Top 10 Best Books to Learn Spanish for Adults
The best books to learn Spanish are usually simple, creative, and easy to understand. A plethora of books, textbooks, and parallel text storybooks are out there that aim to teach you Spanish, but not all of them are equally effective.
In today’s post, we’ll explore 10 of the best books to learn Spanish so you can read your way to bilingualism with the best content out there. The wide variety of books on this list, all use different approaches, pros, and cons—choose the ones that best suit your learning style. The good news? No expensive, boring textbooks are on this list.
Without further ado, ¡aprendamos español!
1. Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish (Margarita Madrigal – 1953)
The title of this book makes me think of a wizard who wrote a spellbook to help language learners everywhere get interested in learning Spanish. And it might as well be because this is one of the best selling and most recommended Spanish textbooks.
Written by Margarita Madrigal, with illustrations by none other than Andy Warhol, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish has some years under its belt, having been published in 1953. This doesn’t mean the book is outdated. You’ll start learning Spanish with the words in English you already know though cognates and words with similar roots. This book has stood the test of time, and it’s a great recommendation for the dedicated Spanish learner.
2. No Nonsense Spanish Workbook (Caitlin H. Cuneo – 2016)
This is one of the best books to learn Spanish because it comes with over 200 pages of thorough information and exercises that are not what you would usually find in a textbook. This book is great because it doesn’t pretend the internet doesn’t exist but it embraces it instead.
It gives you exercises that will prompt you to look up words and apply the knowledge you gain in each chapter. That’s part of the “no-nonsense” they advertise in their title! Check out No Nonsense Spanish Workbook on Amazon!
3. DK First Picture Dictionary: Spanish (Dorling Kindersley – 2005)
Whoever said picture books were just for kids might just change their mind when they look through DK First Picture Dictionary: Spanish. The best books to learn Spanish usually take the simplest approach, and with this book, you get 2,000 words worth of vocabulary presented with pictures that are neatly organized and grouped together in themes that are easy to pick up and understand.
This book is great to sneak in some practice during your off time. You can keep it in the living room, in your study, or even by the toilet seat! Another great thing about this book is that it comes with pronunciation text for each and every word in it, meaning you won’t mispronounce any words while you learn them.
4. See It & Say It In Spanish
This book also has lots of pictures and images to help you expand your vocabulary and learn new words through image association. What makes it stand out is that it contains pronunciation guides, grammar tips, and exercises to help you practice the language.
However, this serves more as a complement to learning rather than a standalone book. You will get the most out of it if you’re already receiving Spanish lessons. See It & Say It in Spanish is a great option for traveling and preparing for specific travel-related situations.
5. Barron’s 501 Verbs (Christopher Kendris – 1970)
This is your one-stop-shop for all your Spanish verb needs. This book serves as great reference material for Spanish learners at any level. Each verb explored in this volume comes with all of its conjugations, as well as sections that teach you the different kinds of verbs, their uses, and general rules to get you going if you find yourself in a lull.
If you find yourself having a hard time with conjugation, check our Barron’s 501 Verbs on Amazon to see if this is the right pick for you.
6. Short Stories in Spanish: New Penguin Parallel Text (John L. King – 1999)
The best books to learn Spanish for intermediate level speakers offer a wider selection than those made for beginners. Since intermediate speakers can have conversations in Spanish and would survive if thrown in the middle of a Spanish speaking town, sometimes the best way to continue learning Spanish is through dialogue.
The next best thing when you don’t have a Spanish speaker to talk to are storybooks, but if we want to make storybooks relevant for learning they have to be specifically made for that. Short Stories in Spanish: New Penguin Parallel Text contains a collection of short stories with parallel text in English that will help you read and understand any words that you don’t yet know.
7. First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book (Angel Flores – 1964)
While the last book is appropriate for intermediate readers, this one is meant for Spanish beginners. First Spanish Reader: A Beginners Dual-Language Book has parallel text stories that are easy to understand and relate to Latin American culture, so you’ll be learning more than just Spanish by reading this book.
The stories are super short and abundant, and it has a section with notes, exercises, and vocabulary at the end so you can solidify what you learned.
8. Living Language Spanish, Complete Edition (Living Language – 2015)
This entry features a book series that contains three books and nine CDs to listen to while you learn. This set has the benefit of audio support that other Spanish books won’t have, and it’s one of the best books to learn Spanish if you’re in need of a crash course.
Since the pace of the CDs will not be the same pace at which everyone learns, these kinds of books usually require the reader to pause or rewind the audio so they can listen to a difficult bit again, which is an advantage over learning Spanish in a class with a lot of students where attention isn’t as focused, but it won’t offer the personalization of one-on-one classes. Still, it’s a great pick if you’re going to live or work abroad and are in need of some quick Spanish lessons.
9. Easy Spanish Step-By-Step (Barbara Bergstein – 2005)
It’s hard not to compare this book with Barron’s 501 Spanish Verbs, since they have a similar premise. However, where this book shines is in its quality and simplicity. It brings you comprehensive descriptions of verbs and how their conjugations work, along with simple exercises for you to practice.
The vocabulary in Easy Spanish Step-By-Step claims to be high-frequency, so you’ll be getting more focused words instead of a dictionary-like reference book. While the 501 Spanish Verbs book will serve as great reference material, this one is great for practicing what you know and learning some extra verbs in the process.
10. Easy Spanish Phrasebook (Pablo García Loerza PhD – 2010)
Easy Spanish Phrasebook is one of the best books to learn Spanish if you need to communicate while traveling. This classic phrasebook contains over 700 helpful Spanish phrases. It’s great to read while on the plane, to brush up your skills and learn new vocabulary that might just make your experience abroad more pleasant.
Phrasebooks rarely teach you Spanish on their own, but as complementary material, they prove to be a great resource for any Spanish learner.
¡Aprendamos Juntos Español!
Learning Spanish is more than just reading books. Having the best books to learn Spanish is a great step forward, but the best way to learn is always by talking to someone—and it’s even better if that someone is a certified Spanish teacher! If you want to try learning Spanish with a native speaker, take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy to receive lessons that you won’t find in any book.
Is there a book that helped you learn Spanish that we didn’t mention? Let us know in a comment!
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