10 Bilingual Spanish-English Books for Young Children
It began when I had my first baby over ten years ago. For every special occasion, family and friends would ask the question, “What should I get for her as a gift?”
For the first couple of years, I could get away with a no gifts rule, but eventually my children were old enough to know that special occasions meant PRESENTS!
I knew I needed a response that would both honor my childrens’ desire to be celebrated, and also would not fill our home with loud, plastic toys that lose their appeal within the first month.
This is how and why our family has accumulated hundreds of children’s books in the last decade.
Why Are Books the Best Gift?
I quickly realized the power of reading together as a tool for learning, and I wanted books that can stand the test of time, gender, and age.
Often, when presented with a formal learning activity or lesson, children may feel hesitant or resistant, as they don’t want to do more work. However, I’ve found that an invitation to simply read a book together feels organic, relaxed, bonding, and therefore, the perfect atmosphere to learn.
Learning a Second Language With Books
Sitting down to read a book with your child is nothing more than an invitation to share an experience, so why not turn that experience into a place to learn a second language?
My dad first started gifting bilingual Spanish-English books to my kids to encourage Spanish learning from a young age, with themes that included numbers, colors, foods, and common phrases suitable for little ones.
Children are naturally great at memorization, so re-reading those Spanish texts and vocabulary inside of books is a seamless way to get basic vocabulary and common phrases to stick. Even if you do not speak Spanish as a parent, children’s books are a non-intimidating way to begin learning with your child from a very young age.
Ultimate Tip for Teaching Spanish With Bilingual Books
Occasionally, children get frustrated when they can’t understand all the Spanish words in a story.
Often, I will read the entire story first, in English, and then follow it up a second time in Spanish. That way, the child is aware of the basic premise of the story, and can catch on to the meaning using the Spanish they do understand, as well as the pictures.
Additionally, it’s so beneficial for language mastery and comprehension to read stories (in any language!) multiple times. So after you finish reading a story and your toddler demands “Again! Again!” say yes and know that there are lasting benefits.
Top 10 Bilingual Spanish-English Books You’ll Love
There are many good bilingual books for children. Here are a few that our family loves and continues to reap the benefits from time and time again. I hope you enjoy them, too!
1. Besos for Baby: A Little Book of Kisses
A perfect first bilingual read-aloud board book! With both English and Spanish on each page, you will read and kiss your way through this story, while learning Spanish words like Mami, Papi, besos, perro, and gato. Full of easy-to-memorize vocabulary, it’s a joy to sit and read this book with any little one.
2. I Like it When… (Me gusta cuando…)
A book that any toddler and parent can relate to, this cute board book features a parent and child penguin talking about the things they enjoy doing together: me gusta cuando me coges de la mano, my gusta cuando me dejas ayudarte, and more! It introduces easy phrases that you and your toddler can repeat to each other while performing daily tasks, as well as some basic vocabulary like gracias and sorpresa!
3. Eating the Rainbow (Comiendo el arcoíris)
This book not only encourages picky eaters to try new foods at mealtime, but it also helps teach or review Spanish colors and foods in a bright, non-intimidating way.
4. Where is the Green Sheep? (¿Dónde está la oveja verde?)
Another fun board book that helps you learn and review Spanish colors and simple vocabulary while watching sheep do various activities (la oveja que se baña, la oveja está en la cama, esta oveja va en coche) before you find the green sheep on the last page. The repetitive nature of this one helps cement the vocabulary in your child’s mind!
5. My Name is Celia (Me llamo Celia)
A bilingual book that introduces readers to the life of Celia Cruz, a Cuban singer who grows up in Havana, then becomes famous when she leaves her home to pursue music, ultimately emerging as the queen of salsa music. When reading with your children, there is an opportunity to teach geography (Celia travels from Havana to New York City and Miami), Latin music culture, as well as Spanish on each page of the book.
6. Counting With Frida Kahlo (Contando con Frida Kahlo)
An easy way to practice counting to ten with your smallest child: una casa azul, dos pinceles, tres flores and more! With simple, colorful illustrations on each page, it also introduces you to the famous artist through images and colors.
7. Zapata: Colors (Colores)
Similar to the Frida Kahlo book, this bilingual board book uses images from the life of Emiliano Zapata, a leader in the Mexican Revolution, to teach you and your children colors in Spanish.
8. Too Many Tamales
While this charming story is not written in Spanish, it does feature a family who speaks bits of Spanish as they come together to make tamales for a Christmas meal, and lose a precious piece of jewelry while preparing the food. This book centers around the love of family and it’s a favorite in our household.
9. The Tortoise and the Hare (La tortuga y la liebre)
This bilingual and beautifully illustrated copy of the classic children’s story will intrigue readers of all ages as you root for the old, grandmotherly tortoise to win the race through the Sonoran Desert and beat the prideful jackrabbit. Texts like this are likely already familiar to your children and are a wonderful, non-intimidating way to present Spanish language through a well-known, beloved story.
10. This House is Made of Mud (Esta casa está hecha de lodo)
Another story about the beautiful Sonoran Desert, this bilingual book features a family who’s building their house of adobe. Poetic in nature, this story told from a child’s point of view captures the space and beauty of the desert landscape, while providing a beautiful way for readers to learn nature-related and earth vocabulary in Spanish.
Start Your Bilingual Book Collection Today!
So take a trip to your local library, or put a few of these bilingual books on your family book wish list, and enjoy sitting down with your children to learn and review simple uses of the Spanish language. Experience Spanish-speaking culture and enjoy colorful, beautiful artwork—all from the comfort of your own couch.
Want more free Spanish lessons, fun content, and easy learning strategies for kids? Check these out!
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- 10 Tips for When Homeschool Isn’t Working
- Is There Homeschooling in Latin America?
- 10 Productive Back-to-School Activities for Your Spanish Class
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I have been married for 14 years, and currently, I'm a stay-at-home mom who schools our four children, ages 10-2.
I love using everyday tools to teach, incorporating learning naturally into our daily rhythms, and bringing fun and connection to all our lessons!
- 10 Bilingual Spanish-English Books for Young Children - July 30, 2021