Mirrors, Windows and Walls: 8 Children’s Books for Seeing Ourselves, Others and Breaking Down the Walls that Separate Us
We have so much information. We have voices on the TV and hot takes on social media. We have photographs that pierce our hearts and haunt our dreams. We have oceans of ink spent on getting the details, the facts – and sometimes the lies – just right. As Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop said, we need mirrors and windows to understand people who are like us (or like our parents or grandparents) and people who are not like us. We need something greater than information. We need story.
In my debut YA novel, The Grief Keeper, Marisol Morales crosses borders, sacrifices her physical and mental well-being and endures racism, for the chance of safety for her sister, Gabi, and herself. I can easily understand why someone would risk so much, but I am a daughter of immigrants. The idea of having to flee your homeland, whether because of violence or because of a lack of opportunities does not seem farfetched to me at all. But I know that for some people, it can seem foolish, or downright selfish. My intention in writing The Grief Keeper was to engender understanding and deep empathy—of ourselves and of others who are not like us.
Here are 8 books for children that I think do the same.
For those looking to lay out on la playa or hammock this summer with a nice tall glass of limonada and an awesome pile of must-read Latinx debut and sophomore kidlit books, you need look no further than Las Musas. Scroll down for a list of all of our great middle grade and young adult titles out in time for summer and get your Las Musas reading on! Salud!
LAS MUSAS - MIDDLE GRADE
STORM RUNNER by J.C. Cervantes
Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles
A contemporary Maya mythology adventure from Rick Riordan Presents! Zane Obispo’s backyard volcano is the one place where he can escape other kids who make fun of his limp. But he soon learns that it is actually a centuries-old prison for the Maya god of death, whose destiny is directly tied to his. A destiny that thrusts Zane into an ancient prophecy that could mean the destruction of the world unless he can find a way to stop it.
ANA MARÍA REYES DOES NOT LIVE IN A CASTLE by Hilda Eunice Burgos
“A Latina Little Women with a modern Washington Heights Flair” -Julia Alvarez
Ana María hopes to attend New York City's best private academy, but her parents can’t afford that with four daughters and another baby on the way. So Ana María must nail her piano piece at the upcoming city showcase to win a scholarship. She practices through distractions and interruptions, including a family trip to the Dominican Republic, and, with help from family and friends, figures out what truly matters.
THE WIND CALLED MY NAME by Mary Louise Sanchez
Perfect for fans of Esperanza Rising and Little House on the Prairie.
The winds of the Great Depression blow Margarita Sandoval, a ten-year-old Hispanic girl, away from her ancestral New Mexico home to Wyoming, and she is determined to make a new friend there. But when her Papá risks losing his job, possibly because of her new friend, Caroline, Margarita invokes a Wyoming saint to intercede, and he more than answers her prayers.
BLIZZARD BESTIES by Yamile Saied Méndez
Perfect for fans of Sit, Stay, Love and Allie, First at Last.
Vanesa Campos can't wait for winter vacation and her week at Pinecloud Lodge promises to be perfect. Never mind that glamorous Beck writes off Vanesa right away; twins Emma and Eric are ready to join the fun out in the snow. But when the flakes start falling, and Vanesa's little brother, Hunter, might be stranded out in the blizzard, she will have to team up with all the kids - plus one giant dog - to rescue him.
A SPRINKLE OF SPIRITS by Anna Meriano
Perfect for fans of Meg Medina and Coco
Leonora Logroño is finally learning her family's bakery bruja magic, but trouble bubbles up again when her dead grandmother appears in her room! It turns out that spirits are popping back to life all over town, and Leo will need help to solve the mystery of what caused the chaos--and how to stop it! The Logroños return in a new story featuring a heaping helping of amor, azúcar, and magia.
THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar
Perfect for fans of Judy Blume and Sandra Cisneros
Celi's life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction. And her best friend's exploration of what it means to be genderfluid. But most of all, her mother's insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It's an ancestral Mexica ritual that their community have reclaimed but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within to take a stand for who she wants to be?
SILVER MEADOWS SUMMER by Emma Otheguy
Perfect for fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan and Elizabeth Enright
When Carolina’s family moves from Puerto Rico to upstate New York, Carolina is stuck attending summer camp at Silver Meadows Farm with her bossy cousin Gabriela. Luckily, Carolina makes a friend of her own, Jennifer. The two girls stumble upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods, which becomes their secret haven. When the kids discover the cottage might be destroyed, they come up with a plan to save it. Will it work?
LAS MUSAS - YOUNG ADULT
THE RESOLUTIONS by Mia García
Perfect for fans of Erika L. Sánchez and Emery Lord.
From hiking trips to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable, but with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been growing apart. So Jess makes a plan to reinstate their New Year’s Eve tradition with a twist: they assign resolutions to each other. Amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions they test the bonds that hold them together.
WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Zoraida Cordova
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained as wives for affluent families far removed from the political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, harboring a dark secret that might send her back to the fringes of society. But when she is asked to spy for a resistance group will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of an equal Medio—and a chance at forbidden love?
THE LAST 8 by Laura Pohl
Perfect for fans of The 5th Wave and Illuminae
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth. After surviving the apocalypse, Clover finds The Last Teenagers on Earth at the former Area 51. Instead of heroes, the group is more interested in hiding than fighting back -- and if Clover wants to save Earth, she must convince the others to fight with her.
THE TESLA LEGACY by K.K. Pérez
Perfect for fans of X-Men and Marie Lu
Young scientist Lucy Phelps is thrust into a centuries-old battle between rival alchemical societies when a fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. One side wants her help and the other wants her dead. Unfortunately, carriers of the genetic mutation―including Nikola Tesla―have a greatly reduced life expectancy. Even if Lucy can outrun her enemies, she can’t outrun herself.
DON'T DATE ROSA SANTOS by Nina Moreno
Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Gilmore Girls
The women in Rosa’s family are cursed: her abuela is exiled from Cuba, her mother is reckless, and Rosa is forbidden to go to the sea. Rosa dreams of finally seeing their island, but her study abroad plans crumble amid political changes just as she crashes into a quiet boy from the docks.
FIVE MIDNIGHTS by Ann Dávila Cardinal
Perfect for fans of Shadowshaper and Labyrinth Lost
Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución. If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping through Puerto Rico that lead them into the realm of myths and legends. Five Midnights is a “wickedly thrilling” (William Alexander) novel based on the el Cuco myth set against the backdrop of modern-day Puerto Rico.
THE GRIEF KEEPER by Alexandra Villasante
Perfect for fans of American Street and Mitali Perkins
When her brother is murdered, and her sister’s life is threatened, Marisol Morales flees El Salvador, and crosses the US border. After being detained by ICE, Marisol is given a stark choice: Be deported or participate in a clinical trial and become a grief keeper—taking the trauma and pain of others into her own body. It’s a risky experiment, but if it means keeping her sister safe, she will risk anything.
ALL OF US WITH WINGS by Michelle Ruiz Keil
Perfect for fans of Anna-Marie McLemore and Francesca Lia Block
Xochi is on her own in San Francisco where she meets tween genius Pallas and is hired as a live-in governess. When Xochi and Pallas’s riot-grrl ritual inadvertently summons a pair of ancient creatures bound to right the wrongs of Xochi’s childhood, Xochi must risk her place in her new family to save the mother that abandoned her and find a way to send the creatures home before the fog quenches their fierce magic.