Beginner Spanish Books for Middle and High Schoolers
Hello Spanish Learners! You are working so hard on mastering Spanish by taking classes, reading our blogs, and watching our YouTube videos – way to go! To be fluent in Spanish, you will need to understand through listening and reading as well as communicate by speaking and writing. You are almost there – keep working hard and expose yourself to Spanish every day! Whether it is through music, a podcast, noticias, telenovelas, speaking a tu mejor amiga or reading a terrific book!
Speaking of books, there are so many wonderful options to begin with! You will be so incredibly proud of yourself when you complete a proper book, cover to cover, en español!
Read below for tips on finding a book in Spanish that suits your needs:
Find a Topic That Interests You
We all have finite time during the day, so you will want to choose a book that appeals to you! Similar to reading in your native language, you will be more likely to start (and finish) a book that you enjoy on a subject/topic that holds your interest.
Choose a Book that is Not Too Long
You want to accomplish the task of finishing your first Spanish book! Begin with one that is a good length and not too overwhelming. Something you can easily fit into your school, sports, and homework schedule.
Find the ‘Just Right’ Book – One That is Challenging but Not Too Difficult
Remember when you read your first book in English around 1st grade? Chances are you picked up a book, flipped to a random page, read a few words and then decided if it was too easy or too difficult. Similar to Spanish, you want to find a good balance that is challenging, but not too easy. Using the Five Finger Rule helps you do just this:
- Choose your book and read a random page
- Hold up a finger for every word you don’t know
- If you have held up 5 fingers before finishing the page then the book is too difficult.
- Likewise, if you have held up only 1 finger, the book is too easy. You want to find the ‘just right’ book which is 2-4 fingers.
Finding your ‘just right’ book will encourage you to continue on with the story, challenge you just enough, and build your confidence!!
Choose Spanish and English ‘Side-by-Side’ Text
Have you ever read a paragraph in Spanish and you’re pretty sure you grasped the meaning, but there was that one word, or phrase, that left you questioning the meaning behind all the words? This happens to the best of us when reading in a new language. One way to self-check yourself is to read the Spanish text, and then verify you are on track with the English translation. Side-by-Side bilingual books are perfect for reading in Spanish and then testing your comprehension by reading the English section.
On a side note: I would recommend these text tools for your first few books, but then move on to books in Spanish only. You don’t want to rely on the translation and inhibit your immersion into the Spanish text.
Consider the Tense
Spanish is a complicated language with many tenses. If you are a beginner, then most likely you are most familiar with present, preterite and imperfect Spanish conjugations. Choose a book with this in mind!
Here are some great books to begin with:
Books with ‘Side-by-Side’ Translation in English and Spanish
- First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book – This book is less than 100 pages with 41 stories. Each story increases in difficulty – beginning with stories in the present tense, and building from there. The book also includes exercises in Spanish.
- Stories from Latin America/Historias de latinamérica – 16 short stories from Central and South American authors. It includes free audio downloads of four chapters from the book! Good for advanced beginners, it provides cultural insights and includes a helpful vocabulary list.
- Spanish Short Stories 1/ Cuentos hispánicos 1 and Spanish Short Stories 2/ Cuentos hispánicos 2 – Short stories from Spanish-speaking authors. Instead of translating word for word, the English translation paraphrases the Spanish portions thus translating ideas. The book is recommended for advanced beginners and beyond.
Beginner Books in Spanish
- Papelucho– The author has published 12 books in the Papelucho series that are described as humorous, interesting and creative. The book speaks about everyday life in the present tense.
- Manolito gafotas/Manolito Four-Eyes – Follow 10-year-old Manolito as he navigates life in Madrid. This is a children’s classic in Spain and other parts of Europe and has inspired films and a TV series.
- Las tres reinas magas – This book is a modern twist on Los Reyes Magos (The three Kings- Spanish Christmas Story). The queens are holding down the castle as the Kings are away at war.
- Muerte en Buenos Aires -Spanish novels for beginners. There are many in the series by this author and they are simple to understand with fun and interesting detective plots.
Get started today
There are so many books out there. Comment below and let us know which one is your favorite! Also, enjoy a free class on us and ¡empieza a mejorar tu español ya!
I began speaking Spanish at age 11 and have been interested in language and culture ever since! While at university, I studied abroad in Spain and Costa Rica and got a B.A. in Environmental Economics with a minor in Spanish. After spending over a decade in Corporate America, I now enjoy the simpler things in life.
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