Exploring the Caribbean American Experience With Books for Kids & Teens

By School Outreach
June 29, 2020
book covers

June is Caribbean American Heritage Month. It honors the impact and contributions of Caribbean Americans to American society and culture and is celebrated throughout the country with festivals and events. This year we'd like to encourage you to celebrate it through books so we've compiled reading lists for kids and teens (many available as e-books) that explore the Caribbean American experience and introduce young readers to notable Caribbean Americans.


Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Mike Curato

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior; illustrated by Laura James

Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings by Francie Latour; illustrated by Ken Daley

Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics! by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael López 

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers 

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat; illustrated by Alix Delinois

Every Little Thing by Bob Marley & Cedella Marley; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The Field by Baptiste Paul; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares

How Tia Lola Came to Stay Visit by Julia Alvarez

Islandborn (Lola) by Junot Diaz; illustrated by Leo Espinosa

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale by Marisa Montes; illustrated by Joe Cepeda

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice by Nadio Hohn; illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Look Back! by Trish Cooke; illustrated by Caroline Binch

Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish; illustrated by Oliver Dominguez

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy; illustrated by Michael Allen Austin

Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy

My Mommy Medicine by Edwidge Danticat; illustrated by Shannon Wright

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez 

One Love by Cedella Marley; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Paola Escobar

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Raúl Colón

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Edel Rodriguez

Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina; illustrated by Claudio Muñoz


Upper Elementary to Middle Grade

Ana María Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle by Hilda Eunice Burgos

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Forest World by Margarita Engle

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender 

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy


Young Adult

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Núñez

Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle

How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

This Train is Being Held by Ismee Williams

Water in May by Ismee Williams

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!