Pura Belpré Award

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

Year: 2017

La Princesa and the Pea

Author: Susan Middleton Elya

This Spanish version of the princess and the pea is a little different than the version you may have heard before. In this version the prince is looking for wife, but it couldn’t just be any girl. The queen agreed that her son needed perfection. The girl that her son would marry had to pass a test. This test was that the girl would have to lay on many mattresses all piled on top of one another and feel the pea that has been placed underneath them all. The catch is that the girl would not know what the test was. A maid came in riding on a donkey and instantly caught the eye of the prince. The prince would make sure that the maid would pass the test to ensure that he could marry her. Once his mother set up the mattresses for the maid to sleep on, the prince placed pitchforks and stones underneath the mattresses without the queen knowing. This was the prince’s way of guaranteeing that the maid would not sleep well which would notify the queen that she was perfect for her son. The queen says that only a girl that is worthy will feel the pea. Sure enough the maid does not sleep well and is then given to the prince to marry. The prince and the maid live a happy life together and have a child for each mattress that the maid had slept on.


Year: 2017

All Around Us

Author: Xelena González

A young girl learns many things from her grandfather as they spend time together. He tells her that circles are everywhere while pointing out circles such as the outline of the sun, and also explains about cycles in life. The two garden together and eat the vegetables they’ve grown and then plant the seeds found in the vegetables as well as fertilizing the ground with the stems and leaves. Grandpa also explains family traditions to his granddaughter.

Year: 2016

The Princess and the Warrior

Author: Duncan Tonatiuh

The book is about Itza, a princess, who wishes to find a suitor that is not rich and powerful like her father wants. She falls in love with Popoca who is a brave warrior that fights for her father’s army. The only way that the two may be married is if Popoca defeats the emperor’s enemy Jaguar Claw, however Jaguar Claw has a plan to spite Popoca. Itza and her father are told by a messenger that Popoca has been killed. Itza is heartbroken and takes a drink of something that puts her to sleep. When Popoca and the rest of the men arrive to tell Itza and her father of the good news, Popoca finds Itza sleeping. He tries to wake her, but is not able too. In the end, the story is about how the two mountains that overlook Mexico City, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl got their names and the folk tales behind them.

Year: 2016

Drum Dream Girl

Author: Margarita Engle

This story is based on the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a drummer in Cuba's first all-female dance band. Early in her life, the elders in her community tell her that only boys can play the drums. This girl doesn't give up on her dreams, though, and continues to find a beat all around her. Finally, her dad agrees to hire a teacher who will tell her whether she's good enough to play for the community. 

Year: 2015

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Author: Meg Medina

Mia’s grandmother comes to visit and soon realizes she cannot properly communicate with her granddaughter. Mia finds creative ways to assist her grandma in learning English. Throughout the book Mia helps Abuela in many different forms. At the end, Mia and Abuela are able to communicate with one another speaking in Spanish and English.


Year: 2015

Viva Frieda

Author: Yuyi Morales

This book is not only a Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, but also a Caldecott Honor Book for 2015. In this story, Frida Kahlo was often sick as a child growing up in Mexico. Having had polio as a child, one leg was significantly shorter than the other. Frida hid her legs under frilly skirts until she was 18; at that time she was involved in a bus crash that left her in a full-body cast. While in the hospital recovering, she discovered her love for art. Frida's recovery led her into the life of a thriving artist. 

Year: 2014

Separate is Never Equal

Author: Duncan Tonatiuh

The book covers the story of Sylvia Mendez, a young Mexican American girl growing up in the 1940’s. The Mendez family tries to send their children to the local public school, but they are denied because the color of their skin. This segregated them from other young students, including the children’s cousins. Throughout the book, the families that have children at the “Mexican School” file lawsuits to repeal the internalized rules of segregation in public schools. After a few years the Mendez family gets the ruling, to their surprise the ruling was in their favor. This lead to all children being able to attend any school no matter their race or background.


Year: 2014

Niño Wrestles the World

Author: Yuyi Morales

Niño (which means kid) is a very brave luchadore (wrestler) who fights and defeats all of his opponents through the use of signature moves and cunning. This story includes some words in Spanish and is a child-appropriate introduction into the world of luche libre (free fighting).

Year: 2013

Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert

Author: Gary D. Schmidt

Martín was the son of a nobleman and a slave woman. His mother asked the local priests to take him in and teach him. Martín’s humble birth caused him to be mistreated by the priests, though that did not stop Martín from showing compassion toward others. He possessed the gift of healing which he used first in the poorest sections of town, the barrio. Martín grew to be a beloved saint.

Year: 2012

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours

Author: Duncan Tonatiuh

This book relates the story of world-renown artist, Diego Rivera, as a young boy in a way that encourages children to dream about their own futures. Rivera is shown as a mischievous boy who loves to create artwork. The author prompts readers to think about the kinds of things Rivera would paint today.