Have you ever heard of Day of the Dead? The Day of the Dead, known as “Día de los Muertos” is one of Mexico’s most important celebrations. Ask your children to find Mexico on the map. How far is Mexico from your hometown? What do you know about Mexico? During the first week of November people remember their loved ones who have died by visiting them in the cemeteries, creating small displays in honor of them, and making certain traditional food. There are many children’s books to explain to kids about the traditions and meaning behind the Day of the Dead celebrations. Here are our favorites:
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Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter is a small but colorful and wonderfully simple story, that touches on all of the important elements of Day of the Dead: the marigolds, mole, pan de muertos, sugar skulls, the candles. A family in a small town in Mexico prepares for Día de los Muertos, and finally spends the night in the cemetery remembering their grandparents. The illustrations contain a lot of details, but are quite small. I would not use this book for a class unless I had access to an Elmo (document camera/projector). However, for reading on the couch with my 4 kids, the size was perfect. This is a fantastic book to introduce your children to the Day of the Dead!
The next book is El dia de los muertos / The Day of the Dead. This has slightly less information than the first book, but is written in both Spanish and English (even though it is labelled as the “Spanish version”)! There are short, rhyming sentences that describe what one family does to prepare for this celebration. I love that it is bilingual!!
Calavera Abecedario means the “Skeleton Alphabet,” and is a playful book showing skeletons doing different jobs and everyday activities. It begins with Don Pedro and his son making papier-maché skeletons in preparation for Day of the Dead, and continues with a different skeleton for every letter of the alphabet. The Spanish words are obvious enough to guess from the detailed and vivid illustrations, and there is a glossary in the back for reference.
This non-fiction, easy-to-read book contains straight-forward descriptions of the reasons behind the celebration, the decorations, visiting the cemetery, the food, and the skeletons. With bright photographs, Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life and Death
by Amanda Doering captures real families celebrating, and honoring their loved ones who have passed away.
After reading these books, ask your children to tell you some important things related to Day of the Dead.
- What are the foods that are typically eaten in Mexico during this celebration?
- What types of decorations are used in Day of the Dead?
- What do families do at the cemeteries?
- What does Day of the Dead actually celebrate?
- Why are there so many skeletons for Day of the Dead? If you still don’t know why, check out this explanation!
Hopefully by reading these books, you will be able to explain these to your friends and relatives! Do you have any favorite books about Día de los Muertos? Please share them in the comments!