Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead
The CBC Holidays Series explores stories that relate to specific holidays so that readers of all ages can celebrate in the best way… with a good book!
November 2 is Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday where deceased loved ones are celebrated during All Souls Day. Many believe that the souls of their ancestors crossover to the land of the living to be with their family on this day. To commemorate those who have passed on, an ofrenda (“offerings” presented on altars) is made and decorated with pictures of the deceased as well as food, orange marigolds, and favorite things from when they were alive. Families will also visit gravesites to speak and honor their ancestors with calaveras (“skulls,” made from clay or sometimes sugar) and pan de muerto (“bread of the dead” or Mexican pan dulce). It is also a day of dancing and costumes; many will have calaveras makeup decorating their faces as a way to welcome the deceased to join the festivities.
This holiday has expanded beyond the Mexican borders to other Latin American countries and the United States. So whether you’ve celebrated it for years, or is a recent tradition in your life, or you don’t celebrate this day and want to know more, we hope you enjoy the books below. Happy Día de los Muertos!
Celebrate the Day of the Dead!, by Diane de Anda; illus. Gloria Félix (Crown Books for Young Readers) — Fiction, Board Book, Diversity, Background / Culture, Humor, ages 0-3.
Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration, by Richard Keep (Holiday House / Pixel Ink / Peachtree) — Fiction, Picture Book, Background / Culture, Holidays, ages 4-6.
Day of the Dead, by Tony Johnston; illus. Jeanette Winter (Clarion Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Background / Culture, Holidays, ages 4-6.
The Day of the Dead Mystery, by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Random House Books for Young Readers) — Fiction, Prose, Mystery / Thriller, Background / Culture, Series, ages 7-12.
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, by Duncan Tonatiuh (ABRAMS / Abrams Books for Young Readers) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Biography / Memoir, Background / Culture, Spanish, ages 7-12.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost (The World of Gustavo), written and illustrated by Flavia Z. Drago (Candlewick) — Fiction, Picture Book, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spanish, Series, ages 4-6.
Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Macmillan Publishers / Square Fish) — Fiction, Picture Book, Background / Culture, Holidays, Spanish, ages 4-6.
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble, by Anna Meriano; illus. Mirelle Ortega (HarperCollins / Walden Pond Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Background / Culture, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, ages 7-12.
An Ofrenda for Perro, by Judith Valdés B.; illus. Carlos Vélez Aguilera (little bee books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Animals, Background / Culture, Spanish, ages 4-6.
The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead, by Cullen Bunn; illus. Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree (Oni Press) — Fiction, Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Series, Teen.
Te recuerdo (Remembering), by Xelena González; translated by Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz; illus. Adriana M. Garcia (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) — Fiction, Picture Book, Mental/Physical Health, Background / Culture, Spanish, ages 4-6.
Celebrate Día de los Muertos by reading a book!
List compiled by CBC’s resident holiday expert, Sommer Wissner. Check out other CBC Holiday book lists on our blog.