Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a holiday that originated from Aztec traditions and is currently celebrated in Mexico and among others of Mexican heritage. This holiday is used as a chance to remember and celebrate family and friends who have died. While the dates of the holiday coincide with the Halloween holiday, it is not viewed as spooky in any way. Instead of donning costumes to ward off spirits, Dia de los Muertos activities are designed to bring back the spirits of their departed ancestors and loved ones.
With that brief history in mind, we have created a list of the best children’s books about Dia de lost Muertos. These books illustrate many of the traditions and activities people look forward to participating in on the Day of the Dead. Included in the list are many favorites like “Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration,” “The Dead Family Diaz,” “Day of the Dead,” by Tony Johnston and “Rosita y Conchita (Rosita and Conchita).” These books about the Day of the Dead for kids are often written in both Spanish and English. Impressively, many have clever rhyming schemes in both languages.
While most books on the list are picture books, this list also includes a board book for younger children, usually ages 0-2, and a chapter book about the holiday. Picture books are a treat for all ages and these books really teach the history of Dia de los Muertos in a fun and engaging way that your youngest and oldest reader will enjoy.
Now, before we all grow old and join those spirits on the other side, let’s jump into this list and discover some great books!
Join Catrina on her favorite day and enjoy together all the things that “El dia de los muertos” The day of the Dead, make this celebration such a marvelous time. Acompaña a catrina en su día favorito, El día de los Muertos y descubre todas las cosas que hacen que esta celebración sea tan maravillosa
Now even the youngest children can enjoy the ghosts, skeletons and treats of this spirited holiday. With sugar skulls, sweet-smelling marigold petals, and joyful songs, a family welcomes back their beloved ancestors. This lively and colorful (and not too scary) tribute to a unique holiday is in English and Spanish.
The love and rituals surrounding the Mexican folk holiday― The Day of the Dead.
Funny Bones tells the story of how the amusing calaveras—skeletons performing various everyday or festive activities—came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he first drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons throughout much of his life, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. Juxtaposing his own art with that of Lupe’s, author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.
The Aldens are visiting friends for a big Dia de los Muertos celebration. The kids love learning about the holiday and helping out—that is until mysterious events threaten to ruin everyone’s preparations. Can the Aldens figure out what’s going on and help their friends save the celebration?
Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book - Every year Don Pedro and his family make papier-mâché skeletons, or calaveras, for Mexico’s Day of the Dead fiesta. From the Angel and Doctor to the Mariachi and Unicornio, there’s a special calavera for each letter of the alphabet. Come dance with them! Includes a glossary of Spanish words and an author’s note.
The Spirit of Tio Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story - It’s the Day of the Dead and Nando and his mother are going to honor Tío Fernando. Nando, named for Uncle Fernando, listens as his mother tells him that later, at the cemetery, they will meet with Tío Fernando’s spirit. Es el Día de los Muertos y Nando y su Madre van a honrar a Tío Fernando. Nando, nombrado en honor de Tío Fernando, escucha a su Madre decirle que mas adelante en el cementerio se van a encontrarse con el espirito de Tío Fernando.
Felipa and the Day of the Dead - Felipa’s beloved grandmother, Abuelita, has died. Felipa miser her terribly and is very sad. Her parents try to comfort Felipa. They tell her that the souls of the dead live on forever. So Felipa decides to find Abuelita’s soul. But where is it? She asks her grandmother’s donkey, her pig, and her llamas for help. She treks many miles to the highest mountain, but grandmother’s soul is nowhere to be found. Then, months later, the entire village is bustling with preparations for the Day of the Dead. Felipa joins in the celebrations honoring loved ones who have died, and in the process finally finds Abuelita’s soul.
Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras: The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead (English and Spanish Edition) - Mexico’s Day of the Dead fascinates U.S readers, whether for its joyful celebration of an unusual tradition or because it simply feels like home. San Vicente lets children join the celebration as they watch the skeletons rock, rattle, and roll those long old bones as they get ready for the biggest event of their social calendar. A short and fun essay, directed toward young readers, will explain this important Mexican holiday.
Graveyard skeletons shake, rattle, and roll for a Day of the Dead celebration. At dusk on the holiday known as Day of the Dead, a Mexican family has set out fiesta offerings in the graveyard in hopes that departed loved ones may return to visit. The playful skeletons rise from their graves to celebrate with gusto. All night long, they sing, dance, dine, tell stories, and play games. As morning approaches, they give thanks to the stars for their night of fun, tidy up after themselves, and leave no trace of their “clatter bash” behind as they return to their coffins until next year’s Day of the Dead. Author-illustrator Richard Keep’s rollicking rhyme―sprinkled with Spanish words―captures the bone-rattling sounds and fun of the evening. An illustrated afterword gives information about the customs associated with el Día de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration of honoring relatives who have passed on.
Fantastic rhyming, playful and colorful illustrations, and a celebratory message about honoring ancestors on the Dia de Los Muertos are a few reasons I think this is an excellent book. The inclusion of Spanish words might be make reading aloud a little awkward for some readers, but it gives the title a very authentic feel (and conveniently helps with the rhyming at times).
It’s Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and children throughout the pueblo, or town, are getting ready to celebrate! They decorate with colored streamers, calaveras, or sugar skulls, and pan de muertos, or bread of the dead. There are altars draped in cloth and covered in marigolds and twinkling candles. Music fills the streets. Join the fun and festivities, learn about a different cultural tradition, and brush up on your Spanish vocabulary, as the town honors their dearly departed in a traditional, time-honored style. ¡Es el Día de los Muertos y todos los niños del pueblo y ciudad están listos para celebrar! Decoran con calaveras lo calavera de azucar, pan de muertos y banderas. Hay altares cubriertos de manta con muchas flores, y velas parpadiendo. Musica llena las calles. Hay que unirse con los festivales y abrender una diferente cultura y traduciones y repasar el vocabulario en español, mientras el pueblo honra sus queridos en una tradución con el transcurso y con el estilo del tiempo.
In Mexico, Maria and her family celebrate Los Dâias de los Muertos, The Days of the Dead. Includes a recipe for pan de los muertos.
In Guatemala, there is a village called Santiago Sacatepéquez. It is a very small but famous place because once a year, on the day of the Day of the Dead, the people of Santiago fly some of the biggest kites in the world. As large as seven meters (twenty-three feet) wide, they fill the sky over the cemetery with brilliant colors. Juan and his brothers always helped their grandfather build the kite for the Day of the Dead. But their grandfather has recently died, and the boys must carry on the tradition on their own. This beautifully photographed book shows us the village of Santiago and tells us Juan’s story as he gathers the materials, builds the kite and, finally, flies it with this help of his friends.
A family celebrates Día de Muertos, a holiday for remembering those who have passed. When the monarch butterflies return to her Mexican countryside, Lupita knows that Día de Muertos, “the Day of the Dead,” is near. She and her favorite uncle watch the butterflies flutter in the trees. When a butterfly lands on Lupita’s hand, her uncle reminds her that she should never hurt a monarch because they are believed to be the souls of the departed. Lupita and her family get ready for the holiday. When the first of November arrives, the family will go to the cemetery to honor the memories of their loved ones. But this year is different—Lupita’s uncle cannot join them. Now, Lupita learns the true meaning of the celebration.
Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)) - The Goodfather - This is a classic counting tale that teaches learning to count in English and Spanish. It also involves the delightful Grandma Beetle and her clever encounter with Señor Calaveras, or Mr. Skeleton. It makes for a great title to enjoy on Dia de los Muertos and all throughout the year. The ending is fun and touching.
Día de los Muertos (Celebrate the World) - Mom of Boys - This book has cute illustrations that make the simple explanations of Dia de los Muertos very fun. It is very informative of this holiday telling all of the traditions and activities that many participate in. There is also added an element of joy to celebrating our family and friends who have gone before us rather than mourning.
Day of the Dead - The Goodfather - While the story is fun, it’s also simple. I think it’s the colorful illustrations that really make this a great Day of the Dead title. Little kids will enjoy the anticipation the children in the experience as they watch all of the preparations building to the celebration and are finally able to enjoy all of the yummy food and treats.
The Dead Family Diaz - A fresh, funny take on the Day of the Dead that’s packed with kid appeal! Every skeleton in the Land of the Dead is excited to celebrate el Día de los Muertos with the Living. But not Angelito. His big sister has told him all about their horrifying bulgy eyes and squishy skin. So when Angelito is separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he’s petrified—until he makes a new friend who is just as terrified of THEM as Angelito is. Then his new buddy turns out to be (gulp!) a living boy! Angelito runs as fast as his bony feet can carry him. Fortunately the traditions of the Day of the Dead reunite the two boys, just in time for some holiday fun. Full of wild, Tim Burton-esque art, this clever tale is sure to become un libro favorito for the Day of the Dead, Halloween season, and beyond.
Inspired by one of the most recognized symbols of Dia de Muertos or “Day of the Dead,” a holiday that celebrates life and remembers the dearly departed, this book will introduce little ones to emotional expressions and their first English and Spanish words.
It’s the Day of the Dead! It’s time to celebrate! In this bilingual book, a young girl is busy helping her family prepare to honor those who have died—especially her grandfather. She misses him very much and is excited for his spirit to visit that night. Es el Día de los Muertos. ¡Es tiempo de celebrar! En este libro biligua una niña joven esta ocupada ayudando a su familia preparar en los que han muerto―especialmente su abuelo. Ella lo estraña mucho y está con mucho emoción que su espirito venga de visita está noche.
Help Conchita celebrate the life of her dearly departed sister as she sets up a memorial altar for her on the Day of the Dead. This heartfelt story book rhymes in English & Spanish. Includes how to make your own sugar skulls activities.