10 Children’s Books About South America

Here are ten books to transport you and your children to our first destination — South America. I searched high and low to compile a list of good books to expose children to a variety of facets of life in South America. There are sadly not many picture books set in South America. Please share any picture books about South America that you enjoy in the comments section below!

Up and Down the Andes by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty. In rhyming verse, Up and Down the Andes describes children from various parts of Peru traveling to the city of Cusco, Peru, to participate in Inti Raymi, a traditional Inca festival. The endnotes contain excellent information about Inti Raymi and other Peruvian festivals, Peru’s history, the Andes Mountains, and the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Ages 3+

For the Love of Soccer! by Pele. A autobiography of Brazilian soccer phenomenon Pele. Pele is widely considered the greatest soccer player in the world. Post-Pele, Brazil continues to be an international soccer powerhouse, and soccer continues to be a significant part of Brazilian culture. Frank Morrison’s illustrations are colorful and dynamic. Ages 3+

The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan Mitchell and Connie McLellan. Introduces kids to the Amazon Rainforest via an adaptation of the song The Green Grass Grew All Around. A Rainforest Grew All Around is a cumulative rhyme that is fun to read aloud. This book contains a recipe for rainforest cookies made with ingredients that initially came from rainforests. Ages 3+

A Pen Pal for Max by Gloria Rand and Ted Rand. In this fictional story, Max, a boy from Chile, and Maggie, a girl from the United States, become pen pals. When an earthquake hits Max’s home, Maggie and her classmates in the United States send supplies to Max and his classmates in Chile. A Pen Pal for Max would be a good starting point for a conversation about the fact that many of the agricultural products we consume here in the United States come from South America. Ages 4+

Me llamo Gabriela by Monica Brown and John Parra. A very nice introduction to Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American writer to receive the Nobel Price in Literature. Me llamo Gabriela is well written with lovely illustrations by John Parra. Ages 4+

The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina by Nancy Van Laan and Beatriz Vidal. This Argentine legend conveys the importance of rain to the people of the Argentine pampas. The Magic Bean Tree is beautifully illustrated by Beatriz Vidal who also illustrated the prize winning Bringing the Rain to Kapiti PlainAges 5+

On the Pampas by Maria Cristina Brusca. The story of a child who spends the summer on her grandparents’ ranch in the Argentine pampas. On the Pampas is a series of vignettes about the girl’s adventures, learning to ride a horse, lasso a calf, bake a cake with a giant nandu egg and more. Ages 5+

Cassio’s Day: From Dusk to Dawn in a Brazilian Village by Maria de Fatima Campos. In a straightforward manner, Cassio’s Day describes six-year-old Cassio eating breakfast, going to school, playing with friends, celebrating his father’s birthday, and going to bed. Cassio has a full day, which includes stops to watch a woman in his village make cheese and to watch a man in his village make a basket. Ages 5+

Victoria Goes to Brazil by Maria de Fatima Campos. Describes a girl Victoria’s travels in Brazil, the country where her mother was born. Victoria Goes to Brazil reads like an informal travel log. The highlights of this book are the book’s intimate feel and the variety of photographs from around Brazil. Ages 6+

To Go Singing through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda by Deborah Kogan Ray. Introduces children to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. To Go Singing through the World focuses on Pablo Neruda’s early influences: the Chilean rainforests, books, and encouragement from poet Gabriela Minstral. Author Deborah Kogan Ray has incorporated excerpts from Pablo Neruda’s poetry and prose into this biography. Ages 6+

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13 Responses to 10 Children’s Books About South America

  1. Dan says:

    Thank you for this list! Very helpful :-)

  2. Kids’ Books Bolivia has an extensive collection of bilingual (Spanish/English), and in some cases trilingual (in one of Bolivia’s 36 indigenous languages) books about Bolivian reality, that serve to raise international awareness about Bolivia’s diverse cultures and pressing social issues.

  3. Keira says:

    Another suggestion is “The Streets are Free.” Set in Venezuela, it tells the story of neighborhood children who advocate for and finally receive a city park. It’s written by Kurusa and illustrated by Monika Doppert.

  4. Keira says:

    Wonderful list!

  5. Amy says:

    I would also really like to read Monica Brown’s biography of Pablo Neruda that came out this year. Here’s a great review from Gathering Books: http://gatheringbooks.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/nonfiction-monday-pablo-neruda-poet-of-the-people-by-monica-brown-and-illustrated-by-julie-paschkis/

  6. Amy says:

    Thanks for mentioning these books, Corinne. The story of Luis Soriano is a neat one. I have read Jeanette Winter’s version and look forward to reading Monica Brown’s as well.

  7. Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter is set in Columbia and tells the true story of Luis Soriano and the work his does with his mobile donkey library. Monica Brown has a new book, Waiting for the Biblioburro, which is also based on Luis Soriano’s work!

  8. Zoe says:

    So, so pleased to have discovered you! Do you know about these two challenges:
    Off to add you to my feed :-)

  9. This is my first visit to your blog. I love your book lists. They will come in handy with my earth school for children where we often learn about other cultures.

    happy day!

  10. Meemah says:

    Another thing I can look forward to once I retire is going on the trips around the world with you. Two of the books that particularly intrigued me were the ones about Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Do you get these books at the library?

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