What We’re Reading: Some Terrific Bilingual Picture Books

-posted by Meghan

We are by no means experts, only having dived into the world of bilingual books a few short months ago.  But we have discovered a few favorites, and I thought I’d pass along these first few books that have been enjoyed by all members of the family as we all learn Spanish together.  First, I learned a couple of tips from our teachers about finding good books:
1.  The books that you may think are easy, since you have the English translations already on your shelf, aren’t necessarily the best books.  Often, they are lousy translations that are literal translations of the words, not of the meaning, which leaves you with stilted, inexact phrases that don’t reflect the way people talk.  For example, Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Oso pardo, oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahí?) is, we have been told, a terrible translation.  On the other hand, his From Head to Toe (De la cabeza a los pies) is excellent, and quickly became a favorite.
2.  Songs are the best way to learn a language!  I have picked up more Spanish in the last month than in the rest of my life combined just from listening to the kids singing the songs they’re learning at school.  So books based on songs became a staple.
3.  I can read Spanish!  I can’t speak it, but it’s different form English in that it’s pretty darn phonetic, so I can read to the kids, even if I don’t know what the heck I’m saying.  And that’s been great for all of us!

So armed with those tips, I’d say go explore and don’t be afraid to read out loud, even if you don’t know what you’re saying!
Here are a few books we can’t stop reading:

Abuela by Arthur Dorros: This is a charming book about a beloved Grandma.  One of our favorite topics!

¿Eres Mi Mama? by P.D. Eastman: Yep.  This is Are you My Mother?  And it’s waaaaay more fun to read in Spanish.

Viborita de cascabel by Lynn Moroney: Grandma gave the kids this book a few years ago and we’ve always read it in English – now we alternate reading it in Spanish and English.

El Festival de las Calaveras by Luis San Vicente: We reviewed this a while back for Day of the Dead.  We’re still reading it.  Skeletons are cool!

Gathering the Sun by Alma Flor Ada: A beautiful alphabet book.

Mi Primer Libro de Palabras by Jeni Riley: Handy!  The kids are always asking me words I don’t know, and this way we learn together.

De Colores by Jose-Luis Orozco: Hands down our favorite!  Orozco is a singer they listen to in school all the time to learn things like colors and body parts.  Now we listen to the cd at home and then look to see what the words are that we’re singing in this companion book!

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