Five Fantastic Bilingual Books in Spanish for Kids

Alexis Fishbaugh, Kids’ Club Spanish School, Spain
17 May 2019
One of the best ways to learn Spanish for kids or any other foreign language is to read it.  In fact, this is how a lot of us learned grammar structure and acquired vocabulary in our own native language.  Bilingual books are a great way to ease into reading in another language.

The best thing about them, is that many times, one side is in English and one side is in the target language, or the books strategically sprinkle the target language into a story in English, so as to avoid frustration and getting bored due to not understanding.  The target language is mixed in with the English so as to, little by little, acquire vocabulary.  Reading bilingual books is really helpful in initiating small children into a bilingual learning process.

1.- Bilingual book in Spanish for kids and English: What can you do with a Paleta? Written by Carmen Tafolla

This book is for children aged 3-7 and is written in both English and Spanish, in a way that makes it easy for children to learn new vocabulary.  It is about thinking creatively.  The story connects worldly concepts such as the ice-cream truck, that we all know from our own neighborhoods, and relates it to Mexican culture.  The kids learn that people, all across the globe, eat popsicles, play outside and think creatively about the things they find around them.

Spanish for Kids Book

About Carmen Tafolla

Carmen Tafolla (born 29 July 1951) is an internationally acclaimed Chicana writer from San Antonio, Texas, and a professor of Transformative Children’s Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Tafolla served as the of San Antonio from 2012 to 2014, and was named the Poet Laureate of Texas for 2015-16. Tafolla has written more than thirty books, and won multiple literary awards. She is one of the most highly anthologized Chicana authors in the United States, with her work appearing in more than 200 anthologies.

The book is about a young girl who is very proud of her “Barrio”, or neighborhood and introduces the Mexican ice cream treat, “paleta”.  Her favorite time spent in her neighborhood is when the paleta cart arrives to her block.  She describes, using impressive imagery, all the great things you can do with a “paleta”.  Painting your tongue, making a mustache, or cooling off while eating it on a hot Summer day.

The illustrations are impressive and will keep your child engaged and wanting to learn Spanish. The book won the top America’s Award for 2010.  This book is a great parent-child read along to help improve Spanish for kids. And best of all it will make you want to travel to Mexico and try a yummy “paleta”!


2.- Bilingual book in Spanish for kids and English: Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora

This book is for the age range 4 -7 years old. The Spanish text appears alongside English so that kids can read either side to understand the story or compare each side picking up new vocabulary words in Spanish on the way.  Not only can the children learn Spanish with this book but they will also learn a good lesson about gratitude.

We follow a small, multiracial boy who celebrates family, friendship, and fun through narration about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful. We follow him from when he wakes up, to playing outside and spending time with his family. The story ends with him cozy back in bed in his pyjamas.

Spanish for Kids Book

About Pat Mora

Pat Mora (born in El Paso, Texas, on January 19, 1942) is an American poet and author of books for adults, teens and children. Her grandparents came to El Paso from northern Mexico. A graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, she received Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, and is an Honorary Member of the American Library Association. A literacy advocate, in 1996, she founded Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros now celebrated across the country on April 30th.

This book is sweet without being cheesy.  The kids will easily be able to connect the events to their lives and understand what it is that really matters.  From the small aspects in life, like a ladybug, to bigger aspects, like friends and family, the events ring true and are easily relatable to our everyday life.  All this, plus, they will begin to become accustomed to reading Spanish for kids.  After reading the book the children could be encouraged to write about what they are grateful for, using the Spanish vocabulary they learned from the book.


3.- English book with Spanish for Kids sprinkled throughout: Fire! Fuego! Brave Bomberos by Susan Middleton Elya

This book is for kids aged 3-6.  It talks about the day in the life of firefighters or “Bomberos”.  It is great because it eases children into learning Spanish words and is definitely not overwhelming.  The theme of firefighting is one that is quite exciting for younger kids.  The book is sprinkled with Spanish words that parents and kids can, first, use the context in which the word appears to guess the meaning, and second, look it up together to ensure accuracy.  This is a great way of learning new words because you actually have to think about what the word could possibly mean and it makes the learning longer lasting.  It is easy to guess what the Spanish words mean within the context, however, when in doubt, there is a glossary in the back to double check.  It could be great to create a “vocabulary notebook” and review the words the next day.

Spanish for Kids Book

About Susan Middleton Elya

Susan Middleton Elya is an established author of 22 books. She was born in Urbandale, Iowa and attending Iowa State University and has a a dual degree in Spanish and Elementary Education. She studied in Venezuela and Spain. She has wanted to be a writer since she was very little. 
The story begins with firefighters rushing to a burning “casa” to put out the “Fuego”. The rhythmic mix of English and Spanish words enrich the experience, making the book fun and upbeat to read, while the children cheer for the firefighters to save the day. Fire is a serious subject to discuss but this book presents the content in a non-threatening way, however, still emphasising the importance of the issue. The book even teaches a lesson, indirectly, on equality and diversity, as a female firefighter, Carlota, is included, and all the characters have different complexions and are of varying age ranges. “Fire! Fuego! Brave Bomberos”’s rhythmic text mixed with English and Spanish is quite a clever way to introduce Spanish for kids to young learners.


4.- English book with Spanish for Kids sprinkled throughout: Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya

This book also takes advantage of rhythmic reading, mixing English and Spanish words in a musical combination of the languages.   It is a fun upbeat way to add new Spanish for kids words to your child’s vocabulary notebook and is perfect for your little “bilingual” learner.

The story is a twist on the classic “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” but with a surprise ending. The “Oso” family goes on a walk, and Rubia (Goldilocks) takes advantage of the empty “casita” and a nice bowl of “sopa”. The new variation on the ending sends the children a good message about redeeming yourself after mistakes made. Goldilocks redeems herself after entering uninvited to the bear’s house.  She returns to the bears’ house and makes amends and corrects the damage she’s done. The “Osos” and “Rubia” are all likable characters. The kids have so much fun figuring out what the Spanish words mean.

Spanish for Kids Book

More About Susan Middleton Elya

Before she was a published picture-book author, she was a teacher. She learned Spanish because her father spoke a little bit and she wanted to understand what he said. While on a high school trip to Mexico she became amazed by the new culture and language. She is a mother and now lives in California.

5.- Book entirely in Spanish for kids: Ojos para ver by Isaías Isabel

This book is entirely in Spanish. The sentences are short and simple but the vocabulary very useful. After an image of an eagle and it’s eye, the following sentence appears “Hay ojos para ver de lejos” which means “There are eyes for seeing far”. It is simple, short language which contains useful vocabulary.  The book presents various animals and explains that eyes are not always used in the same way.  Some eyes can see under water and others can see at night.  Some eyes have more than one eyelid and some can still see when their eyes are closed! This book will open your child’s eyes not only to the Spanish language but also to how different species use theirs!

Spanish for Kids Book

About Isaías Isabel

Isaías Isabel is one of José Manuel Mateo’s pseudonyms. He holds Doctorate degree of Applied Linguistics from The National Autonomous University of Mexico. He is the author of various children’s books and other literature. He has won many awards for different essays and traditional Mexican lyric poems.

The parent and child can look up all the words together, little by little, and read and reread the book to review the language.  It is a great way to create an immersion environment and you will see that in no time your child will be able to read the entire book understanding everything.

Initiating the bilingual learning process for your child can seem like an overwhelming task, however, bilingual books are a really great resource to get started. There are websites that sell a lot of really good bilingual books that are even digital! Such as Booklingual. Or some more suggestions at Bilingualmarketplace. Reading books in the target language allows for acquisition of new grammar structures and vocabulary. The books recommended in this article are assured to entertain and grab your little one’s attention. Reading in Spanish for kids, is a wonderful way to begin the path to bilingualism.

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