I have these Day of the Dead books in my classroom and have seen how my students get motivated to look at them to read and look at the art. In the elementary Spanish program at the school where I teach, the Day of the Dead is one of the cultural explorations we do to help our students to understand what this celebration means to many communities in Mexico. We are not celebrating it, but we aim to show appreciation of a tradition that’s important to another culture. The Day of the Dead is not related to Halloween. The Day of the Dead is a two-day celebration to remember loved ones who have passed away. This is a happy and colorful celebration. Here are my five top book picks:
Día de los Muertos (Celebrate the World) introduces children to the meaning of the celebration in a fun and dynamic way. Students are also exposed to Spanish vocabulary related to the celebration.
The Day of the Dead / El Día De Los Muertos: A Bilingual Celebration (Spanish Edition) is by far my favorite. I love all the art in the book. The book is bilingual, so you can choose in what language you want to read it. If you get the audio, you will love the music. The book was narrated by Rita Moreno.
Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead has a beautiful story that shows the importance of Monarch butterflies in this celebration. In some places in Mexico, it is believed that these butterflies carry the souls of loved ones who have passed away.
I feel that these next two books need teachers to provide a little bit of background about this celebration before sharing them with the children.
Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family (First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art) is a fun and short book for younger students. Great to introduce and review family members in the context of El Día de los Muertos.
Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration is a vivid book! There is not much text, but it’s great to use to describe the pictures. The illustrations will keep your students engaged. At the end of the book there is plentiful information about the Day of the Dead celebration.
Last, but not least! Here is a banner to decorate your classroom!