Latinx Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a Focus on Immigration


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are my own.

Hispanic Heritage Month started September 15th and ends on Friday. I have four Latinx books to share with you this week in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Each book has its own focus and don't necessarily relate to one another besides having Latinx main characters, so I am going to share two of them today and two later in the week. The two today focus a bit on immigration. One is a more modern picture book and the other is a middle grades novel about a middle schooler immigrating from Cuba in the 1960s. We will start with the picture book. It is I Wish You Knew by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Magdalena Mora. It is recommended for ages 4 to 7.

From the Publisher:

When Estrella’s father has to leave because

he wasn’t born here, like her,

She misses him.

And she wishes people knew the way it affects her.

At home. At school.


But a school wrapped around a hundred-year-old oak tree is the perfect place to share and listen.

Some kids miss family,
Some kids are hungry,
Some kids live in shelters.

But nobody is alone.

A story about deportation, divided families, and the importance of community in the midst of uncertainty.

From Me:

With everything happening at our borders the past few years as well as the discussion of the dreamers and other news about illegal immigrants and more, this book comes at a perfect time. It is a story that talks about the fears and worries of kids. It starts with Estrella whose father has just been deported. She shares her worries and things she wishes those around her knew about her and her life at the moment. It goes on to other kids--ones who are hungry or live in a shelter or have a parent away in the military. It also shares the teacher's view wishing the kids knew she sees them and wants to help them. 

The teacher sets up a sharing circle where the kids can write down what they wish others knew and share if they want to or when they are ready to. It is such a wonderful idea that I wish was in every classroom--especially our lower grades. We all have things we wish others knew but do not always have a way to tell them. This book shares such important messages for each of us to remember all of us are going through something and we may not know what others are dealing with. 

Our second book is a middle grade historical novel. It is Cuba in My Pocket by Adrienne Cuevas. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12 and based off the true story of Adrienne's father.

From the Publisher:

By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history.

“I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.”

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

From Me:

This story is emotional. Cumba and his younger brother witness an execution before Cumba leaves Cuba. The story shares Cumba's life as Fidel Castro has taken over Cuba. His family have him leave Cuba to avoid having to fight in Fidel's army. He leaves all he knows to come to Florida. He only speaks a little English and wishes he had paid more attention in his English class while he had it back in Cuba. He stays with his grandfather's cousin but he had never met her before he arrived in Miami. Life is tough, but he is away from the reaches of Fidel. He loses his hope but slowly finds his way and his people. 

I love the story has historical context. In the author's note Adrienne shares she based the novel on stories she heard from her own father's experience. The characters are well developed. The reader feels Cumba's fears and frustrations. The descriptions of his own emotions are wonderful. It is a very well written book and shares a bit of history that may not be known by many. I also love the connection to Cumba's life with some of the current immigration stories. He deals with people who do not want the Cubans to be allowed in the United States and he meets others who are helpful and kind. 

I hope you will check out both of these books. Be sure to check out our review of The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez as well as My Brigadista Year (which shares another point of view from this time in Cuba), our post on Celia Cruz, our post exploring Cuba, our other posts featuring Cuba, and our past Hispanic Heritage Month posts