This is my third bilingual Spanish book list. Author Derek Taylor Kent wrote the first one. The second bilingual Spanish picture book list is from illustrator Wendy Martin. Today’s list is my own, the result of a pile of bilingual books that I’ve been saving for six months, and the books I read to create a Mexico picture book list.
What bilingual Spanish books do you recommend? Thanks for sharing!
Bilingual Spanish Picture Books Hot of the Press!
My Dad is a Clown/ Mi Papá es un Payaso by José Carlos Andrés and Natalia Hernández
Because this book appeals to both kids and adults, this is an especially good picture book to use for anyone trying to learn Spanish. A little boy is called a clown when his classmate was angry with him. That’s ok with him because his father is an actual clown. His other dad is a doctor, and in watching his clown father at rehearsals, the boy finds a way to combine both professions. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Marisol McDonald and the Monster by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Marisol McDonald likes being mismatched but she doesn’t like monsters. After hearing a noise under her bed, she’s certain there’s a monster there. She figures out her own solution to her phobia, but it turns out that the noise has a more prosaic explanation. And now, she has two companions under her bed at night. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Mama the Alien by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Laura Lacámara
It’s a case of mistaken identity. Sofia finds Mamá’s identification card in her purse and discovers that she’s an alien. Sofia now believes that she’s half alien and gets to work to figure out what this might mean. What language does an alien speak? Will space ships land in her yard? Does she have hidden alien body parts? Finally, her parents realize what Sofia thinks and explain their reason for celebration. Mamá is becoming a citizen! Her old card was a Resident Alien card, which has been renamed Permanent Resident. This a humorous picture book to discuss the process of Naturalization with kids. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Top 10: Bilingual Spanish Picture Books
10. Olinguito, from A to Z! by Lulu Delacre
Join a zoologist in the cloud forest as he searches for the elusive olinguito. The Spanish version showcases alliteration, while the English version tells an alphabet story of the animals in the enchanted forest of Ecuador. Together, both reader and scientist discover a new species of raccoon-like carnivores … the olinguito! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
9. Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacamara, translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
Dalia’s hair is a story of magical realism; her hair morphing into a column of hair as tall as a Cuban royal palm tree. Dalia decides to include flora and fauna into her hair, turning it into a micro ecosystem. Instead of washing her creation clean, Dalia requests one more day which her mother grants. A marvelous surprise is revealed, celebrating the natural world of Cuba. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
8. ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Sara Palacios
This Christmas story is mostly in English but with Spanish words sprinkled in. It’s not strictly bilingual like the other books on the list, but is a good way to introduce kids to another language. The story a clever take on The Night Before Christmas but celebrated in a Hispanic tradition with lots of festive food including tamales, montones, champurrado, pozole, mole, and buñuelos. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
7. El Perro con Sombrero by
Pepe has a nose for mischief and was inspired by Derek Taylor Kent’s own dog Zander, who luckily never had to live on the streets like Pepe. When a sombrero falls on Pepe, he starts attracting all kinds of attention. Just watch out for El Gato en Zapatos, Pepe! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
6. The Remembering Days by Pat Mora, illustrated by Robert Castilla
Set in ancient times in what is now Mexico, Bella and her grandmother, Mamá Alma, weave and work the land. Soon, it’s time to plan a remembering day to honor loved ones who have passed away. As the seasons change from summer to fall, Mamá Alma dies. When a year has passed, Bella plans the first remembering day and invites her village. With orange petals for Mamá Alma to find the way, a table heaped with her favorite foods, and stories and songs to remember her, remembering days becomes the precursor to The Day of the Dead. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
5. My Name is Gabito by Monica Brown, illustrated by Raul Colon
The life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez from his childhood in Colombia to today.
4. What Can You Do With a Rebozo? by
This sequel to What Can You Do With a Paleta? shows the myriad of uses for the rebozo, a multi-purpose shawl. It can become a fort to play in, a warm blanket, or a way to carry a baby. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
3. Furqan’s First Flat Top by Robert Liu-Trujillo
A haircut is not just a haircut. This is Furqan’s first haircut! In getting his first flat top, his first flat top is also about the love between father and son, and Furqan takes the plunge into a new hairstyle that is also a source cultural pride. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. Maya’s Blanket by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz
When Maya’s very special blanket gets frayed around the edges, her grandmother helps her turn it into something new. From a blanket to a dress. From a dress to a skirt. From a skirt to a shawl. From a shawl to a scarf. From a scarf to a ribbon. Finally, from a ribbon to a book mark. When the book mark gets lost, Maya has a great idea of how to keep her blanket safe forever. Celebrating ingenuity and love, Maya’s blanket is also a story about growing up and letting go. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
1. Finding the Music by Jennifer Torres, illustrated by Renato Alarcão
Reyna grows closer to her deceased grandfather when she accidentally damages his guitar hanging her family’s restaurant. The kind deeds that he did when he was alive come back around to illuminate to Reyna what kind of person he was as she tries to get the guitar repaired.
The idea of karma can be abstract and this bilingual picture book beautifully illustrates the ripple effect of being a good person. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
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