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Updated Spanish-English bilingual booklist

The books below, recommended by the Horn Book Magazine and Guide, were published within the last five 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. For more Spanish-English bilingual books, click here.

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.

Ten Little Puppies / Diez perritos written by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy; illus. by Ulises Wensell; English version by Rosalma Zubizarreta (HarperCollins/Rayo)
This illustrated version of the well-known traditional Spanish nursery rhyme “Diez perritos” provides a great opportunity for bilingual storytimes. Lively contemporary-set pictures put the playful pups front and center. 32 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.

¡Bravo! written by Ginger Foglesong Guy; illus. by René King Moreno (Greenwillow)
Two children go on a treasure hunt through their yard, gathering items in a wagon. The kids meet their friends for a makeshift parade. Carefree drawings illustrate the story. The bilingual text contains short phrases in both Spanish and English, ideal for children just starting to read in either language. 32 pages.

 

Picture Books

Suggested grade level for all titles: K–3

Let Me Help! / ¡Quiero ayudar! written by Alma Flor Ada; illus. by Angela Domínguez
Parrot Perico repeats “Let me help!” as his (human) family prepares for the Cinco de Mayo festival. They shoo him away; to everyone’s surprise he eventually finds a way to help. Warm-hearted illustrations — from a bird’s-eye view — support the family-centered text (in both English and Spanish). 32 pages.

Tía’s Tamales written by Ana Baca; illustrated by Noël Chilton (New Mexico)
Luz’s abuela teaches her granddaughter how to make tamales (recipe appended). While the two prepare the dish, Abuela tells (in English and Spanish) the story of how Luz’s great-grandfather learned to make tamales from a favorite aunt. Layered illustrations reflect the multigenerational dynamic. 32 pages.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina written by Monica Brown; illus. by Sara Palacios; Spanish translation by Adriana Domínquez (Children’s)
Spirited text in English and Spanish describes the ways the mixed-race narrator “doesn’t match,” from clothing choice to physical appearance. Palacios’s illustrations capture Marisol’s exuberant style, as does Domínguez’s thoughtful Spanish translation of Brown’s text. Look for sequel Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash: Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual. 32 pages.

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.

Tito Puente: Mambo King / Rey del mambo written by Monica Brown; illus. by Rafael López (HarperCollins/Rayo)
A bilingual picture book charts the life of Tito Puente with all the exuberance of the drummer and bandleader’s irresistible music. Vibrant imagery hums right off the page, full of high-contrast color and energetic composition, and decorated with swirling, starry embellishments. 32 pages.

Side by Side / Lado a lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and César Chavéz / La historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez written by Monica Brown; illus. by Joe Cepeda (HarperCollins/Rayo)
This significant contribution to the increasing number of books about César Chávez focuses equally on his partner, Dolores Huerta. Their life stories are told in parallel until they meet and “side by side…began their journey.” Huerta gets her due in this heartfelt bilingual volume. 32 pages.

Maria Had a Little Llama / María tenía una llamita by Angela Dominguez (Holt)
This bilingual riff on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is set in the Peruvian Alps. The text mirrors the traditional tale; both languages appear on the same page or spread. Bold ink and gouache illustrations include plentiful cultural clues, and Maria and her llama’s personalities shine through. 32 pages.

Little Roja Riding Hood written by Susan Middleton Elya; illus. by Susan Guevara (Putnam)
Little Red rides an ATV to deliver la canasta (basket) to her abuela in this hip Little Red retelling. Sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases, the rhyming text is fresh and funny. Just as clever as the text are the watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations, containing plenty of humor and layers of meaning. 32 pages.

El perro en sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale written by Derek Taylor Kent; illus. by Jed Henry (Holt)
Dog Pepe is lonely until he becomes famous movie star el perro en sombrero. Disaster strikes when a jealous cat steals his sombrero, but it helps Pepe realize there is more to life than fame. The illustrations are lively, funny, and action-filled; alternation between the English and Spanish text feels natural. 32 pages.

Señor Pancho Had a Rancho written by René Colato Laínez; illus. by Elwood Smith (Holiday)
Old MacDonald has a farm; Señor Pancho has a rancho. You’ll hear “cock-a-doodle-doo” and “peep” on the farm; Pancho’s gallo says “quiquiriquí” and his pollito says “pío.” The energetic illustrations are a good match for the lively reworked lyrics, which include Spanish words and animal sounds. 32 pages.

Migrant written by José Manuel Mateo; illus. by Javier Martínez Pedro (Abrams)
A first-person narration recounts a child’s memories of his migration from Mexico to Los Angeles. Intricately detailed black-and-white artwork is presented as one long vertical picture book with an accordion fold, in the style of ancient Mayan codices. The reverse side presents the Spanish translation. 22 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. Also available in an all-Spanish edition. 32 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 L. Castro  (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. Several sequels follow. 135 pages.

 

Poetry

Suggested grade level listed with each title

Salsa: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem written by Jorge Argueta; illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh; trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado (Groundwood)
This bilingual poem plays on the multiple meanings of salsa for a musical recipe. As a boy’s family prepares salsa roja, his imagination runs wild, ingredients becoming instruments. Onomatopoeia and detailed ingredient descriptions evoke various senses; Mesoamerican-inspired drawings in earthy tones accompany the poem. Look for several other “cooking poems” in this series. 32 pages.

Water Rolls, Water Rises / El agua rueda, el agua sube by Pat Mora; illus. by Meilo So (Lee/Children’s)
Fourteen three-line verses, in English and Spanish, celebrate water in its many forms. Each verse is accompanied by a majestic painting from a specific place in the world, from Arizona to Zambia. In either language, the poems, read aloud, can be as dramatic as the accompanying illustrations. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Flutter & Hum / 
Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis (Holt)
Written in Spanish then translated into English by the (non-native Spanish speaker) author, each of these animal poems is intricately connected to its corresponding painting. The colors and line-work of each gouache illustration vary according to the subject. Grade level: PS, K–3. 32 pages.

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