Last month, I shared 5 of our favorite Spanish board books. As promised, I’m back today with some longer bilingual books we love. Some of these are long-time favorites and others are recent discoveries, but all of them speak to my Spanish-loving heart. I’ve divided them up by how much Spanish familiarity they require (from brand new learners to fluent readers). I was still years away from having children when I was traveling in Spain and taking university Spanish classes, so all of these books are ones I’ve found at my local libraries in my eight years as a parent. As always, I would love to hear about any other titles or authors we should be reading.
The first four picture books are written mostly in English. The intermittent Spanish words are explained by context and illustrations, as well as in the glossaries. Most of these books also use rhyme to help readers unfamiliar with Spanish pronunciation figure out what each word sounds like:
Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey C. Kyle and Carolina Farías is one of our favorites. When I first found the Lu & Bean podcast, I was delighted to listen to their interview with the author and to hear that they love the book as well. Because of this book, my picky eater requested a bowl of gazpacho for dinner. He didn’t love it, but I counted the whole experience as a success anyway.
Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World by Jacqueline Ogburn and Chris Raschka is a sweet collection of terms of endearment from around the world. Fourteen languages are represented in all, including a collection of English from around the world. Whenever we read this book, I find myself wanting to call my children poppet and lambchop.
Green Is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra is a stunning book of colors that follows a family’s preparations for Dia de los Muertos. The same duo also produced Round is a Tortilla, but I love the original best.
Say Hola to Spanish by Susan Middleton Elya and Loretta Lopez incorporates over 70 Spanish vocabulary words in a catchy poem that is easy to read and understand. I first read this one when my mom bought it for her elementary school classroom, and I remember thinking the rhyme was a much easier way to learn how to say new words than traditional pronunciation symbols.
The next five books are entirely in Spanish, so some familiarity with the language is required. It might not actually make much difference to my children that these books are not translations of English picture books (seeing as they only know a handful of words at this point anyway), but it matters to me.
Aurora, Brigida y Carlos by Gloria Fuertes and Jan Pienkowski is an ABC book where each letter is represented by a child’s name and a simple poem. My children’s favorite part is all of the names. Some are familiar, some are similar to names they know in English, and some are delightfully unusual to their little ears.
El Toro Pinto and Other Songs in Spanish by Anne Rockwell. There are so many great videos of Spanish songs online these days that a book of songs might seem like more work than it’s worth. If you have a piano or keyboard at your house, however, you might enjoy this book as much as we did. The songs are short, the melodies are simple, and the illustrations are charming.
Refranes: Al mal tiempo, buena cara by Alejandra Longo and Daniel Chaskielberg has been more fun for me than for anyone else. Idioms and jokes are two things I’m still trying to learn in Spanish, and I’ve been enjoying these short expressions and explanations. For example, isn’t “la mentira tiene patas cortas” much more fun than warning that lies will always be discovered sooner or later?
Los Tres Pequeños Jabalíes/The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell and Jim Harris is a retelling of The Three Little Pigs set in the Sonoran desert. I grew up in the Sonoran desert, so this book was readily available when I was a child. I was happy to find a copy all the way out here in North Carolina as well. The book has a complete English translation on each page, so I considered listing it with the part-English books. In the end, I’ve placed it here because of the richness of the Spanish. I had to stop more than once while I was reading it to my children to appreciate the phrasing and word choice on the Spanish side of the page. Buyer beware: The Reading Rainbow version of this book does not include the Spanish text.
Fabulas para toda la vida from Conaprole is a set of illustrated fables a good friend brought my children from Uruguay. I haven’t found a great place to get them online, but this looks like a version of the set we own. As with the refranes, we all get a kick out of the moraleja at the end and comparing the fables to any we already know.
Last week, a friend shared this list of bilingual picture books with me. I’m so happy to have some new titles to investigate. Please let me know if you have any favorites we can read!