BOOK CLUB KIT: Too Many Tamales

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Created by: Marilyn Reyes Ayala

Too Many Tamales-Marilyn Reyes Ayala
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Too Many Tamales

Written by Gary Soto

Illustrated by Ed Martinez

Maria gets to help make tamales for this year’s dinner on Christmas Eve! There’s only one problem. After Maria tries on her mother’s wedding ring, the ring gets lost! Too Many Tamales follows Maria and her cousins as they try to find the ring before anyone else does.


Available as an Audiobook at

Spanish Read Aloud

Too Many Tamales

Tamales were a staple dish for any special event when I was growing up in a Mexican family. And on Christmas, it was guaranteed someone in the family would be making tamales for everyone to enjoy. When we found Too Many Tamales at the library, it immediately became one of our favorites. We would read this book year-round, never growing tired of a story we could connect with so easily.

Written by Gary Soto and illustrated by Ed Martinez, Too Many Tamales tells the story of a wedding ring, masa, which is used while preparing tamales, and a group of cousins doing everything they can to avoid getting in trouble!

My sisters and I were raised in a Spanish speaking home—there would be no way for us to communicate with our parents if we didn’t speak Spanish. Too Many Tamales provides an opportunity to connect in both English and Spanish. This book portrays a Christmas tradition in the style of many Latinx families, as well as the inclusion of extended families.

Discussion Questions

  • Maria and her family are celebrating Christmas. Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, is there another holiday you celebrate in the winter? If you do celebrate Christmas, how do you celebrate with your family?

  • Have you tried eating or making tamales? Would you like to? What foods do you like to eat on special days?

  • Maria’s cousins help her look for her mother’s ring in this book. Do you have any cousins? If so, are there many of them or only a few? Who makes up your family?

  • Have you ever lost something important? Did you ask for help? What did you lose, and what was it like trying to find it?

Relevant Identity & Diversity Standards for Grades K-2

  • Identity Standard 5: I see that the way my family and I do things is both the same as and different from how other people do things, and I am interested in both.

  • Diversity Standard 7: I can describe some ways that I am similar to and different from people who share my identities and those who have other identities.

  • Diversity Standard 8: I want to know about other people and how our lives and experiences are the same and different.

  • Diversity Standard 10: I find it interesting that groups of people believe different things and live their daily lives in different ways.

Resources to Extend the Learning

  • Sesame Street: Mi Amiguita Rosita This video shows Rosita singing about her Mexican heritage while surrounded by her friends on Sesame Street. Together, they sing the chorus in Spanish, and Rosita continues to sing about her heritage using Spanish and English words and phrases.

  • Tamales from My Ranch to Your Kitchen Doña Ángela is widely popular for her videos which are set in a kitchen that reminds many of where they grew up. Turn on English CC if needed, and see what it’s like to make tamales in an authentic Mexican setting.

  • Pork Tamales Rojos This is a written recipe from Bon Appétit senior editor Rick Martinez. Scroll to the bottom of the recipe if you’d like to watch Rick make the tamales himself, and follow along!

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