puerto rico children's books

Discover these 6 Puerto Rico children’s books that explore the vibrant traditions of Bomba, Carnival, and Vejigante. These books are perfect for a Puerto Rico study unit or to learn about Puerto Rico’s cultural traditions.

Puerto Rico Children’s Books to Celebrate Bomba, Carnival, and Vejigante

Puerto Rico Children’s Books about the Carnival Celebration

   

Rafi and Rosi: Carnival! (Spanish edition) by Lulu Delacre. Is a beginner reader with three short chapters. Rafi and Rosi will take your child on a cultural and fun adventure in Puerto Rico.  Rafi is always playing pranks at his little sister and in this book he’s at it again.  In Reina por un día in order to get Rosi off his back, he tells her that she could be the carnival’s princess.  She gets ready to become the princess only to find out that being a princess is only for adults. Rafi makes it up to her with a sweet surprise.

In Vista de Rayos X he plays another prank on her saying that he can see who’s coming in the carnival’s parade from inside the house until Rosi catches him with a homemade periscope and peeping through the window.  What happens next? You’ll need to read the book.

In La máscara terrible Rafi dresses up as a vejigante to participate in the carnival and of course, startle his little sister Rosi. What else is he up to?

This was such a fun read and a great way to introduce the traditions of el carnaval in Puerto Rico. The Spanish version is part of our home library and one of the first books I bought for me son.  It is also available in English: Rafi and Rosi Carnival!   I love all of Delacre’s books especially the easy readers. 

Puerto Rico Children’s Books about the Vejigantes of Puerto Rico

Vejigante Masquerader   is a bilingual picture book also written by Lulu Delacre. This is a sweet story of how Ramón has been secretly getting ready for the Carnival sewing the costume himself. And with Don Miguel’s help he’d have his very own vejigante mask. Finally, it was Carnival time and he went off to participate.  Only to find himself embolden to tease a goat that ended up destroying his costume.  Saddened he returns home and his mom finds out that he was a masquerader and that he couldn’t continue to celebrate.

Moms being moms, she helps him mend his costume so he can continue to celebrate all month long.  What I love about this book is that in the backmatter, it has information of  other places that have similar traditions of masqueraders, instructions on how to make your own vejigante mask and chants used during the Carnival.  I bought this book for my son years ago, to teach him about this beautiful cultural tradition from his heritage and it is still part of our home library.

Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi Y El Magico Mural Musical is a bilingual children’s book written by Raquel M. Ortiz and illustrated by María Dominguez.  Set in the diaspora, it tells the magical story of Sofi and a magical mural.  Sofi is asked to go to the bodega in her Bronx neighborhood to buy half of gallon of milk, and on her way to the bodega she sees this beautiful Puerto Rican-inspired mural: musicians, a vejigante, tropical fishes, amapola flowers, dancers and more.

She’s a bit afraid of the vejigante on the mural and was happy that it was just a painting. On her way back, she gets a pleasant surprise!  A hand is extended to her from the mural and she’s magically transported to Puerto Rico!

She danced and chanted until the vejigante appeared. She was afraid of him but he told her not to fear, held her hand and boom! Sofi is a vejigante herself. She flies above everyone, to El Yunque and the beaches then suddenly she’s awaken from this magical trip by her mom.

This story is inspired by the mural El Pueblo Cantor and you can find more information in the book’s backmatter including a glossary as well.  Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural is certainly a magical book for children of all ages.

Speaking of vejigante masks, you’ll enjoy reading about the Las Máscaras de Hatillo.

Puerto Rico Children’s Books About the Bomba

Al ritmo de Petra (Spanish Edition)  by Ana Castillo Muñoz and illustrated by Yamel Figueroa Sotomayor

Al ritmo de Petra is a beautiful picture book depicting the childhood life of Petra Cepeda, an artisan, dancer, poet, “bombera” and bolero singer. And how her love for the genre of the Puerto Rican bomba became to be. Her legacy is to keep her family traditions and the Puerto Rican culture alive future generations.

If you’re looking to learn and teach your children about the Puerto Rican and Afro Caribbean, Petra Cepeda this is the book that you need in your home/school library.

 

 

Sofia and her Bomba Drum, written by Isha Mary Renta Lopez and Illustrator Antonella Cammarano is a vibrant picture book that showcases Sofia challenging stereotypes. Her fascination with the bomba puertorriqueña takes her on a learning journey, only to find out that she’s not allowed to play the bomba drum. 

However, that doesn’t stop her!  This is a story of following your dreams and not giving up.  The backmatter has a vocabulary list with the definitions of the Puerto Rican bomba, dancers and instruments.   This book will inspire your students or children to follow their dreams and not let be boxed into a stereotype. I’m thrilled that Sofía y su Tambor de Bomba is also available in Spanish which is the copy that I bought for our home library.

When Julia Danced Bomba/Cuando Julia bailaba is a bilingual children’s book written by Raquel M. Ortiz and illustrated by Flor de Vita.  Julia prefers to do other things rather than dance bomba.  However, although she’s not the best dancer, she continues to practice and not compare herself to her classmates that are better dancer than her. This is a story of perseverance, and enjoying the process along the way.  The backmatter contains a glossary and general information about the bomba puertorriqueña.

Looking for more Puerto Rico inspired make sure to check out the 100+ Puerto Rican children’s books.

Puerto Rico’s Bomba Educational Resources

Whether you’re teaching Puerto Rican culture or want to learn about its people, check these resources out.  Just click on the images below:

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Puerto Rico Children's Books

 

 

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