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One of the keys to raising bilingual kids is to find ways to expose them to the target language in fun and immersive ways. One of the most effective ways is to read to them in that language as much as possible. Since I’m raising my daughter to speak both Spanish and English as a native, I’ve made sure to fill our house with tons of children’s books in Spanish and both my husband and I constantly read them to her. Not only are we nurturing her love of Spanish and, in some cases, the Latino culture through the unique characters and stories many of these books portray, but we’re also nurturing her love for books and cultivating her imagination.
The truth is that it’s not very easy to find quality books originally written in Spanish. Yet, slowly but surely there are more and more publishing companies offering children’s books in Spanish and more Latino authors and illustrators getting their work on the shelves for us to find.
If you want to grow or start your own collection of children’s books in Spanish, check out this list of books that moms and contributors from SpanglishBaby.com have curated.
1. La Cenicienta
Chilean poet and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Gabriela Mistral retells the story of Cinderella in beautiful and poetic rhythm.
Jonah Winter’s Frida is a wonderful look into the life of the iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo.
3. Juegos Tradicionales
Juegos Tradicionales is a collection of 34 of the most popular games played in Latin America by children.
4. ¡Ya soy hermano mayor!
¡Ya soy hermano mayor! is a fun story about a little boy named Nacho who can’t wait for his baby brother to be old enough to play with him.
5. ABeDedario de Plantas
ABeCedario de Plantas covers a variety of flowers and their names in Spanish including a section about plant facts and a glossary of new words.
Amigos by Alma Flor Ada, is a story that teaches children about shapes, colors, sizes, and also teaches kids to appreciate diversity.
7. Buenas Noches Luna
Buenas Noches Luna is an American classic that’s a perfect note to end the day on.
8. Cali y Mona
Cali y Mona is a beautiful story about the friendship between a blind young girl and her guiding pony that was inspired by a true story that the author, Pepe Valle, read about in a newspaper. The book is written in Spanish and Braille and comes with textured images.
9. Cha-cha-cha en la Selva
Cha-cha-cha en la Selva, translated by Yanitzia James Canetti, showcases animals that move and dance while introducing different vocabulary and commands. The book comes with an audio CD.
10. Chimoc en Machu Picchu
Chimoc takes kids on a trip to Machu Picchu and teaches them about caring for the environment. The book comes with a CD which includes a narration of the book and songs that were written for the story.
11. Cuadros de Familia
Cuadros de Familia is a book about childhood memories told through 14 vignettes of images and narrative focusing on traditional Mexican American culture.
12. De Cómo Dicen Que Fue Hecho el Mar
De Cómo Dicen Que Fue Hecho el Mar (or How They Say the Ocean was Made) is one book in a series of three books about Taino legends. They were adapted and illustrated by Mrinali Álvarez Astacio and are a great way to teach kids about traditional legends on complex topics like how the ocean came to be.
13. Donde Viven Los Monstruos
We all know the beloved and classic book by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are. The Spanish translation by Teresa Mlawer stays true to the original and is sure to be a favorite of kids in either language.
14. Dita y Dito Van a La Librería
Dita y Dito Van a La Librería is the story of two little piglets whose parents take them to a book store for story time and while listening to the story their imaginations begin soar.
15. El Gallo de Bodas
El Gallo de Bodas is a Cuban folktale about a bossy rooster going to his uncle’s wedding. Along the way, the rooster dirties his beak and tries to persuade everyone to help him clean it.
16. Esperanza Renace
Esperanza Renace is the story of a young girl who has to leave the comforts of her home for a new life in California with her mother. In the process Esperanza learns the importance of love and sacrifice for her family.
17. Friends from the Other Side / Amigos Del Oltro Lado
This story by Gloria Anzaldua deals with the sensitive issue of undocumented immigration and allows children to view it from the perspective of someone who is going through it, like the main character.
18. Froggy y Su Papá
Froggy y Su Papá is a book about a father and son spending the day together on Father’s Day and things not going according to plan. Froggy is also part of a book series for kids.
19. Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá
The bilingual book Good Night Captain Mama tells the story of Marco and his curiosity for his mom’s military flight suit. The story evolves into a sweet conversation about his mothers military job and the meaning of all the patches on her uniform.
20. Growing Up with Tamales / Los Tamales de Ana
Gwendolyn Zepeda’s award-winning bilingual picture book, Los Tamales de Ana, is the story of a younger sister, Ana, who wants to be just like her older sister, Lidia. The book focuses on the tradition of making tamales during the holiday season and how it is a family activity.
Guacamole is a book that shows kids how to prepare guacamole through a poem in which three siblings prepare the recipe.
¡Jonrón! was written by New York Yankees player Alex Rodríguez, and tells the autobiographical story of his experience as a young boy learning to practice baseball.
23. La Oruga Muy Hambrienta
As most of us know the beloved story of La Oruga Muy Hambrienta or The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about a caterpillar’s transformation into a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar eats until his stomach hurts, and when he eats a green leaf he feels better. This is a great story to teach kids about healthy eating habits.
24. Los Reyes Magos De Oriente
This book shares the traditional story of the three wise men in beautiful rhymes and illustrations.
Papelucho is a beloved Latin American book series written by Marcela Paz. The series focuses on stories told through an 8-year-old boy’s diary entries.
26. René Tiene Dos Apellidos / René Has Two Last Names
This story by René Colato Laínez is about being Latino and having two very long last names. The story shows how René embraced this cultural tradition and learned to take pride in it.
27. Ricitos De Oro y Los Tres Osos / Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Award-winning language-learning innovator Ana Lomba, translated the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears to Spanish. The book also includes an audio CD that narrates the story in Spanish.
28. Tener un patito es útil
Tener un patito es útil / Tener un nene es útil is two stories in one book. One story is a duck’s perspective on bath time and the other story is the child’s perspective. These stories are great to teach children about different points of view.
29. Un Pez, Dos Peces, Pez Rojo, Pez Azul
This classic story Dr. Seuss was beautifully translated by Yanitzia Canetti. The story is a series of short tales about a boy and a girl and their adventures with various characters and animals.
30. Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá
Esperando a Papá introduces kids to immigration issues and how it affects families. The story focuses on Beto and his mother who came to the United States from El Salvador, but Beto’s father was unable to get a visa. When Beto finds out that his father will soon join them, he wants to purchase a special present for him.