Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Creation Stories from Latin America

Latin America is a diverse region of the world, and this great mix of cultures, people, and geography leads to great stories and cultural tales. This first post highlights some of my favorite creation stories from this part of the world. The next two posts highlight favorite trickster tales and tall tales.

The Golden Flower: a Taino myth from Puerto Rico (2005) by Nina Jaffe and illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez. This version of the creation myth for the island of Puerto Rico begins with a desert and a young boy who plants the mysterious seeds that he finds. Only after these seeds grow and one produces an enormous pumpkin, do problems follow. Two men, fighting over the pumpkin, release the sea that was held inside, flooding the desert, and leaving behind just the top of the mountain as the island of Boriquén.

How the Sea Began: a Taino myth retold and illustrated by George Crespo. Another Taino story from Puerto Rico. In this version it is a group of young boys who accidentally release the sea the covers the land and leaves behind the island of Boriquén.

How We Came to the Fifth World / Cómo vinimos al quinto mundo (1988) adapted by Harriet Rohmer and Mary Anchondo and illustrated by Graciela Carrillo. This bilingual tale is a retelling of the classic Aztec creation myth about how humanity came into the fifth (and current) world and what happened to the previous four worlds.

The Two Mountains: an Aztec legend (2000) retold by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher. This legend comes from the Nahua people, descendants of the Aztec, and tells the origin of the two great mountains in the Valley of Mexico, which were once a son of the sun and a daughter of the moon.

The Gentle People (from Tales Alive! Ten multicultural folktales) This story from the Patagonia region of Argentina tells of the origins of the guanaco.

The Llama's Secret: a Peruvian legend (1993) adapted by Argentina Palacios and illustrated by Charles Reasoner. This ancient tale from Peru is a flood story. The farmer is warned by his llama about an impending flood, so he, his family, and the llama hike to the top of the great mountain, Huillcacoto. Along the way they warn two of many kinds of animals who accompany them and are spared from the flood. An author's note at the end explains the cultural significance of the llama and draws connections to other well-known flood stories.

The Princess and the Warrior: a tale of two volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh. This classic legend from ancient Mexico has roots in the Aztec and Tlaxcalan cultures, and Duncan has also included a connection to the Mixtec codices which inspired his signature artistic style. Rather than a creation-of-the-world story, this is the origin story of two mountains. The artwork is incredible, and the story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. This is a wonderful addition to any classroom or library and definitely one I will be talking about come Caldecott time! For more about Duncan Tonatiuh, please read Featured Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh, part 1: fictional stories and part 2: biographies.

Do you have other favorite creation stories from Latin America? Please share them in the comments below!


  1. These all look wonderful! I've read quite a few children's books about Latin America but I'm not familiar with any of these stories. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh, I'm always looking for books set in other countries. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a great collection! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop! :-)

  4. I really like these covers. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a wonderful selection. I love the cover for The Golden Flower. Thank you for sharing these on the hop!


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