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14 Inspiring books for kids set in South America


I thought I would share some inspiring, illustrated children's books set in South America with you. Maybe the list will motivate you to learn more about South America or even inspire you to add one of them to your list of future travel destinations. As traveling is still limited at the moment due to the pandemic, it does not hurt to dream and explore our planet through books. Happy reading!




1. Ada's Violin




It is the remarkable true story of Ada Rios, a little girl who grew up in a small town: Cateura in Paraguay built on a landfill. She wishes to play the violin, but her family couldn't afford it. One day a music teacher Favio Chavez arrives, makes all of the children instruments out of the recycled objects in the landfill, and plays at different venues with his poverty-stricken students. The book is beautifully illustrated and teaches problem solving and grit. It is the perfect picture book for kids who like true stories about other cultures. This book has many similarities with a previous book with discussed: "One Plastic bag," the recycling women of Gambia. Both protagonists are female and deal with trash piling up in their towns and find ways to recycle the garbage around them. We recommend watching the 60 minutes videos here after reading the book.




2. Up and Down the Andes




It is a beautiful book about children from Peru traveling to the Andean city of Cusco for the sun festival (Inti Raymi, a traditional Inca festival). A fun read with kids with great factual information about the country of Peru and other Peruvian festivals.



3. Waiting for the Biblioburro




A beautifully illustrated book in both Spanish and English perfect for our multilingual kiddos out there. It is a true story about a little girl ana in Columbia and her love of books. However, she resides in a remote village with no library to go to, and she only has one book given to her by her teacher. But one day, someone arrives in her village on a donkey and calls it the "Biblioburro." He provides books to the children and says he will return to give them new ones- Get a copy to learn more. It is an excellent story about the joy of reading and picking out books.




4. For the Love of Soccer





A great, upbeat autobiography by Pele. The Brazilian soccer phenomenon. It is a great colorful read for all the soccer fans out there.



5. The Princess of the Springs





A Brazilian story about princess Ibura and the obstacles she must overcome to save her child and her mum. It teaches how sometimes love is not enough and reveals Ibura's wit and strength through many challenges.



6. Me Llamo Gabriela/my Name Is Gabriela





This bilingual picture book in both Spanish/English is a biography of Gabriela Mistral. She was born in Chile and was the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1945. She was a teacher, writer, and poet.




7. To Go Singing Through the World




It is the story of Pablo Neruda's boyhood up to the time he left for college at the age of sixteen. The book chronicle his childhood in the Chilean frontier-town of Temuco. It also highlighted the early years of his lifelong friendship with fellow poet Gabriela Mistral, the principal of his school's division, who became his mentor. Neruda won the Nobel prize for literature in 1971. The author told the story using quotes from Neruda's writings. Plus, one of Neruda's poems is printed on the last pages in both Spanish and English.




8. Mariana and the Merchild




The story is a folktale about an elderly childless woman getting to temporarily care for a magical child.

Beautifully illustrated Chilean folktale that tells the story of an elderly childless woman caring for a merchild.



9. On the Pampas




It is about a little girl who spends the summer on her grandparents' ranch in the Argentine pampas. It follows her many adventures.




10. Love and Roast chicken




Cuy, a guinea pig, repeatedly outsmarts Tío Antonio,a fox intent on eating him! You will learn about the Andes Mountains and the indigenous people. This is a traditional tale the author learned while living in Peru. There is a lot of Spanish throughout the text, and there are translations at the end of the book.




11. A Pen Pal for Max





This watercolor illustrated book is about Max, a child from Chile, becomes pen pals with Maggie, a child from the United States, hoping to learn more about the world. When an earthquake hits Max's town, Maggie and her friends send supplies to Max and his classmates.




12. The Magic Bean Tree




A folktale from the Quechua people of Argentina. It describes how the people brought back the rain by getting rid of the bird that blocked them from the gods' view.



13. Journey to the river sea





The story is set a hundred years ago and follows Maia, a young orphan girl in Brazil, through her Amazonian adventures.





14. Abuela's weave




Beautifully illustrated story about a Guatemalan girl, Esperanza, and her grandmother Abuela. It deals with the clash between ancient and modern civilizations as they travel through Guatemala to sell their colorful handmade tapestries. There are lots of references to Mayan culture in the book.









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