Hispana and ProudMulticultural Vida

How Elena of Avalor is Teaching My Son About Latino Culture

“Mama quiero tres leches.” Upon hearing these words, I was startled. He had never asked for tres leches cake before, and had never taken an interest in it despite the fact that his abuela makes a delicious one. I replied “Where did you hear about tres leches?” and he said “Elena of Avalor.”

I couldn’t help but smile.

To be honest, being the mom of a boy, I didn’t have a lot of expectations about Elena of Avalor. I didn’t know if the show would engage him (It has) and I wasn’t sure if he’d be interested in a show about a 16 year old princess (he is).

I love that the show’s messages are positive ones. One day he said to me “Elena is a leader and she can fight.” I was so happy by his thoughts. Yes, my son, girls CAN be leaders!


Being a third generation Latino kid, my son’s experience will be different than my own growing up. First, since we are a multicultural family (his dad is French) and our home is not permeated with television in Spanish 24/7 (as it was when I was growing up); it’s much harder to keep language and culture alive, though we do speak Spanish every day. It’s also different because growing up for me, I very much felt Ecuadorian, and I knew the customs and traditions. For my son, I think he will grow up to be more aware of the many other different nationalities that fall under the “Latino/Hispanic” umbrella and will learn to appreciate them from early on. I can’t remember being surrounded by elements of other nationalities when I was 5 years old, I think that awareness came much later (perhaps in my teens).

Elena has introduced my son to different elements of Latino culture– different types of food and different cultural holidays and customs for example. My son talks about “El Día de los Muertos” simply because he saw it on Elena of Avalor. He asked about eating tamales, when we have never eaten tamales at home. He also got super excited one day when he saw the Elena of Avalor song on the Disney Channel in Spanish!

There are other ways Elena has taught and reinforced elements of Latino culture for my son. Elena has a strong bond with her abuelos, her grandparents, which my son can identify with since we live in the same home and they are very much a part of his life. There are Spanish words mixed in with the English, and while we speak Spanish at home, my son does do quite a bit of Spanglish.

Disney has done something extraordinary: it has put Latino culture front and center. It has made little girls of all ages want to be Elena. It has put Spanish and Latino culture on television. For me as a Latina woman, Elena warms my heart… I never saw any cartoon speaking in Spanish while I was growing up… I never heard merengue songs or mariachi bands on television when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong… I love other Disney princesses but I had never seen part of me on the screen and that is exactly what Elena has done. This warms the hearts of so many Latinas and Latina moms who are working hard to keep their culture alive.


Elena of Avalor has made Latino culture be part of the homes of millions of children all over our country. It is introducing Latino culture to those who aren’t familiar with it. It is also teaching children that girls can be great leaders and about the importance of family.

I can’t wait to see what else is in store of Elena of Avalor!

Check out the Elena of Avalor Leadership Guide, a collaboration between the Disney Channel and The Girl Scouts!


Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.


  1. OMG, I don’t know how I missed this one when I’m even on the post! I love that your son has identify with Elena of Avalor. As a mom of a little girl, I’ve enjoyed so much seeing my daughter fall in love with this character. This year her birthday theme was Elena of Avalor and her choice of Halloween costume. Last year we had a Frozen birthday, so having the duality of her loving a Disney princess that is also a Latina is a big plus. Representation is so important, not only for our children as minority, but for all American kids to grow and see how beautifully diverse our country is. Thank you!

  2. Hola! I Hope you’re doing well! I loved reading about your son learning about Latina culture from Elena of Avalor! Elena means a lot to me as well. Over the past year and a half, she’s helped me navigate the path to healing from medical trauma. She’s also made me laugh and helped restore my self confidence through her powerful music and authentic personality. Growing up as a Latina, I didn’t have a princess who shared my familia’s traditions or spoke my language. I loved and learned a lot from Jasmine and Ariel, but there was still a yearning in my heart for a princess I could fully relate to. Fast forward to July 22, 2016. Enter Elena Kasstio Florez. A princess who not only shares a lot of my familia’s traditions, she also speaks Spanish and embraces her heritage wholeheartedly. She has a strong sense of familia and what’s right. She also thinks of her kingdom as an extention of her familia, which is awesome! In the year that followed, Elena taught me more about myself and what it means to be strong, overcome fears and coming as I was than any other princess Disney ever created, with the exception of Jasmine. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about her. Elena is compassionate, kind, bold, brave and adventurous. Plus, she can fight her own battles. She doesn’t need a man to save her! She does the saving herself! She’s also relatable. She makes mistakes, wrong decisions and acts before thinking. But in doing those normal things, she also grows and learns from her mistakes to become a person and eventually a ruler we can all learn from. One of my favorite aspects of the show is Elena’s bond with her little sister, Isabel, Isa, as Elena affectionately calls her. I love how both sisters are there for each other, no matter what. Another aspect of the show I love is the music! I find myself humming Elena’s songs or just outright singing them every day. The two songs that have helped me the most are The Magic Within You and Let Love Light the Way. The Magic Within You has helped me deal with trauma recovery and PTSD. As for Let Love Light the Way, it reminds me how we should treat one another every day. Elena has helped me find the self confidence I Thought I had lost due to medical trauma. She’s definitely been a blessing in my life.

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