Books for Teaching About Mexico
Recommended resources, nonfiction books, and picture books for teaching young children about the arts, culture, crafts, history, and geography of Mexico.
From Unit Plan: Magnificent Mexico
The booklist is divided into two groups: nonfiction and picture books. In addition, I've included the dance and music resources recommended for the unit.
Look What Came From Mexico by Miles Harvey
This book explores the foods, words, toys, music, and art that Mexico has contributed to the world.
Classroom Tip: I use this book, which inspired the unit's culmination activity, as an introduction to Magnificent Mexico.
Colors of Mexico by Lynn Ainsworth Olawsky
A beautifully illustrated book that teaches about Mexican traditions, geography, foods, and history.
Classroom Tip: I use this book as part of the formative assessment on Day 2 in Lesson 1. We discuss the different colors that we see on each page and then the students each tell me one fact that they learned about Mexico
Made In Mexico by Peter Laufer and Susan L. Roth
A darling, illustrated book with bright and bold pictures describing the daily life in Mexico
Classroom Tip: I read the story to the students as literature enrichment, and then place the book on display in our classroom hands-on museum.
Mexico from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman and Jane Lewis
An abecedarium full of interesting facts about Mexico.
Classroom Tip: I integrate this book into learning about letters. As we learn the letters of the alphabet, I read the appropriate letter page. EXTRA: I also think that this book would make a good foundation for a culmination activity. Each student is assigned a letter of the alphabet and the task of creating a project that goes along with that letter. Parents and friends can come and see the exhibit!
Fiesta by June Behrens
Authentic photographs show the exciting celebrations and traditions of Mexico.
Classroom Tip: I use this book to show the students real pictures of how the Mexican people celebrate different holidays and traditions. I then place the book in our Mexican hands-on museum.
Getting to Know The World's' Greatest Artists, Frida Kahlo by Mike Venezia
Factual information about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo
Classroom Tip: I read selected text from this book to give students factual information about the artist, Frida Kahlo, whose life we studied during our self-portrait lesson.
Getting to Know The World's' Greatest Artists, Diego Rivera by Mike Venezia
Factual information about the life of Mexican artist Diego Rivera
Skeletons by Lily Wood
Easy-to-understand information about our bones.
Dem Bones by Bob Barner
Humorous pictures depict how bones are connected.
Scholastic Time-to-Discover Reader: Your Bones by Melvin and Gilda Berger
This slim paperback especially for K-2 readers is part of a six-book series about the human body and how it works.
Classroom Tip: I use these books on Day 2 in Lesson 3, "Dancing Skeletons, Celebrating Day of the Dead" as a way to introduce how our bones are connected.
Rattle Your Bones by David Clemesha
This book gives step by step instruction on how to draw skeletons doing daily activities.
Classroom Tip: I copy pages of this book and place them in a center with black paper and white chalk. The students use the directed drawing to make their own skeletons.
A World of Recipes: Mexico by Julie McCulloch
Factual information about different foods from Mexico with delicious and easy recipes
Classroom Tip: I use this book when the students and I make tortillas and guacamole.
Smart About Art, Frida Kahlo The Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith
Here's a creatively written story about the life of Frida Kahlo from a student's point of view.
Classroom Tip: I use this book on Day 1 Lesson 2, What is Important To You? I list the students responses about what was important to Frida on a T chart
Frida by Jonah Winter
The must have books of all must have books.This is an exceptionally beautifully illustrated and written book about how Frida turns all the challenges in her life into art.
Classroom Tip: I use this book in Day 2 of Lesson 2, What Is Important To You? I add the students responses to the T chart of what they think was important to Frida
Diego by Jeanette Winter
A beautifully illustrated story about the life of Diego Rivera
Classroom Tip: I use this book as a way to introduce Diego Rivera's art work to the students. The students' responses are listed on the word web.
The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb retold by Shirley Climo
A darling, illustrated book about a feisty little red ant who is trying to get a big crumb home.
The Goat in the Chili Patch by Lada Josefa Kratky
This Mexican folklore is about a boy who is trying to save his chili patch from being eaten by a very hungry goat.
Classroom Tip: I use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the two stories, The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb and The Goat in the Chili Patch.
Nino's Mask by Jeanette Winter
This is a beautifully illustrated coming-of-age story about a boy who dreams of wearing a mask in his village fiesta.
Classroom Tip: Use this story to introduce the art of mask making, or to introduce a role-play activity.
Mañana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul
A terrific literature enrichment story about four friends working together for a common goal.
Classroom Tip: I use this book for the sole purpose of giving the students an enjoyable story that is rich in plot and language.
Rin Rin Rin, Do, Re, Mi by Jose Luiz Orozco
This sweet book is about a child who wants to learn.
Classroom Tip: I read this story to the parents at back-to-school night because it tells them different things they can do to help their children succeed in school.
Day of The Dead by Tony Johnston
This beautifully illustrated story shows what a family does to get ready for Day of the Dead.
Classroom Tip: I use this story on Day 1, Lesson 3, Dancing Skeletons, Celebrating Day of the Dead. The students and I do a picture walk and discuss what is going on in the story.
The Spirit of Tió Fernando by Janice Levy
This is a deeply moving story about a young boy who learns to embrace the life of his uncle who has passed away.
Classroom Tip: I read this story on Day 3, Lesson 3, "Dancing Skeletons, Celebrating Day of the Dead." As a group, we discuss all the different things that need to be done in order to celebrate this holiday.
Cinco de Mayo by Janet Riehecky
This book is about how the Sanchez family prepare for Cinco de Mayo.
Hooray, A Piñata! by Elisa Kleven
A little girl gets so attached to her piñata that she doesn't want it broken at her birthday party.
Classroom Tip: I use this story to introduce what a piñata is. Then we make piñatas out of cereal boxes and colored tissue paper.
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
This heart-warming story is about a little girl who thinks that she has lost her mother's diamond ring in one of the tamales that they have made for Christmas dinner.
Classroom Tip: I read this story to the students before my guest chef comes in a the students about how to make tamales.
Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley
A beautifully illustrated story about a little girl who learns some meaningful life lessons from her mother.
Classroom Tip: I read this story to the students before I teach them how to make tortillas.
Music and Dance Resources
Nati Cano's Mariachi Los Camperos, Llegaron Los Camperos!
De Colores and other Latin American Folk Songs for Children by Jose-Luis Orozco
Folk Dance Fun, Simple Folk Songs and Dances by Georgiana Stewart (Kimbo's Educational)