Philadelphia’s Spanish Bookstore and Latin American Book Festival

Philadelphia will celebrate its fourth annual Latin American Book Festival this Friday as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. All-day free events at Love Park will include storytelling, author interviews, live music and plenty of activities for the kids.

The festival will also feature a huge selection of Spanish-language books – to read, talk about, buy or share. Philadelphia’s vibrant (and growing) Latino population often builds community around supporting Spanish-speaking authors: the city has a new bilingual small publishing house and a bookstore dedicated to Puerto Rican and Latin American literature.

Wondering where to find Spanish books year-round in Philadelphia? We’ve rounded up a few places, from small free libraries to free libraries, where you can achieve your Goodreads goals.

Did we miss a place?Send us your favorite bookstore with a Spanish section and we’ll add it it to the list.

Philipbros

South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia; times vary

These small free libraries were installed in 2020 to encourage more reading and solidarity among the Latin community in South Philadelphia. Now, a year and a half after the project started, the crates containing Spanish-language books are also making their way to some businesses in North Philadelphia.

One of 20 local businesses currently hosting huacalibreros — four in North Philly and 16 in South Philly — is filled with books that people can browse and borrow 24/7. Host institutions include restaurants such as Alma del Mar, Taquitos de Puebla and Tamalex restaurants, hair salons, Church of the Passion, Juntos and the Mexican Consulate Building.

According to one of its co-founders, Edgar Ramírez, Philibros has distributed 1,8000 books to date.

“Almost every day people write to me and tell me they’ve read another book, or thank us that we can give a book to their child, or call us to say they want to donate a book,” Ramiree said. S told Billy Penn.

Ramirez also said that while many people are donating books, the demand is so high that some huacalibreros are emptied within a week.

If you are considering a donation, anyone who would like to donate a book or volunteer can contact Philibros via Instagram or Facebook. The project also hosts a semi-regular reading club called Booktitlán, and a podcast of the same name that hosts local writers.

Courtesy Philipbros

Julia de Burgos bookstore in Taller Puertorriqueño

2600 N. 5th St.; Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This collection of Latin authors, Spanish-language books, and books about Latin America is a “hidden gem” — at least according to its manager, Lisa Moser.

According to Moser, the bookstore, located in Taller Puertorriqueño, the Fairhill Latine cultural center, currently houses about 400 Spanish-language books.

“Many people are discovering [us]. people spend a lot of time browsing,” says Moser. As far as she knows, Julia de Burgos is the only bookstore in the Philadelphia area that specializes in Spanish and bilingual books, as well as books by Latin authors and books about Latin America.

Although the storefront has been around for decades, the bookstore’s name was recently changed from Julia de Burgos Gift Shop to Julia de Burgos Bookshop. The store still sells works and books by local artists, but Moser said the name change underscores their mission as Latin booksellers in an area with few bookstores. To that end, residents of ZIP code 19133 receive a 20% discount on all items.

“Now that the name is ‘Bookstore,’ we’re definitely trying to expand. We’re getting new books almost every week,” Moser said. Right now, children’s books are the store’s most popular because they focus on culturally relevant topics that families can read together, she explained.

Julia de Burgos specializes in Puerto Rican literature, but has all Latin American cultures on the shelves. Moser attempts to regularly update the selection based on customer feedback.

Moser’s favorite books in the current rotation: “Mi lenguaje roto,” a Spanish translation of this year’s Philadelphia book anthology, “My Broken Language” by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Moser said Hudes and her mother pored over the translation to make sure it accurately reflected Hudes’ life experiences in her memoir growing up in a Puerto Rican family north of Philadelphia.

For more information on Julia de Burgos bookstore events, shows and the latest updates on their opening hours, you can follow them on Instagram or shop at their online store, where you can order and buy items for delivery or in-store pickup goods.

philibros-5
Courtesy Philipbros

Philadelphia Free Library

All of Philadelphia; times vary

Free libraries have always been a haven for book lovers, but in recent years the system has added resources aimed at Spanish-speaking readers.

According to statistics provided by Free Libraries, there are more than 7,400 Spanish-language books available for circulation in the library system.

For children’s Spanish books, the largest collection is in the Children’s Section at Parkway Central Library, and the second largest in the Northeast Regional Library, but other branches throughout the city also have sizable Spanish-language children’s sections. These collections include picture books and chapter books, as well as a large number of translations of popular titles, which can be found at:

  • South Philadelphia Library
  • Kensington Library
  • Lillian Marrero Library
  • Philadelphia City College
  • Macpherson Square Library
  • Great Olney Library
  • Charles Santor Library

For adults, the free library also offers plenty of Spanish titles, but the list of these branches looks a little different:

  • Northeastern Regional Library
  • Kensington Library
  • Lillian Marrero Library
  • Frankfurt Library
  • South Philadelphia Library
  • Great Olney Library
  • Charles Santor Library

Want to start browsing and checking out books and more? We have guidelines for obtaining and using library cards.

local Spanish publishing house

There are at least two local independent publishing houses in the greater Philadelphia area that specialize in Spanish-language books.

Antípoda was founded in the summer of 2020 by Puerto Rican journalist Joel Citrón Arbasetti and writer, translator and visual artist Heather Houde. So far, it has had few products, Arbasetti told Billy Penn: three books, including one in Spanish, one in English and one bilingual, but they plan to increase their selection with more experimental novels.

Syncretic Press is based in Wilmington, Delaware, just outside of Philadelphia, but already has a wider impact on the area. Founded by Enrique Morás, they publish children’s books by Spanish and Latin American authors, as well as translations of Spanish books. Morás also works with community groups and libraries in Philadelphia, such as Philibros, to connect Syncretic Press’ books with their target audience: children of Spanish-speaking parents and families interested in learning the language together.

To date, Syncretic has published over 30 books and has embarked on bilingual book tours, or extensive display of bilingual book pages in an outdoor setting. You can buy their books online by age group here.

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