Spanish-English bilingual books

The books recommended below were published within the last several years. While some titles contain only a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary, many are fully bilingual. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

 

Preschool

Suggested ages level for all titles: PS

¡Muu, Moo!: Rimas de animales / Animal Nursery Rhymes written by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy; illus. by Viví Escrivá; English versions by Rosalma Zubizarreta (HarperCollins/Rayo)
Sixteen traditional nursery rhymes are presented first in Spanish and then in a free retelling in English that captures the flavor of the original. Soft, warm watercolor illustrations accompany the rhymes. 48 pages.

Waiting for the Biblioburro written by Monica Brown; illus. by John Parra (Tricycle)
Ana impatiently anticipates the arrival of a burro-riding librarian in her remote village; she reads avidly, writes, and creates her own book while she waits. Spanish words are defined in context and in a glossary. 32 pages.

Quinito, Day and Night / Quinito, día y noche written by Ina Cumpiano; illus. by José Ramírez (Children’s)
Quinito’s (Quinito’s Neighborhood) bilingual descriptions of his family, friends, and activities are accompanied by naive-style paintings. This book of opposites also succeeds as an exposition of bilingual vocabulary and a portrayal of community. 24 pages.

My Way: A Margaret and Margarita Story / A mi manera: Un cuento de Margarita y Margaret by Lynn Reiser (Greenwillow)
This bilingual tale is structured in an ingenious way, with the English (Margaret’s voice) and Spanish (Margarita’s) mirroring each other on facing pages, but with each girl presenting a distinct self. 32 pages.

 

Picture Books

Suggested grade level for all titles: K–3

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People written by Monica Brown; illus. by Julie Paschkis (Holt)
Neftali’s boyhood love of reading, writing, and nature informed his poetry and his “dreams of peace.” Stylized illustrations are embellished with words—in English, Spanish, and other languages—related in both sound and sense. 32 pages.

Número Uno written by Alex Dorros and Arthur Dorros; illus. by Susan Guevara (Abrams)
When their village needs a new bridge, architect Socrates Rivera and builder Hercules Hernandez entertainingly pit brains against brawn. Simple Spanish dialogue punctuates the story-hour-ready text with verve.  32 pages.

My Papa Diego and Me: Memories of My Father and His Art / Mi papá Diego y yo: Recuerdos de mi padre y su arte written by Guadalupe Rivera Marín; illus by Diego Rivera (Children’s)
In this bilingual tribute, Marín pairs thirteen of her father’s paintings with first-person text. Her personal insight is conveyed simply, letting the art speak for itself. End matter offers more information about the paintings. 32 pages.

Tía Isa Wants a Car written by Meg Medina; illus. by Claudio Muñoz (Candlewick)
The young narrator describes how Tía Isa wants a car that’s “the same shiny green as the ocean.” However, they don’t have enough money—yet. Spanish words are incorporated naturally. Soft watercolor illustrations mirror the text. 32 pages.

Gracias / Thanks written by Pat Mora; illus. by John Parra (Lee and Low)
A boy says thanks to everything, from the sun that wakes him up to his pajamas. Poetic and funny, the text is presented in Spanish first, then English. Folk-art-style illustrations have a worn, homey appearance. 32 pages.

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book by Yuyi Morales (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Ghost Zelmiro reminds skeleton Señor Calavera that he forgot a gift for Grandma Beetle’s birthday. Calavera quickly gathers presents, which get ruined. All ends well with a sweetly surreal conclusion. Brilliantly colored art  portrays an amiable, dreamlike world. 40 pages.

Tortuga in Trouble written by Ann Whitford Paul; illus. by Ethan Long (Holiday)
Tortuga carries dinner to his abuela, while his three salivating amigos follow. When Tortuga comes upon Coyote disguised as the tortoise’s grandmother, the amigos save the day. The wide-eyed creatures are endearingly expressive. 32 pages.

A Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; illus. by Esau Andrade Valencia (Cinco Puntos)
On the first day of summer, Octavio begins to dream. He shares these visions with his granddaughter Regina, who also considers dreams “good friends.” Languorous sentences in English and Spanish evoke a dream state. 40 pages.

Let’s Go See Papá written by Lawrence Schimel; illus. by Alba Marina Rivera; trans. by Elisa Amada (Groundwood)
When Papá sends money for the narrator and her mother to join him in the United States, the narrator feels both elated and sad about leaving her grandmother behind. Conversational text and expressionistic illustrations detail life among three generations of women. 40 pages.

 

Intermediate

Suggested grade level for all titles: 4–6

The Coyote Under the Table / El coyote debajo de la mesa: Folktales Told in Spanish and English retold by Joe Hayes; illus. by Antonio Castro L. (Cinco)
Clean prose highlights the structure and rhythm of ten bilingual folktales drawn from the Hispanic New Mexico oral tradition, which are best read aloud. Brief source notes expand on the tales’ history and context. 133 pages.

How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez (Knopf)
In this sequel to How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay, Miguel and Juanita are adjusting to life in small-town Vermont without their father; the principal asks Tía Lola to teach Spanish at school. Easy-to-understand Spanish phrases are sprinkled throughout. 135 pages.

 

Poetry

Suggested grade level for all titles: 4–6

A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout written by Paul B. Janeczko; illus. by Chris Raschka
Thirty-eight works celebrate the aurality of poetry. Some of the organization is by number of readers (poems to read alone, in two voices, etc.), others highlight form, while another section includes bilingual poems in Spanish and English. 64 pages.

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Comments

  1. Sean O’Mordha has a YA series, A Pirate’s Legacy, in which two of the three protagonists are Spanish citizens. The main backdrop for these stories is the Canary and Caribbean Islands.

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