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Ten Must-Read Chicano/Latino Books


Compiled by Jesse Tijerina, Chicano Literature Specialist

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1.   Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless Me, Ultima. Recently reprinted in an edition including educational ideas on how to teach the book. His two following books; Heart of Aztlan, and Tortuga which complete the Anaya trilogy should also be read. Chicano Lit. (High School)

2.   Cisneros, Sandra. The House On Mango Street. A coming of age classic of a young Chicana growing up in a Chicago barrio. Because of its style, being written in short, vignette-like chapters, all ages will enjoy certain chapters of the book. The chapter titled Hairs has also been published in a picture book with bilingual text titled, Hairs/Pelitos. All Cisneros is worth reading. Chicano Lit.

3.   Soto, Gary. Chato’s Kitchen. A lovely picture book written in English with occasional short Spanish phrases. Complimented with illustrations by Susan Guevara. There is also a Spanish edition with occa- sional short English phrases; just as wonderful. All Soto picture books are a must. Chicano Lit. (1st–3rd grade)

4.   Urrea, Luis Alberto. Across The Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border. A remarkable piece of non-fiction allowing us to hear some of the stories of those who suffer and endure with great faith; life on the border. One of Chicano Literature’s most prolific writers. A must. Chicano Lit. (High School)

5.   Rivera, Tomas …. y no se lo trago la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Part. Two different translations;

Hermini Rios-C is the preferred translation. A collection of vignettes about a young boy growing up within the Migrant stream. Chicano Lit. (7th–High School)

6.   Jimenez, Francisco. The Circuit. A short and precise collection of short fiction revolving around the life of a migrant child. Like the Cisneros book, this book may apply to various ages. The story titled, La Mariposa, has been published as a picture book by Houghton Mifflin. Houghton Mifflin has just recent- ly published Breaking Through, the sequel to Jimenez’ first collection. Chicano Lit.

7.  Soto, Gary. Baseball in April. A classic short story collection that has crossed over from Chicano Lit. into the huge array of juvenile short story collections. Influenced by his experiences of growing up poor and Mexican-American. By far one of the most active Chicano writers; an abundance of work spreading from picture books to juvenile non-fiction. All of which are worth reading. Chicano Lit. (Middle School)

8.   Lopez, Tiffany Ana. Growing Up Chicana/o. An anthology of 20 Chicana/o writers writing about their childhoods. Included are the cornerstone writers of the Chicano literary canon: Anaya, Soto, Cis- neros, and many more. Chicano Lit. (Upper Middle–High School)

9.   Mohr, Nicholasa. Nilda. This, her first book, received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the New York Times outstanding book of the year. Experiences of a first generation Puerto Rican-Amer- ican girl growing up in Spanish Harlem. Her follow-up book, El Bronx Remembered was a finalist for the National Book Award 1976. Puerto Rican Lit. (Accelerated Middle–High School)

10.    Diaz, Junot. Drown. A superb collection of short fiction; ten stories spanning from life in the bar- rios of the Dominican Republic to the struggling neighborhoods of New Jersey. A bit heavy with the language. A personal favorite. Dominican/Latino Lit. (High School)

11.     Perez, Celia C.  Tumble. When Adela’s loving stepfather asks to adopt her, she’s concerned about her birth father. She’s never met him, doesn’t know who his is, but is it fair to ask him to give up his parental rights? She asks questions, searches, and finally locates her father’s family. They are luchadores, wrestlers in the lucha libre tradition. As Addie gets to know them, she learns a good deal about herself and her newly found family. A page turner, Perez keeps things lively. Even if you’re into wrestling, you’ll become a fan of her storytelling. Recommendation courtesy of Vicki Palmquist of   (Middle School)

List courtesy of Read Me a Story, InkTM. For more recommended reading lists visit