This post lists 5 Biographies written with young readers as the target audience. The main characters in these non-fiction books were born in three different countries in Latin America. The images of book covers are linked to outside sources with further information. All the book descriptions give you an idea of age recommendations and the texts’ Lexile measures.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
- Lexile Measure: 1100L
- Grade interest: 4-7
- Setting: Puerto Rico and the U.S.A.
- Cultural Group: Afro-Puerto Rican
- Schomburg was a genius. Instigated by a fifth-grade teacher who said that Afro-descendants has no history, Arturo Schomberg was determined to prove otherwise. He spent hours immersed in books studying all that he could. He immigrated to America when he was seventeen. He then devoted his life to extensively collecting books, art, and documents that prove the important role of Negros in World’s History. Besides presenting Schomberg’s biography, this book is filled with the stories of Black people who made history.
Diego, by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
- Lexile measure: 420L
- Grade interest: K-2
- Setting: Mexico
- Cultural group: Mexican artist
- This is a bilingual book (Spanish/English) about Diego Rivera. Diego was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and through his art he has represented several elements of Mexican culture, but his reputation transcended his country and he is known all over the world. This book could be used to integrate literacy, social studies, and arts in an instructional unit.
Biblioburro: a true story from Colombia
, by Jeanette Winter
- Lexile measure: 640L
- Grade interest: K-2
- Setting: Colombia
- Cultural group: Colombian
- The book tells the story of Luis Soriano, a Colombian man who had too many books that would not fit in his house. Luis decided, then, to share his books with children across the hills and valleys of his country. He traveled and carried his books on two burros, Alfa and Beto (which together sound like the word “alphabet” in Spanish). Those were the Biblioburros (Biblio means library, hence the burros library). Through his many books, Luis made a change in the lives of children and adults in remote villages of Colombia.
Growing Up Pedro
, by Matt Tavares
- Lexile Measure: 730L
- Grade interest: K-5
- Setting: the Dominican Republic, the 1980s; USA, 1990s and early 2000s.
- Cultural group: Dominican
- This book tells the story of baseball players Pedro and Ramón Martinez. The two brothers were born in the Dominican Republic and came to America due to their contracts with baseball teams. Pedro became one of the best Red Sox players of all times. This literature can be a good resource for Physical Education literacy as it introduces vocabulary specific to baseball. The text is available in English and in Spanish editions.
A Library for Juana: The World of Sor Juana Inés
, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
- Lexile Measure: 600L
- Grade interest: K-3
- Setting: Mexico, 17th century
- Cultural group: Mexican
- The book tells the story of young Juana Inés de Asbaje, today known in the literature as Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz. Juana Inés was a prodigy child who was self-taught in various areas due to her access to her grandfather’s library and, later on, due to the support from the Viceroy and Vireina of colonial Mexico. As a little child, she tried to convince her mother that she should dress as a boy to be allowed to go to school. Sor Juana became the first Latin American poet, defender of women’s educational rights, intellectual, playwright, and environmentalist. This book has received the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award and is also available in Spanish and in English editions.