Celebrated from October 31 through November 2, Día De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that celebrates, remembers and honors deceased loved ones.
A great way to introduce this cultural tradition into your family is through storytime. With that in mind, PBS Kids has compiled a list of Day of the Dead books that will teach kids about the long-held tradition in a way they’ll understand. According to PBS Kids, “Each of the books on this list offers a unique interpretation of the holiday that will provide an excellent introduction for students who are new to the Day of the Dead, as well as an important opportunity for students who celebrate the holiday to share their own family traditions.”
Here are Parentology’s picks from that list.
[*Editor’s note: Amazon Affiliate links are included in the description of each book. As an Amazon Associate, Parentology earns from qualifying purchases.]
Stories About Tradition
A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn
Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeanette Winter
Luenn’s interactive A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead tells the story of Rosita, a young girl struggling with finding just the right way to honor her late grandmother on Day of the Dead.
Winter’s Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book is ideal for kids learning the alphabet with its examples in both English and Spanish. In the tome, Don Pedro and his family make papier-mache skeletons, or Calaveras, for a Day of the Dead celebration with each Calavera representing a letter. There’s a bit of history brought into the story, as well. The character of Don Pedro is fashioned after Don Pedro Linares whose Calaveras are considered works of art throughout Mexico.
Celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead With Cristina and Her Blue Bunny by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration by Richard Keep
Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy’s Celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead With Cristina and Her Blue Bunny illustrates how Halloween and the Day of the Dead can work together. As Cristina’s friends get ready to go trick-or-treating, Cristina explains her family’s traditions of Day of the Dead.
Keep’s Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration is a fun and festive story about skeletons getting ready to celebrate the Day of the Dead. The vibrant illustrations and energetic musical phrases make the book all the more fun.
Johnston’s Day of the Dead emphasizes the importance of Mexico’s traditions by capturing the excitement of one family’s eager children. The kids learn patience as their elders encourage them to wait for the day’s celebration to commence.
Muller’s Felipa and the Day of the Dead spotlights the way this day helps family’s keep their loved-ones alive in memory. Felipa fixates on the idea that “souls live forever” and searches far and wide for her grandmother.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities by Carol Sabbeth
I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story by Janice Levy
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are well-known to older generations, but for kids, they may be strangers. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities let kids explore the same traditions Kahlo and Rivera once did, such as making an ofrenda, or objects for Day of the Dead rituals.
In Levy’s I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story, a young girl thinks about her grandfather and hopes his spirit will visit on Day of the Dead. More than that, she wishes his soul is carried alongside the Monarch butterflies that return to Mexico at this time each year.
Krull’s beautifully illustrated Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead begins with Maria honoring her baby brother on the first Day of the Dead. Her sadness is supplemented by her parent’s journey to the US, however, while they’re gone, Maria finds a way to make herself feel better with the traditions that remind her of family. This is a perfect introductory read for young children who have experienced loss or separation.
Pablo Remembers is a compelling photo essay following one family’s preparations for Day of the Dead. Ancona’s photos highlight the family’s activities and memories of their loving-grandmother. This authentic glimpse of daily life in Oaxaca, Mexico, compels readers who’ve never learned about the tradition.
Barner’s bright illustrations in The Day of the Dead capture the vibrancy of festivities that follow this night of celebration in both Spanish and English text.
While San Vicente’s The Festival of Bones is fictitious, the traditions they portray are not and serve to give kids a great introduction to Day of the Dead. The easy rhyming text — both in Spanish and English — and fanciful illustrations have a robust Mexican flavor.
The Spirit of Tío Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story by Janice Levy
Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman
Levy’s The Spirit of Tío Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story follows Nando as he finds ways to honor his late uncle, along the way, imagining how his uncle’s spirit will return.
Goldman’s Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead find Lupita and Tio Urbano enthralled by the Monarch butterflies arriving each day. According to Tio Urbano, the butterflies are representative of the souls of passed loved-ones arriving just in time for Day of the Dead. When her uncle becomes sick and dies, Lupita feels only sadness. However, the Monarchs make her feel at peace.
Day of the Dead Books — Sources
*Please note, Amazon Affiliate links are included in the description of each book. As an Amazon Associate, Parentology earns from qualifying purchases.