Celebrating the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)

Published 1:08 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead in English, is a holiday traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2. It is widely observed in Mexico and involves family and friends gathering to pay respects and remember friends and family members who have died. These celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. Traditions connected with the holiday include honoring the deceased using calaveras and marigold flowers known as cempazúchitl, building home altars called ofrendas with the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these items as gifts for the deceased. Introduce your children to Dia de los Muertos through these books!


Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh

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The story of how the amusing calaveras–skeletons performing various everyday or festive activities–came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada. In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he first drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons throughout much of his life, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos festival. Juxtaposing his own art with that of Lupe’s, author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.


Skeletown: Sí. ¡No! by Rhode Montijo

Say “¡si!” to a fresh, funny, Spanish-forward picture book series set in Skeletown—a cheerful, vibrant world filled with Dí​a de los Muertos-inspired characters! Spend the day with Skully and Skelly as they learn what to say “yes” and “no” to! With the clever use of just two words—sí and no—throughout the whole book, a sequence of hilarious gags leads to mischief, chaos, and ultimately friendships soaring to new heights! With dynamic, neon art that pops off the pages, a completely unique approach to storytelling, and a wildly appealing (but not scary!) cast of calavera characters from the fantastical world of Skeletown, this is a rambunctious romp that will inspire giggles with Spanish and English readers alike!


Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival. Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration… But, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas–witches of Mexican ancestry–who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.


Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Thong

Día de los Muertos is here! Altars are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds. Tamales and sweets are ready to eat. Soon it will be time for picnics, music, and a costume parade! Come join in these joyful and vibrant festivities that are a tradition in Mexico and throughout Latin America.


Celebrate the Day of the Dead by Diane De Anda

Introducing little ones to the Day of the Dead, this vibrant board book follows siblings Cristina and Carlos as they prepare for the celebration with their family.


Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit polklibrary.org or call (828) 894-8721.