Skip to Main Content

Children's and Young Adult Literature

Students Review Día de los Muertos Children's Books in ENGL727 Chicanx Children's Literature Taught by Professor Phil Serrato

by Linda Salem on 2019-10-24T16:38:00-07:00 | 0 Comments

 In Pablo Remembers: The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead, author George Acona uses colorful photographs and illustrations to explain each day of the holiday—All Hallows’ Eve onOctober 31st, All Saints’ Day on November 1st, and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd…. Pablo and his family … welcome his deceased abuelita home by decorating the family’s ofrenda with marigolds, bread of the dead, and sugar skulls. -- Rachel 

In Day of the Dead author Linda Lowery reminds readers that “life is a gift” worth celebrating and that this holiday of Aztec and Spanish celebrations of deceased friends and family…[is] a lively and community-oriented holiday intended to commemorate spirits of loved ones and to bring families together through parades, cooking, and story-telling. It serves as a reminder that death is natural and often leaves behind imprints of love in the lives of others.

-- Nayeli 



 In Día de los Muertos author Roseanne Thong and illustrator Carlos Ballesteros’ depict the holiday as a celebration of the departed, an acknowledgement of death’s normalcy. Styles of cubism, couplet form, graveyard poetry, collage, and a bilingual lexicon are used to portray the process of readying one’s home and community to welcome communication and festivities with the dead. Thong enshrines the young as co-equal record-keepers of ancestral narratives and highlights the roles children play in bridging the past to the present, making sure that even the “small angelitos” are memorialized through artwork.-- Alex 

 In The Spirit of Tío Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story by Janice Levy, Nando and his mother celebrate the Day of the Dead honoring late Uncle Fernando by telling fun stories of his life. Nando strolls through the vibrant market, purchases traditional sugar skulls and pan de muerto (bread of the dead). Musicians and performers in skull masks crowd the streets as Nando and his mother process to Uncle Fernando’s grave. A beautiful portrayal of Mexican customs.

-- Sofia

In Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter, a brother and a sister

 help their family prepare for Día de los Muertos. They watch and help their family prepare traditional foods, gather decorations, and celebrate the lives of family members who have passed. The majority of the book is written in English, but the inclusion of particular words and phrases in Spanish is easy to decipher, making it perfect for second language acquisition or reinforcement. With a warm tone and colorful illustrations, the authors express to readers the joy of this holiday. --Benjamin 


Catrina’s Day of the Dead by Adriana Morales Marin stars Catrina and her cat, Misifus, both deceased, as they journey to their altar in a decorated cemetery. The author elaborates on the purpose and significance of items offered at the altar, includes fun activities like making skull candy and papel picado, and explains how the Day of the Dead became a celebration in Mexico. A great book to read for all ages. -- Rafael

With affirmations that “The Day of the Dead is nothing like Halloween,” The Dead Family Díaz, by P.J. Bracegirdle with illustrations by Poly Bernatene, is a trans-cultural exploration of the Mexican holiday el Día de los Muertos. The author demonstrates how knowledge and understanding of cultures different from one’s own can disrupt the fear and othering perpetuated by stereotypes and prejudiced beliefs, and the book offers positive representation to underserved communities in children’s literature. The cartoonish skull face of the main character, Angelito, juxtaposes the more realistic skulls and skeletons found in paintings and posters peppering different walls and alleyways around the town, diminishing the fear with which a young reader may approach such images. -- Jared

In Luis San Vicente’s The Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras the author offers a uniquely fanciful conceptualization the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos. Death is not vilified, but rather respected and admired. Whimsical illustrations are textured with rich fun, featuring calacas young and old dancing across the page to take part in celebrations focusing on the value of their lives rather than their losses. The effect is the elimination of the fear behind death and readers to accept this jovial point of view as natural and uplifting. The author establishes Día de los Muertos as a democratic observance involving all walks of life.

-- Vanessa

In Rosita y Conchita: A Rhyming Storybook in English and Spanish, co-authors and

illustrators Eric Gonzalez and Erich Haeger tell the story of two sisters in parallel worlds—the living and the dead—and challenges the notion that interpersonal connection is severed upon one’s passing. Just as Rosita is drawn and guided by the scent of chocolate chip enchiladas, the sound of her sister’s song, and the path of cempasúchil to the altar, readers are drawn in to the book by adorable twin sisters, colorful, cartoon-esque illustrations, and melodious rhymes. The bilingual, side-by-side rhymes establish English and Spanish as equally important, also establishing the importance of a bilingual readership. -- Melissa

The bilingual picture book The Remembering Day / El Día de los Muertos by author Pat Mora and illustrator Robert Castilla is the story of a young girl named Bella and her grandmother Mamá Alma in a pre-Columbian village. When Mamá Alma dies she tells Bella, “I will always be with you.” Bella begins the annual tradition of the Remembering Day and she celebrates with feasting, singing and crafting a marigold path for her grandmother to follow.

-- Ashley


 Add a Comment


  Recent Posts

New Exhibit! El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros - Children's Day/Book Day
Q & A: What's the Key to Finding Kids' Books in Public Libraries, School Libraries, and on the 4th Floor of the SDSU Library?
Act Locally, Read Globally! WorldKidLit and the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative.
¡Celebremos!: Pura Belpré Award at 25
Anti-racism, Educators, and Children's Literature
Kadir Nelson's Undefeated Awarded the Caldecott Medal. More Youth Media Awardees Here.
"Find just five things to improve" and other advice to young writers. In memory of beloved children's author Andrew Clements.
Students Review Día de los Muertos Children's Books in ENGL727 Chicanx Children's Literature Taught by Professor Phil Serrato
Coretta Scott King Book Award turns 50!
The Lost Love Letters
From Newspaper Article to Picture Book. Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine, Judith Pinkerton Josephson. Hernan Sosa, illus. Lee & Low Books.
The Clara Breed Historical Children's Collection at San Diego State University. A bibliography of books in the collection.
The Juvenile Collection Move --Same Place, Better Organization!
Pointing to the moon. Catching up with picture book author and SDSU alum Cindy Jenson-Elliott.
Classic Children's Books in the Mary Louise Olsen Collection
Gene Luen Yang Recommends Writers and Artists in Comics, Animation, and Graphic Novels in CLAQ Special Issue
The Edward Gorey Personal Library - Explore it today
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Oliver Wilson's Survey (1937)
CFP Children's Literature Society panels at the American Literature Association May 24-27, 2018
Don and Lydia Freeman Added Illustrations in Beady Bear, Pet of the Met, and Chuggy the Blue Caboose.
New Exhibit - The Author A.B.C.s from the Collection of Peter and Helen Neumeyer, July 2017
The SDSU Children’s Book Collections in the SDSU Library
Ukiyo-e, the Floating World Picture, and Children
Fairytale Illustrations - Relief and Illumination
Chris Riddell and letterpress texture in The Sleeper and the Spindle (2015).
Celebrate el dia!
Takeo Takei and Miss Clara Breed
Making Color from Insects in Illustrated Scientific Materials
Books on Color for Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Novelists, Conservationists, Chemists, and Historians. An Annotated Bibliography by Linda Salem and Margaret Drehobl


Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.




  Follow Us

  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.