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!
The early elementary years, with such a heavy focus on reading and writing, act as the foundation of your child’s literacy process. During this fertile time of learning, parents can take advantage of the explosion of growth and add another language to the mix! Spanish joins the ranks of the most important languages of the 21st century and is considered to be the easiest language for English speakers to learn. Why not add Spanish to your child’s language abilities? By teaching your child to read and write in English and Spanish, you give the gift of biliteracy. Biliteracy, or the ability to read and write in two languages, will enhance your child’s cognitive function, increase their multi-cultural awareness, and even give them a head start toward success as an adult. Who wouldn’t want that for their child? It may seem intimidating at first to imagine teaching your child to read in Spanish, but with an armful of entertaining Spanish children’s books and the will to use language teaching strategies, you can absolutely do this!
Our list of Spanish books is directed toward children in grades 1-3 who have some Spanish phonological awareness and have been exposed to the Spanish alphabet. Here is a list of 10 engaging and fun books to jump-start the journey to biliteracy!
10 Spanish Books for Grades 1-3
- Abuela – Arthur Dorros
This is a sweet and heartfelt story about how a young girl named Rosalba experiences her favorite times with her grandmother. Together in a dream-like fantasy, they fly over New York City, visiting places that remind her of her grandma’s arrival to the United States. The English version with Spanish phrases showcases isolated Spanish words and is great for picking up new vocabulary around love and family. The Spanish Only version is perfect for readers who understand a bit more than basic Spanish.
- Hairs/Pelitos – Sandra Cisneros
Although this book is more than 20 years old, its excellent core message remains more relevant than ever. A story about the importance of diversity, each page explores the different colors and textures in hairstyles worn by members of families from various backgrounds. It is a story about family, celebrating the differences found within and praising the blessings that it brings. The author alternates between English and Spanish, using both languages expertly to create fun imagery. This book will teach your child how to use analogies in Spanish, such as, “hair like a broom,” “hair like fur,” and “hair like candy.”
- Los vestidos de mamá – Monica Carretero
An imaginative love story between a girl and her mother shows through her mother’s colorful dresses the fantastical adventures they inspire in the girl’s mind. She visits an underwater home of mermaids, the crescent moon in a starry night sky, and a blossoming meadow on a hill, among other magical places. It’s a wonderful book to learn plenty of useful present tense verbs. It even comes with activities at the end, including making paper dolls and a few pages of white dresses that can be colored to suit your child’s imagination.
- Dragones y tacos – Adam Rubin
Two seemingly unrelated things combine to make this book silly and loads of fun: dragons and tacos. Did you know that tacos are a dragon’s favorite food? You and your child will surely love learning all about it. Learn food vocabulary (especially types of tacos and salsas!) and how to discuss what dragon’s like. Your child will be mesmerized by the watercolors and colored pencil illustrations that capture the imagination.
- El caballero que no tenía caballo – JS Pinillos
Your child will love this funny little story about a knight who wishes to rescue a princess, but he doesn’t have a horse! Naturally, he decides he needs a horse in order to save the princess from the scary dragon. So, he goes to the market to look for the best horse he can find. To his dismay, each horse he approaches rejects him for a silly reason. The repetitive language between the knight and the horses makes it very easy for the young reader to join in and start using these Spanish phrases. Enjoy the funny pictures and amusing, non-traditional “prince to the rescue” story.
- Oso quiere volar – Susana Isern
With a life lesson that encourages readers to follow their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem, this book is perfect for inspiring young minds. It shows how a neighborhood of forest animals makes a big fuss out of the bear’s dream to fly. Each has an opinion about how his dream certainly cannot come true. Will bear prove them wrong? This story won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, which celebrates books that honor the joys and challenges of childhood. The Spanish Only version is more suited for children who know basic Spanish.
- La sombrerería mágica – Sonja Wimmer
One day, a mysterious hat shop appears in the middle of a small town. The inhabitants are mystified and curious about the hats. One by one, they try on a hat only to find something very strange and intriguing happen! A story about self-esteem, authenticity, and being true to oneself, this book is a must-have for every young person growing into their uniqueness. While enhancing your child’s Spanish vocabulary, you can also teach them to treasure all the ways they are special and one-of-a-kind.
- La gallina cocorina – Mar Pavon
What’s worse than a bad rumor? Being the target of it, of course! Follow Clucky (“Cocorina”), the loving yet forgetful mother-hen, and her baby chicks as they explore their unconditional love for one another in the face of hurtful gossip. The story shares a very powerful lesson on how talking negatively about others is painful and unnecessary. It’s a lesson that every young child must learn, and doing so with Clucky and her chicks will be sure to stick in their memory.
- Margarito – Carmen Gil
This story is full of emotion and descriptive words that are great for Spanish readers. Margarito is a beloved donkey who comes to live on a farm at a young age and grows old there. Over time, he loses strength, agility, and even his hearing. While he may have lost many characteristics, he gains the wisdom to help all the other animals on the farm learn to get along with one another. The lesson of this well-illustrated book reminds us that we must love and respect our elders, knowing that they hold valuable knowledge that they can teach the younger generations.
- Ayobami y el nombre de los animales – Pilar Lopez Avila
This story will give your little one direct insight into the importance of literacy. Meet Ayobami, a young African girl who dreams of going to school. When the war ends, she can finally fulfill her dream. However, to get to the schoolhouse, she must take the dangerous path through the jungle. With only paper and a worn pencil, Ayobami sets out to achieve her dream to learn to read and write. This is a story about the importance of education and the challenges that many children face in going to school.
The Blessing of Biliteracy
Although there are multiple proven paths to a child’s biliteracy, it is certain that reading Spanish books at home is one of them. By setting aside a time each night where you and your child take part in reading these lovely, lesson-filled stories that enliven the mind and delight the senses, you will make learning fun. Your child’s journey to bilingualism and biliteracy starts at home and can be expanded into taking an online class where they can practice with a native Spanish speaker. Be sure to gather a diverse set of resources found on this blog to help foster a love for reading Spanish books and to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. ¡Que lo disfruten!Read More
“Yo hablo español!” are three precious words we want our child to say, and what’s more – to mean. Given the amount of language tools and resources for Spanish that never seem to end, the road to Spanish fluency can seem long and paved with obstacles. Fear not! One of the most powerful tools you have is also one of the most fun: reading! Learning a second language through reading offers a number of benefits, including an increase in cognition, memory, and listening skills. There are two types of children’s books to enjoy while sharing a love for Spanish: bilingual books and Spanish-only books.
Bilingual books create a bridge between the two languages (in this case, English and Spanish) and help you understand the story you’re reading. Spanish-only books will help you internalize the new language since it lacks the presence of English as an aid to understanding. Both types of books are essential in your quest to teach Spanish to your little one. If you are a true beginner of Spanish yourself, then pick up some (or all) of the bilingual books listed below to lead your child in learning along with you. If you feel confident about basic Spanish skills and pronunciation, then graduate to Spanish-only children’s books to read at home. Either way, you will be providing your child with the chance to discover new stories in a new language. ¡Vamos a leer!
Bilingual Books in English and Spanish
A great way to stimulate your child’s interest in Spanish is to read bilingual books to them. Cuddle up somewhere comfortable and peruse the book together. First, read the story (or a few pages, depending on your child’s capacity for attention) in English and talk about what’s happening. Then, read it again in Spanish in a playful way. This is a fool-proof way to get your child curious about the language. You can point out people or objects in the pictures when you say a vocabulary word, compare the words with those in English, and talk about the differences in sounds. The goal here is to make it fun and exciting so that each time you pick up the book, your child will be eager to hear it in Spanish. Here is our list of popular bilingual books that you and your child are sure to love!
English-Spanish Bilingual Books
For ages 3-6 years, this book of new words is big, bright, and easy to read. Each page has a central theme around which colorful pictures are displayed with labels in Spanish and English. Learn the names of colors, food, toys, farm animals, objects in the home, and many others. This is a fun way to explore Spanish vocabulary and to encourage your child to remember new words.
A perfect learning combination of art, culture, math skills, and Spanish vocabulary, this little book is a must-have! It is designed to engage babies and toddlers alike with its pretty pictures and big numbers. Follow baby Frida as you count all of the things in her world, such as clouds, leaves, toes, and dresses.
A book about mice mixing colors can only be great fun! The three mice in the story find three jars of paint in blue, red, and yellow. The story comes alive with lovely illustrations that will teach your child how to mix colors and what to call them in Spanish. This would be especially memorable if it was read along with a painting activity!
This is an endearing board book about the love of family and all the kisses that come with it. It has cute pictures to share with your child while teaching them some basic Spanish words like besos, gato, perro, and a few more. While it’s not a book for learning a ton of vocabulary at once, it captivates your little one’s attention gives you a reason to shower them with kisses while learning Spanish.
A charming story in the form of poetry, this book is about María and the llama who follows her to school. Based on the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” the new poem carries the same rhythm in both English and Spanish. It takes place in Peru and embodies all the elements of Peruvian culture with illustrations of the village where Maria lives, the typical dress of the villagers, and more. It is sure to be a quick favorite!
By reading stories to your child entirely in Spanish, you can immerse them in the language momentarily. Take advantage of it by trying to use Spanish only during the time that you are actively engaged with the book. Early literacy skills are inspired at a young age by hearing oral language. The more often you can read these stories in Spanish to your little one, the more likely they are to imitate what you say or to associate new words with the pictures. Check out our blog on strategies for teaching your child Spanish to get a better understanding of why this is. Here is a list of some excellent Spanish-only books to be treasured and enjoyed!
A book of sounds is perfect for children ages 1 to 3. Learn what sounds the animals in the book make and practice Spanish onomatopoeia at the same time! This is a Spanish rhyming board book with cute illustrations and a farm animal charm to it. It’s easy for reading, repeating new words and sounds, and enjoying the practice of Spanish.
This book is an excellent tool to teach basic emotions in Spanish and to discuss the colors that may be associated with them. The monster has accidentally mixed up all the colors and feelings so as you read to your child, you can help put them back where they belong. It’s a fun and educative book.
A diverse little group of animals is curious to know what the moon tastes like. Working as a group, they pile on top of each other to reach as high as possible. The book shows what can happen when friends share dreams and cooperate with one another. Along with the important life lesson it offers, it’s a great book to learn animal vocabulary!
This is a unique and enjoyable book that never ends! Read through the board book, learning characteristics of a strange animal. When you think you’ve finished, you are directed to flip it over and read it from back to front! It’s definitely a fun way to teach descriptive words and phrases in Spanish.
The author of this children’s book was a primary school teacher who knew what inspired and engaged students the most. This is a large, beautifully-illustrated alphabet book that uses a different animal for each letter. As it is one long, rhythmic poem, it is a fun way to teach children new words while enjoying the pleasant rhymes.
Richness of Reading
By exploring and sharing these books that are rich in language, your child is sure to develop important skills each time you sit down to read. Overall, the best thing a parent can do is to encourage reading habits early with their little one – especially when learning a second language! If you would like to practice your Spanish with a native speaker before you begin reading books to your child, try our free online Spanish lesson. Or, consider signing up your child for Spanish classes online to boost their fluency, as it’s a guarantee they’ll be speaking Spanish after the first class. With this list of books to choose from, we are positive that you will enjoy your Spanish-learning journey with your child!Read More