Spanish-language bookstores in Philadelphia and the Latin American Book Festival

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Philly is celebrating its fourth annual Latin American Book Festival this Friday. The free, all-day event at Love Park includes storytelling, author interviews, live music and lots of activities for little ones.

The festival will also feature many Spanish language books to read, talk about, buy or share. Philly’s vibrant (and growing) Latin American population often builds a community that supports Spanish-language authors: the city is home to a new bilingual small publishing house, as well as a bookstore dedicated to Puerto Rican and Latin American literature.

Curious about where to find Spanish language books year-round in Philadelphia? We’ve rounded up several places, from small free libraries to the free library, where you can achieve these Goodreads goals.

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


South Philly and North Philly; hours vary

These small free libraries were installed in 2020 to encourage more reading and solidarity among South Philly’s Latino communities. Now, a year and a half after the project started, these wooden crates of Spanish language books have also found their way to some businesses in North Philly.

There are currently 20 local businesses that house one of the huacalibreros – four in North Philly, 16 in South Philly – which are stocked with books for people to browse and borrow 24/7. Hospitality features include restaurants such as Alma del Mar, Taquitos de Puebla and Tamalex Restaurant, a hair salon, the Church of the Crucifixion, Juntos and the Mexican Consulate building.

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

“Almost every day someone texts me to say they’ve read a different book, or to thank us for giving books to their children, or to call us to say they’d like to donate a book ‘ Ramírez said to Billy Penn.

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Ramírez 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 interested in donating books or volunteering can contact Philibros via Instagram or Facebook. The project also hosts a biannual reading club called Booktitlán and a eponymous podcast featuring local authors.

Courtesy of Philibros

Bookstore Julia de Burgos in Taller Puertorriqueño

2600 N. 5th St.; 10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday

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.

The bookstore is located in Fairhill Latine’s Taller Puertorriqueño cultural center and currently houses around 400 Spanish-language books, per Moser.

“A lot of people are surprised when they find it [us]. People will come and spend a lot of time just browsing,” Moser said. To her knowledge, Julia de Burgos is the only bookstore in the Philadelphia area that specializes in Spanish, bilingual, Latin American, and Latin American books.

Although the storefront has been around for decades, the bookshop’s name has recently changed from Julia de Burgos Gift Shop to Julia de Burgos Bookstore. The store still sells work by local artists alongside the books, but Moser said the name change underscores their mission as a Latin American bookseller in an area that doesn’t have many bookstores, period. To that end, residents of the 19133 ZIP Code will receive a 20% discount on all items.

“Now that the name is ‘bookstore’ we’re definitely trying to expand further. We get new books almost every week,” Moser said. Children’s books are the most popular right now, she explained, because they focus on culturally relevant topics that families can read about together.

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

Moser’s favorite book in the current rotation: Mi lenguaje roto, the Spanish translation of this year’s One Book One Philadelphia selection, Quiara Alegría Hudes’ My Broken Language. Moser said Hudes and her mother pored over the translation to ensure it accurately reflected the lived experiences Hudes recounts in her memoir about growing up in a Puerto Rican family in North Philadelphia.

For more information on the events, programs and latest updates on the opening hours of the Julia de Burgos bookshop, you can follow his Instagram profile or shop on his online store where you can order and buy items for delivery or collection in store.

Courtesy of Philibros

Philadelphia Free Library

All over Philadelphia; hours vary

The Free Library has always been a haven for book lovers, but in recent years the system has expanded its resources when it comes to appealing to Spanish-speaking readers.

According to statistics from the Free Library, there are over 7,400 Spanish-language books available to borrow from the library system.

The largest collection of Spanish-language children’s books is in the children’s section of Parkway Central Library and the second-largest is in the Northeast Regional Library, but other branches around the city also have sizeable Spanish-language children’s sections. These collections include picture and chapter books with numerous translations of popular titles and can be found at:

  • Library of South Philadelphia
  • Kensington Library
  • Lillian Marrero Library
  • Philadelphia City Institute
  • McPherson Square Library
  • Greater Olney Library
  • Charles Santore Library
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For adults, the Freie Bibliothek also has a considerable amount of Spanish-language titles, but the list of these branches looks a little different:

  • Northeast Regional Library
  • Kensington Library
  • Lillian Marrero Library
  • Frankfurt library
  • Library of South Philadelphia
  • Greater Olney Library
  • Charles Santore Library

Want to start browsing and checking out books and more? We have a guide on how to get – and use – a library card.

Local Spanish language publishers

There are at least two local, independent publishers in the Greater Philadelphia area that focus on Spanish-language books.

Antipoda was co-founded in Summer 2020 by Puerto Rican journalist Joel Cintrón Arbasetti and writer, translator and visual artist Heather Houde. So far, offerings are small, Arbasetti told Billy Penn: three books, including one in Spanish, one in English and one bilingual, but they plan to expand their selection with more experimental fiction.

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

To date, Syncretic has published over 30 titles and launched Bilingual Book Walks, or large outdoor exhibitions of pages from bilingual books. You can buy her books online by age group here.

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