Argentina: Best Children’s Books
This month our Global Learning Series is focusing on Argentina, so of course I raided our library for any and all books about this fascinating South American country! Below is a collection of the best children’s books about Argentina that we found, a mix of legends, tall tales, and contemporary stories. Enjoy! This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Best Children’s Books about Argentina
Auki is a young boy anxious to join his father and the other men of his village in their annual hunt, but each year his father tells him he must wait. One day Auki decides to prove that he is ready by hunting for the puma alone. He not only comes face to face with the fearsome creature, he also stumbles upon a mysterious cave, whose walls are covered in painted hands. Forgetting his original quest, Auki sets out to discover the secret behind the hands, testing his own courage and wits in the process. Ghost Hands is a beautiful coming of age story inspired by the ancient Cave of Hands in Patagonia and the Tehuelche people who created it. The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina is a Quechua legend from the pampas of Argentina. When the rain stops falling one year, young Topec decides that the rain has just lost its way, so he sets out to bring it back. In those days there was only one tree, a magic carob tree, and when he arrives there after a long journey, Topec is told by the tree that the Great Bird of the Underworld is blocking the sky with its giant wings, so that the gods cannot see that the pampas need rain. Brave Topec leads his people in a daring plan to chase the Bird away and bring back the rain to the pampas. Today in Argentina the carob tree is still considered to bring good luck. A Mapuche legend from the Patagonia region tells of Kalfulemu, whose curiosity lands him in trouble over and over but in the end leads to a better life for him and his people. Kalfulemu sees the power that witches hold over the Mapuche and wants to discover the secret of the their power. He tries to sneak up to a witch’s cave but becomes so frightened that he runs off without his shadow. Without it, he is shunned by everyone and falls into despair and poverty. Lonely, he strikes up a friendship with a tree (since trees could talk in those days), who comes up with a plan to get Kalfulemu’s shadow back – as long as his curiosity doesn’t get the best of him! El mapuche sin sombra (The Mapuche Without a Shadow) is a fun tale to share with your kids about the risks and rewards of following your curiosity. A really fun legend from the Mocobí people is Aletín y El Día Que El Cielo Se Vino Abajo (Aletin and the Day the Sky Fell), which tells of the early days of the world, when there were only a few people and plants and the sun sometimes forgot where it was going. After a busy day of guiding the sun to its bed, Aletín wakens to find that the sky has fallen! He leads his people in an effort to hang the sky back up, only to see the sun come crashing down. As the sun begins to burn the earth, changing people into never been seen animals, Aletin knows it is up to him to save his people. A wonderfully told story of the creation of order in the world and the beginnings of the Mocobi people. The bilingual book Las Manchas del Sapo / How The Toad Got His Spots relates a folktale from Argentina about a toad who loved to dance and sing. When Luisito finds out that the birds are having a dance in the sky, he simply has to find a way to attend. He hitches a ride in a guitar case, but his presence doesn’t go unnoticed. When the birds discover their uninvited guest, they decide to teach him a lesson. A fun animal story to share with kids. Teach children about the history of Argentina’s independence from Spain by learning about San Martin, considered the liberator of Argentina, Peru, and Chile. In Conoce a Jose de San Martin / Get to know Jose de San Martin we see the Great Liberator as an old man, playing with his beloved granddaughter. The story itself only hints at his role in history, instead showing us San Martin as his family might have seen him, though a more detailed biography as well as a glossary are included at the back of the book. Part of a series of children’s biographies on important figures from Latin American history, such as Picasso, Bolívar, and Neruda. One of the most remarkable stories is Jemmy Button, based on the true story of one of four young natives taken from Tierra del Fuego to England in 1830 as part of an imperialist experiment in “forced civilization.” Jemmy Button’s English name comes from the mother-of-pearl button that his family was given as payment for him. The book captures well what this incredible journey must have been like for Jemmy, through the long overseas journey and adapting to life in a strange new land. While the book hints that Jemmy spent years in England, it was actually about 15 months, after which he and his two surviving companions were returned home. (One had died of smallpox soon after reaching England). As a children’s book, this doesn’t dive into all the complexity of the story and what life after his return was like for Jemmy, but it is a wonderful tool to start children thinking about such episodes in history. Get a look at life on a traditional ranch in the Argentine pampas as we follow a young girl (the author as a child) as she leaves Buenos Aires to spend the summer with her grandparents in the countryside. Young María Cristina learns to ride horses, use a lasso like the gauchos (cowboys), and steal an egg from the nest of a ñandú (South American ostrich). On the Pampas is a wonderful way to teach children about what life was like in the pampas for many people during the early part of the century. In On the Pampas (above) Maria Cristina Brusca mentions how much as a child she loved to listen to the gauchos tell tall tales around the campfire. One such tale she undoubtedly heard was this version of the Hispanic folktale about a poor blacksmith who inadvertently sells his soul to the devil for 20 years of youth and a bag of gold. But when the Devil comes to collect years later, he is the one who is in for a surprise! Find out how this wily old man manages to outwit the Devil and his companions in The Blacksmith and the Devils. Tina en el Aconcagua : El centinela de piedra (The Stone Sentry) is one of the few books I found set in contemporary Argentina. It is part of a series of books about Tina, a young world adventurer who loves to mountain climb! She has climbed mountains like Everest and Kilimanjaro, so when she goes to South America of course she wants to climb its highest peak as well. As a result, Tina travels with her new friend Lucho to Argentina’s Aconcagua. Before reaching the summit, the kids visit with local animals, hear an Incan legend, and learn about an ancient mummy discovered nearby. The engaging story and illustrations make this a fun way for kids to learn about Argentina. This post is part of the fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Through the month (September 15 – October 15), you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can enter to win in our great giveaway and link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage! This post is also part of the Global Learning Series focusing on Argentina, so be sure to stop by for great resources to teach kids about Argentina!
Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway!
Giveaway begins Monday, September 14 and goes through October 15, 2015.
Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules.
Sheet of Mexico themed nail wraps from Jamberry US & Canada Shipping Only
Large Latin American prize basket (scarves, purse, bracelets, books, map) from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only
Hola Hello CD from Mariana Iranzi US Shipping Only
Kids’ T-shirt from Ellie Elote US Shipping Only
Smaller Latin American prize basket (scarves, purse, bracelets) from Spanish Playground US Shipping Only
Hola Hello CD from Mariana Iranzi US Shipping Only
3 picture books: Finding the Music/En pos de la música by Jennifer Torres Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube by Pat Mora The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza by Juan Felipe Herrera (in honor of his recently being named the Poet Laureate) from Lee and Low Books US Shipping Only
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