6 Caribbean Children’s and YA Book Authors

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Mariela Santos Muñiz

Staff Writer

An avid reader and lover of words, Mariela Santos-Muniz currently works as a freelance journalist and writer. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she holds an M.A. from Boston University in International Relations and International Communications. While she learned a lot during her time in Boston and had some really cool experiences there, she's happy to now be back in warm Puerto Rico.

What do you know about the Caribbean? Do you know of any authors from the region? Or with roots there?

Maybe, maybe not.

Sometimes it seems like authors from other regions of the world get more recognition. For example, you might be able to name a handful of British authors without thinking about it too much. I’m not trying to downplay or doubt anyone’s achievements, but writers with ties to the Caribbean deserve to get their flowers too.

This is just the beginning – an introduction, if you will – for readers that aren’t acquainted with these five Caribbean children’s book authors.

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez has written children’s books, nonfiction books, and collections of poems. Many of her books explore immigration, culture, and center female characters. She is Dominican American.

Among her children’s books are How Tía Lola Ended Up Starting Over, De Cómo Tia Lola terminó empezando otra vez, and Return to Sender, Devolver al Remitente.

Alvarez also writes books for adults, which include: Afterlife, Más Allá; In the Time of Butterflies, En el Tiempo de las Mariposas; and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, De como las muchachas García perdieron el acento.

She has won many prizes during her career, and in 2013, President Obama awarded her a National Medal of Arts.

Tere Marichal-Lugo

A native of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, Tere Marichal-Lugo wears many hats. She’s a storyteller (contadora de cuentos), author, actress, and illustrator.

Animals and Taíno children are often the main characters in her stories. Some of her books are El jardín de las abejitas, El sol taíno, La Cucarachita Martina y el terrible huracán, y La vaca de Juan Gandules.

She was formerly known in Puerto Rico as Maria Chuzema, the main character of a televised show for kids.

Margarita Engle

The Cuban American author has won many prizes, such as the NSK Neustadt Prize, a Newberry Honor, Claudia Lewis Awards, and International Latino Book Awards, to name a few. A lot of her stories are in some way tied to Cuba and her heritage.

The Wild Book, Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, and Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics are some of her books.

Engle has also written a memoir, titled Enchanted Air: Two Cultures: Two Wings: A Memoir.

Kacen Callender

From St. Thomas (which is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands), Kacen Callender writes middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction.

Their book Felix Ever After is going to be adapted for television by Amazon Studios and Field Trip Productions, Deadline reports; the main character, Felix Love, is a “transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.”

In addition to Felix Ever After, other children’s books by Callender include This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story, Hurricane Child, and King and the Dragonflies. The latter won the author the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2020.

They have also written two books for adults, Queen of the Conquered and its second installment, King of the Rising.

Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Sister duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite are Miami natives, and the daughters of Haitian immigrants.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is their debut book. One of the Good Ones is their second.

The latter story follows sisters. There’s Kezi, who is killed after going to a social justice rally, and is considered “one of the good ones.” Not completely comfortable with how Kezi is being honored, Happi and Genny go on a trip that they’ll never forget.