The most recommended Day of the Dead books

Who picked these books? Meet our 9 experts.

9 authors created a book list connected to Day of the Dead, and here are their favorite Day of the Dead books.
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Book cover of A Hidden Sicilian History

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Ettore Grillo is a retired criminal attorney from Enna, Sicily, who spends his time writing and traveling. This is the second edition of his first book. I am drawn to historical fiction and creative fiction writing. They are wonderfully entertaining ways to learn about cultures and history within the story’s setting and plot. Grillo teaches about life in Enna, Sicily including the feasts, the traditions, and the people who are held together by customs while trying to solve a family mystery. 

By Ettore Grillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Hidden Sicilian History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is there life after death? A Hidden Sicilian History: Second Edition presents an intriguing and easy-to-read historical novel that starts with the investigation of a mysterious death.

While doing research in the public library in Enna, Sicily, a young man notices an ancient scroll has drifted from a shelf onto the floor. It appears to have slipped from a gap between two volumes about the Spanish Inquisition.

Though he expects it to be related to life in Sicily at the time of Spanish rule, instead the handwritten scroll reports a singular drama that was performed on the stage of the…

Book cover of The Halloween Tree

Lisa Morton Author Of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

From my list on the history of Halloween.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid growing up in Southern California during the 1960s – what some now call “Golden Age of Trick or Treating” – I always loved Halloween, but I didn’t develop a real obsession with it until I wrote The Halloween Encyclopedia (first published in 2003). Since then, Halloween – once almost exclusively an American celebration – has achieved global popularity, and has created an entire cottage industry in haunted attractions. I remain fascinated by Halloween’s continuous expansion and evolution.

Lisa's book list on the history of Halloween

Lisa Morton Why did Lisa love this book?

A wonderful, beautiful book, written in Bradbury’s inimitable style. Not only is The Halloween Tree (first published in 1972) entertaining and superbly written, it also provides a crash course in Halloween history. It also served as the basis for a charming 1993 animated television movie. There are editions available from different illustrators, including Gris Grimly and Bradbury's longtime collaborator Joseph Mugnaini, but the gorgeous story will always be what's front and center here.

By Ray Bradbury, Joseph Mugnaini (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Halloween Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Make storytime a little spookier with fantasy master Ray Bradbury as he takes readers on a riveting trip though space and time to discover the true origins of Halloween.

Join the shadowy Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud as he takes eight trick-or-treaters on an unforgettable journey to find their missing friend, Pip. Travel through space and time, from the tombs of ancient Egypt to the gargoyles of Notre-Dame Cathedral, all the way to the cemeteries of Mexico on el Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Is Pip still alive? And if so, can his friends save him from a…

Book cover of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Author Of Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night

From my list on Halloween celebrations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved Halloween since I ran through the suburban streets of southern Connecticut with ears and a tail. For more than thirty years I’ve been researching and writing about the holiday, and each year I find something new. Most of all, I’m a Halloween advocate: At Halloween we can wrap our arms around the reality of the other 364 days and satirize, exorcize, and celebrate it. The joy of Halloween is not that it’s dark and we revel in that; it’s that Halloween can bring a bit of light and laughter into the darkness. And, of course, it’s big, creative, candy-fueled fun.

Lesley's book list on Halloween celebrations

Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Why did Lesley love this book?

Trick or Treat takes the history of Halloween and brings it into the 21st century. The book chronicles the holiday’s long history—distant and more recent, misconceptions and globalization—and offers up similar holiday stories as well, such as chapters on Dias de Los Muertos and All Saints Day celebrations. Looking for something to read or watch or listen to? Here you’ll find a chronicle of Halloween’s literature through 2012, as well as recent movies and music that capture the holiday’s culture in our world today.

By Lisa Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trick or Treat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trick or Treat is the first book to both examine the origins and history of Halloween and explore in depth its current global popularity. Festivals like the Celtic Samhain and Catholic All Souls' Day have blended to produce the modern Halloween, which has been reborn in America - but there are also related but independent holidays, especially Mexico's Day of the Dead. Lisa Morton explores the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions and the impact of events such as the global economic recession, as well as the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through literary works, films and television…

Book cover of Andy and the Mask of the Dead

Lisa Bournelis Author Of Louie and the Dictator

From my list on empowering kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lisa Bournelis is a transformation leader in healthcare, a new author, and TEDx speaker. Prior to this, she worked for the United Nations and NGOs in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Africa. Dealing with the unknown makes her passionate about promoting books that empower children to overcome anxiety. As a mom to a child with a mental health diagnosis, she wanted to help children by writing an uplifting novella based on her son’s experiences with OCD during the pandemic. Her aim is for anxious and neurodiverse kids to see themselves as heroes of their own stories. A portion of the royalties from her book will be donated to pediatric OCD research.

Lisa's book list on empowering kids

Lisa Bournelis Why did Lisa love this book?

This is a unique cultural exploration of how Halloween is celebrated as the ‘Day of the Dead.’ Until the movie Coco came out by Disney, I had no idea of the practices associated with ancestral remembrance. The story engenders curiosity in young readers through the protagonist who goes on a journey to follow a young girl as she explains this celebration through her culture’s lens. A fun read for children aged 3-5. Empowers children to explore cultural diversity with curiosity and without fear.

By Carolyn Watson Dubisch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Andy and the Mask of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Andy's off to a costume party. As he waits by the car, a mysterious girl with a skeleton mask appears with a special gift that opens his eyes to the phantasmic world of The Day of The Dead. Join Andy on his latest adventure! For children ages 0-3

Book cover of What Do You Celebrate?: Holidays and Festivals Around the World

Andrea Denish Author Of Everyone Loves a Parade!*

From my list on children’s books featuring festive parades.

Why am I passionate about this?

Parades are a truly happy place for people of all ages. The inspiration for Everyone Loves a Parade!* came from the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl Championship Parade - a spectacle the entire city enjoyed, drawing people with Philadelphia roots from all over. The communal nature of putting together a parade that carries on traditions and gives people a reason to share a celebration drove my interest in writing this book. The beautiful illustrations by Guilherme Franco bring the pages to life and allow readers to enjoy the wonder of parades from their living room couch - (where it’s much less messy).

Andrea's book list on children’s books featuring festive parades

Andrea Denish Why did Andrea love this book?

Holiday celebrations and festive parades go hand-in-hand. Learn about celebrations around the world including Carnaval in Brazil, Fastelavn in Denmark, Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, and many more. You’ll learn about special holiday traditions, foods, costumes and even find instructions to make crafts so you can enjoy the celebration at home.

By Whitney Stewart, Christiane Engel (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Do You Celebrate? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Holidays are FUN--and this entertaining nonfiction picture book introduces kids to 14 celebrations from around the world!

Across the globe, every country has its special holidays. From Brazilian carnival and Chinese New Year to France's Bastille Day and our very own Fourth of July, What Do You Celebrate? presents 14 special occasions where people dance, dress up, eat yummy foods, and enjoy other fun traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Kids can travel the globe and learn about Fastelavn, Purim, the Cherry Blossom Festival, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Guy Fawkes Day, the…

Book cover of A Dash of Trouble

Anna Staniszewski Author Of The Wonder of Wildflowers

From my list on middle-grade with a sprinkle of magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with books that mix the real world with a bit of magic. I remember devouring novels like A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan and The Secret Garden and imagining what I would do if my life suddenly became a tiny bit magical. When I became an author, it turned out those were also the sorts of stories I most loved telling. I think for me, the fun part is imagining what “everyday magic” would look like and what problems/opportunities it would create in an otherwise ordinary world.

Anna's book list on middle-grade with a sprinkle of magic

Anna Staniszewski Why did Anna love this book?

More magic and baking? What can I say, it really is a winning combination! Anna Meriano’s charming tale is about a girl who discovers that her family members are brujas—i.e. witches of Mexican ancestry—who infuse the foods in their bakery with magic. When the girl sets out to do magic of her own, what ensues is a heartwarming tale of hijinks, friendship, and family.

By Anna Meriano, Mirelle Ortega (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dash of Trouble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"A charming and delectably sweet debut. Mischief, friendship, and a whole lot of heart-Love Sugar Magic has it all." -Zoraida Cordova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series.

Leonora Logrono'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,…

Book cover of The Rising

Stacy Kingsley Author Of Zombies Are People Too!

From my list on zombies that stick with you and give you nightmares.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have read over 50 zombie novels and watched pretty much every zombie movie available to me. I write horror and a lot doesn’t really scare me anymore. The books I’ve listed are some of the ones that have stuck with me and gave me nightmares. My favorite zombie movies are the Norwegian film Dead Snow, Train to Busan, and REC (so scary as it added religion to the mix). I read a lot of zombie novels as research for my own zombie novels as I want my books to present new ideas that aren’t readily available, or overused.

Stacy's book list on zombies that stick with you and give you nightmares

Stacy Kingsley Why did Stacy love this book?

The Rising was one of the first zombie books I read after a while and it was interesting. It went beyond what people expected or thought they wanted from zombie novels. It was less Night of the Living Dead and more Day of the Dead with killing, and mutilations, and suspenseful expectations that no one really thought could be met. 

By Brian Keene,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic that helped start a pop culture phenomenon - back in print and UNCUT!

Since it's 2003 debut, Brian Keene's THE RISING is one of the best-selling zombie novels of all-time. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, inspired the works of other authors and filmmakers, and has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans.

THE RISING is the story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering…

Book cover of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico

Jennifer Silva Redmond Author Of Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat

From my list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on Southern California beaches—Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla—but first experienced Baja as an adult. It was like a different world. Returning repeatedly over the next decade, I came to know the stunning shorelines and quiet bays of the peninsula’s midriff as intimately as my home state’s beaches. Swimming and diving Baja’s clear blue waters and hiking its dusty trails and palm-studded mountains, I have admired the many moods of this unique desert peninsula. A writer and editor, I have read extensively from the vast selection of books about Baja, both new and classic works.

Jennifer's book list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there

Jennifer Silva Redmond Why did Jennifer love this book?

I love how this author's modern-day experiences blend with her well-researched history, and I was intrigued by how she brought in a big serving of cultural heritage, giving readers tasty anecdotes about the eclectic people who shaped Baja and who still do—from a daring pilot to an artist far from home.

Like me, C.M. Mayo is a child of blended race whose desire to comprehend her Mexican heritage and experience her Mexican-ness seems to drive a large part of her travels.

I could relate to her instant love of the peninsula but was thrilled by her journalistic delving into the modern dichotomies of this “other Mexico” like the celebrating of the Day of the Dead beside the cheap commercialization of Halloween.

By C. M. Mayo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miraculous Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Baja California is a place where nothing is as it seems. Cleaved from the Mexican mainland by the Sea of Cortes and separated from the rest of North America by a multitude of cultural and economic differences, the nearly one-thousand-mile-long peninsula is scarred by imperial transgressions yet blessed with extraordinary natural beauty. "The very air here is miraculous," wrote John Steinbeck, "and outlines of reality change with the moment."

It was desire that first took C.M. Mayo to Baja California, but only a longing for understanding could produce this exquisite portrait of "the Other Mexico." As mindful of the peninsula's…