings frozen popcicles to children throughout Mexico. It discusses the flavors of the paletas, including strawberry and coconut, and covers the fun of eating frozen ice on a hot summer’s day. The book also covers creativity (“What can you do with a paleta?”), spending time with family, and gives a tour of the neighborhood. The book won the Tomas Rivera Award in 2010, as a wonderful children’s book about Mexico.

 

 

Books about Mexican Culture: the Arts and Celebration

Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, by Duncan Tonatiuh

Amalia Hernández was the founder of the most famous dance company in Mexico. She was supposed to become a teacher, but the cultural dances in the local square were too enticing to her. She ultimately became a dancer teacher, choreographer, and director of the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico. In her role, she brought a mix of traditional Mexican dance styles with the world of ballet.

The illustrations in this book are done by Duncan Tonatiuh, renowned for his style that draws on pre-Columbian art. Therefore, he represents the people with curled ears, with eyes that are wideset, and other features that would have been seen in old folkloric art in the era before colonization by Europe. The illustrations add a layer of reclaiming Mexican cultural traditions.

Domatila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition, by Jewell Reinhart

This story is an adaptation of the traditional Cinderella tale to Mexican culture. The houses are adobe style, there’s cooked cactus on the front cover, and this girl “Domatila” is sent to work as a cook for the Governor of her state. The book captures Mexican folkloric culture while serving up a delicious dose of fairy tale tradition.

 

F is for Fiesta, by Susan Middleton Elya

This is a birthday story that also serves as a Mexican picture book about the alphabet, in addition to showing birthday culture surrounding a child’s cumpleaños. Perfect for dual-language preschools, or for preschoolers ready to celebrate their cumpleaños. The book tells a complete story as it goes through the Spanish alphabet, complete with entries for ch, ll, ñ, and rr to show off the sounds of Spanish.

 

The Pinata Maker, El Piñatero, by George Ancona

This picture book about Mexico photographs the real life of Don Ricardo, or “Tio Rico”, in a small village called Tonalá Jalisco.

Don Ricardo is 77 years old in the book and has been making handicrafts his whole life: puppets, sombreros, and most recently piñatas. The book teaches how to make piñatas out of paper mache, and encourages children to do the same.

This is a bilingual book, which can be read in both English and Spanish. A real treat of a small-town artistic village life that is in danger of extinction, from modernization.

 

 

 

Which children’s book about Mexico here is your favorite?

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