South America

Here are ten books to transport you and your children to 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 AroundA 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+

Check out this author and illustrator!

  • Monica Brown – My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia CruzMy Name is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela MinstralPablo Neruda: Poet of the People
  • Beatriz Vidal – The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from ArgentinaRainbow Crow,Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain




3 Responses to South America

  1. Whoops .. in thinking about it, I’m now realizing that Honduras is in Central America, often considered part of North America but I don’t find it’s a region that’s often included so “The Good Garden” might still be of interest.

  2. “The Good Garden” by Katie Smith Milway, published by Kids Can Press

    We LOVED this book about Honduras, family and community spirit and food security

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