Pura Belpré Award Winners

The Pura Belpré Award is given annually to a writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Hispanic cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. This list contains the Children's Narrative and Youth Illustrator award winners from the past 10 years, as well as some books about the life and work of Pura Belpré. Visit the Pura Belpré Award website for more information. 

Compiled by:
Jon S.
Winners for Children's Narrative
Efrén Divided

Ernesto Cisneros
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cisnero)

Efrén Nava must take care of his siblings when his mother is deported to Mexico. This moving novel portrays Efrén’s resiliency in a time of personal crisis and will open up important discussions about the U.S. immigration policy and empathy. 2021 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.


Claribel Ortega
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN Ortega Frizzy)

Marlene hates going to the salon every weekend to straighten her curly hair so she's more "presentable." With the help of her friends Camila and Tia Ruby, she slowly learns to appreciate her natural curls. 2023 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.

Juana & Lucas

Juana Medina
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J-FC Medina)
Series: Juana & Lucas

Juana is a Colombian girl who loves comic books, brussels sprouts, and her dog Lucas. She dislikes school uniforms and learning English. But when Juana gets the chance to visit the Spaceland amusement park in the United States, she becomes determined to learn the new language. Spanish words are included in this fun and playful first chapter book. 2017 award winner. Recommended for ages 5–8.

The Last Cuentista

Donna Barba Higuera
(Juvenile Fiction - J Higuera)

Hundreds of years after the destruction of Earth, Petra wakes up on a new planet. As the only person who remembers Earth, she is responsible for keeping the stories of the past alive. But the new cult-like Collective believes that the past—and perhaps Petra herself—should remain dead. An original science fiction story about our cultural memories. 2022 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.

Lucky Broken Girl

Ruth Behar
(Juvenile Fiction - J Behar)

Ruthie’s family just emigrated from Cuba to New York City when a devastating accident leaves her in a full-body cast. She now has to relearn how to use her body and somehow feel at home in his new country while she’s confined to her bedroom. This story, set in 1960s New York, is based on the author’s own childhood experiences. 2018 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.

Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir

Pedro Martín
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN 921 Martin Mar)

Pedro Martín's funny and moving graphic novel memoir recounts his childhood as a kid born in the U.S. to parents from Mexico. When his whole family (all 11 of them!) piles into their Winnebago to drive 2,000 miles down to Mexico to pick up their mysterious Abuelito, Pedro learns more about his Mexican identity. 2024 winner for both children's narrative and youth illustrator. Recommended for ages 9–12. 

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

Carlos Hernandez
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hernand)

13-year-old Sal traverses the multiverse, bringing back alternate versions of his long-deceased mother. When he befriends the student body president Gabi, their friendship and adventures might just break the universe! A funny and fast-paced sci-fi story that’s part of the Rick Riordan Presents series. 2020 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.

Winners for Youth Illustrator
Dancing Hands

Margarita Engle
(Juvenile Nonfiction - 780.92 Carreno Eng)

By the time Teresa Carreño was six years old, her family fled a revolution in Venezuela and emigrated to New York City. By the time she was eight years old, she was a piano prodigy, composing her own music and even playing for the president of the United States–Abraham Lincoln! In this picture book biography, Rafael López’s exquisite art contrasts the struggle of two countries at war and the grief of a mourning father with the colorful beauty Teresa’s music plays, bringing comfort to the heartbroken. 2020 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–8.


Yuyi Morales
(Juvenile Nonfiction - 791 Morales Mor)

Yuyi Morales tells the story of her own immigration to the United States with her infant son, where language, culture, and loneliness are barriers to feeling at home in this strange, new country. That all changes when she and her son discover the public library, and they can see themselves represented by the picture books on the shelves. Many classic children’s books written by Hispanic authors are celebrated in this personal autobiography. 2019 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Drum Dream Girl

Margarita Engle
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Eng)

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dreamed of playing drums for a crowd, but girls were not allowed to become drummers in Cuba. This beautiful and poetic book tells the true story of Millo’s childhood up to her groundbreaking 1932 performance in Cuba’s first all-girl dance band. 2016 award winner. Recommended for ages 3–8.

La Princesa and the Pea

Susan Middleton Elya
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ely)

In this retelling of the classic fairy tale, a prince falls in love with a beautiful maiden, but his madre insists on challenging the girl with an impossible test before they can marry. The text features rhyming couplets and simple Spanish words that complete with a glossary. The illustrated textiles are inspired by authentic weaving and embroidery of Indigenous people of Peru. 2018 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Viva Frida

Yuyi Morales
(Juvenile Nonfiction - 750.92 Kahlo Mor)

Frida Kahlo’s life is conveyed in sparse language and mixed media photography in this highly unique bilingual biography. Kahlo plays and dreams and creates, which makes her artwork as much of a part of her as life itself. Not only a beautiful portrait of an artist, this book is a love letter to the artist that lives within every child. 2015 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Where Wonder Grows

Xelena González
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Gon)

A grandma invites her granddaughters to explore her collection of rocks, crystals, and gems, each one with a story to tell. The stones evoke wonder in the world and spark their imaginations. 2023 award winner. Recommended for ages 9–12.

¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge

Raúl the Third
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rau)
Series: World of ¡Vamos!

Little Lobo must take his delivery truck across the puente to the big city. However, the bridge is very busy, and they get stuck in traffic. That doesn’t stop Little Lobo and friends from playing games and having fun while they wait! Vibrant, intricate illustrations bring this colorful world to life. 2022 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–7.

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat

Raúl the Third
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rau)
Series: World of ¡Vamos!

Little Lobo is making a delivery for his friend El Toro and the luchadores, so he must visit a variety of food trucks outside the Coliseo before the big match! The beautifully detailed art invites repeated readings and teaches readers Spanish words without feeling like a textbook. Spanish food and wrestling are also on display in the second installment of this fun series. 2021 award winner. Recommended for ages 4–7.

Works About Pura Belpré
The Life of Pura

Patty Rodriguez
(Español Juvenil - ESPAÑOL Baby Book)

A bilingual board book that recounts the life of Pura Belpré. The biography uses simple words and sentences for easy understanding, and the English and Spanish text on each page can help the youngest readers familiarize themselves with the two languages. Recommended for ages birth–3.


Pura Belpré
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 398.2 Ote Bel)

Belpré herself wrote this retelling of a classic folk tale from Puerto Rico. Otè is a poor man who must search the forest for food to feed his family. In the forest, he stumbles across the devil and tries to steal his food. When he’s caught, Otè must carry the devil on his back to his home, where the devil eats all the family’s food. Will Otè be able to rid his house of the devil before starving? Illustrated by Paul Galdone. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Anika Aldamuy Denise
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Belpre Den)

Vivid language and bright colors celebrate Pura Belpré’s life in this picture book biography. Belpré’s work as a librarian, puppeteer, and storyteller are all described to show how one librarian can bring meaningful representation to a community. A detailed bibliography is featured in the back to encourage further reading. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories

Annette Bay Pimentel
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Belpre Pim)

Pura Belpré was a trailblazer among librarians. This picture book documents her challenging the status quo of what kinds of stories can be told to children. Since the stories she listened to growing up in Puerto Rico weren’t in books, she wrote and published her own books! Recommended for ages 4–8.

The Storyteller’s Candle

Lucia González
(Español Juvenil - ESPAÑOL Ej Gon)

Cousins Hildamar and Santiago struggle during their first winter in New York City. But when a remarkable librarian named Pura Belpré visits their school, the children learn that the public library is a welcome space for anybody who speaks Spanish! Soon, library storytimes become an important part in New York’s hispanic community. This book was a 2009 Pura Belpré Award Honor Book. Recommended for ages 4–8.