I've always been a huge book nerd. I've been reading ever since I can remember. At first it was classic novels, then it moved on to today's top books and young adult fiction (which I love) even though I'm not that young anymore. Although I've always loved books, the one thing I very rarely saw was a protagonist that looked like me. Sadly, books, especially children's books, are heavily lacking Hispanic main characters.

Although Latino students make up nearly a quarter of the nation's public school's enrollment, today The New York Times wrote about the sad reality that our kids are just not seeing themselves in the books that are available. In fact, Hispanic books also very, very rarely win the Newbery Medal, the Oscars of the children's literature world. Despite this depressing news, there IS something you can do: Get them some great Latino books ASAP! Start with our list of the 16 essential Latino children's books with options ranging very young kids to young adults.

Read more in ¿Qué más? Why I'm all for sexy covers to lure teens to classic literature

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I Love Saturdays y domingos (Alma Flor Ada) 1

I Love Saturdays y domingos (Alma Flor Ada)

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A book about a bicultural family follows a little girl as she visits her European grandparents on Saturdays and her Mexican American abuelitos on Sundays. Ages 5 & up.

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Esperanza Rising (Pam Muñoz Ryan) 2

Esperanza Rising (Pam Muñoz Ryan)

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This book follows the adventures of Esperanza from her rich upbringing in Mexico to poor immigrant life in California in the 1930s. Ages 8 & up.

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When I Am Singing To You (Rebecca Burke) 3

When I Am Singing To You (Rebecca Burke)

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Follow the adventures of 14-year-old Carmen after she is kicked out of her home due to a misunderstanding with her mother and she fights with fierce determination to return home. Ages 12 & up.

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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Julia Alvarez) 4

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Julia Alvarez)

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Following the adventures of the four Garcia girls as they try to acclamate to their new surroundings in the Bronx after fleeing from the Dominican Republic. Ages 12 & up.

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Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida (Victor Martinez) 5

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida (Victor Martinez)

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The story of Manny's coming of age as he battles and learns to live with his poor and woefully dysfunctional family in a dusty California town. Ages 12 & up.

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Boyfriends with Girlfriends (Alex Sanchez) 6

Boyfriends with Girlfriends (Alex Sanchez)

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An acclaimed novel where four teens explore sexuality, including Sergio--who is a bisexual boy with a girlfriend until he meets Lance. Ages 16 & up.

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The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros) 7

The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)

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This classic of Latino lit follows Esperanza as she grows up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago and uses poems to express herself. Ages 12 & up.

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The Jumping Tree (Rene Saldaña, Jr) 8

The Jumping Tree (Rene Saldaña, Jr)

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The book follows Rey as as he navigates sixth to eigth grade in his Texas hometown, with half of his family across the border. Ages 10 & up.

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Accidental Love (Gary Soto) 9

Accidental Love (Gary Soto)

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A cellphone mix-up leads to a budding romance between 14-year-old Marisa and whimpy chess player Rene. Ages 12 & up.

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Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa (Micol Ostow) 10

Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa (Micol Ostow)

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Emily is half-Jewish and half-Puerto Rican. In this coming of age tale, she spends a summer on the island and discovers who she truly is. Ages 12 & up.

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City of Beasts (Isabel Allende) 11

City of Beasts (Isabel Allende)

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Combining magical realism in the Amazon rain forest, this is the story of 15-year-old Alexander Cold and 12-year-old Nadia Santos. Ages 12 & up.

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Tortilla Sun (Jennifer Cervantages) 12

Tortilla Sun (Jennifer Cervantages)

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The story of 14-year-old Izzy, who is dismayed to learn that she will spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico. Ages 8 & up.

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90 Miles to Havana (Enrique Flores-Galbis) 13

90 Miles to Havana (Enrique Flores-Galbis)

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The story of Julian, who is sent with his brothers to Miami--having to leave his parents behind in Castro's 1960s Cuba. Ages 8 & up.

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Call Me Maria (Judith Ortiz Cofer) 14

Call Me Maria (Judith Ortiz Cofer)

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Maria is caught between two worlds: living with her father in New York while yearning for her mother in Puerto Rico. Ages 8 & up.

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My Shoes & I (Rene Colato Lainez) 15

My Shoes & I (Rene Colato Lainez)

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Mario, wearing new shoes that his mother gave him, makes his way from El Salvador to join her in the US during a harrowing journey north.. Ages 6 & up.

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Vida (Patricia Engel) 16

Vida (Patricia Engel)

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This book follows 23-year-old Sabina, a child of Colombian immigrants who grows up in New Jersey before heading off to find work and love in Miami. Ages 16 & up.

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