One of the biggest differences between our library in Arizona and our library here in North Carolina is the selection of Spanish picture books. In addition to having fewer Spanish books than our libraries in the Southwest, most of the books our local library does have are translations of books originally written in English. I love Harold and the Purple Crayon in any language, but books are just better the original. After months of raiding the bookshelves of my bilingual friends, consulting the all-knowing internet, and scouring bookstores and libraries, I finally have a fat stack of delightful Spanish children’s books to share. I’m starting today with 5 board books (including one multilingual book) for the littlest readers.
Reading bilingual books to babies is a stress-free affair. There’s no one around to judge pronunciation or ask me to “just read one in English please.” I also love using board books when I’m teaching Spanish to my older children. The repetitive structure and focus on everyday vocabulary make board books a great resource for new language learners of any age. My third grader is more willing to read out loud in Spanish when the book is short and simple.
How Gator Says Goodbye! by Abigail Samoun and Sarah Watts is the first of the Little Traveler series (all of which are great). The book follows Gator around the world as he says goodbye in eight different languages. Each page includes a cheerful illustration of the country Gator visits and a pronunciation guide, which came in handy since I don’t know anything about Russian.
Besos for Baby: A Little Book of Kisses by Jen Arena and Blanca Gomez is a sweet book about all the people and pets that love to give kisses. Most of the text is in English, so this is a great place for anyone just starting out. My brother and sister-in-law have raised their girls speaking Spanish at home, and this would have been a perfect book for my own mother years ago when she was trying to find ways to connect with her granddaughters in a language she doesn’t speak. Of all the Spanish board books we’ve read, this is my toddler’s favorite.
Counting with Frida by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein is one of an entire series of bilingual board books from Lil’ Libros. All of the books are bright and cheerful, plus I really like that they teach first colors and words using important Latin American historical figures and traditions. There are so many great options in addition to Counting with Frida, but I’m especially eager to get my hand on Lotería: First Words and La Llorona: Counting Down because they remind me of my childhood in Southern Arizona.
El Libro Verde/The Green Book by Alejandro Longo is exactly what it sounds like: a book of all things green. Colors are some of the very first Spanish words I teach my children (thanks in part to their eternal love for this video), and we use this book (and the others in the series) as a springboard for talking about all the colores around our own house.
Los Opuestoros by Sebastián García Schnetzer is my very favorite book on this list. It was published in Spain, so the text and the illustrations are more Spanish (as in the country, not the language) than the others. Each page features two bulls (in homage to the Cave of Altimira and Spanish bullfighting, for starters) drawn as opposites. The illustrations are so creative. For example, the diurnal and nocturnal bulls are drawn as a bull in the sunshine and the Taurus constellation. If you’re looking to purchase your own copy, check the listing carefully. Some versions of the book are just in Spanish and others have the English translations are well. (The book with English translations has the subtitle “Oppbullsites.” Har har har.) I snagged a copy on Amazon for just a couple cents before shipping, although the price seems to vary quite a bit from week to week.
One of my best friends is expecting her first baby this winter. You can bet quite a few of these books will be making their way to her when I put together her shower present. (Sorry to spoil the surprise, Katie.) Are there any others I should look for as I’m shopping for her little niño? I would especially love to hear about any books published outside the US. I can generally find them online, but only if I already know the title or author.