Reading with our kids is a great way to celebrate our unique Latino culture and language. It’s also a great opportunity to recognize the important contributions Hispanic-Americans have made to our country. Today I’ve rounded up some of my favorite bilingual picture books to help you and your little ones celebrate our Latino culture and history through fun and inspirational stories — from simple board books to biographies — that will also help your little ones learn our Spanish language. Read on!
Some of you may or may not know that I often review bilingual books for Common Sense Media — a trusted online resource for entertainment and technology recommendations for families, including children’s book recommendations. Below is a list of 10 great bilingual picture books I’ve recently had the great pleasure of reviewing. These are texts that I’ve carefully examined and read with my own kids. I highly recommend these to families looking for quality bilingual picture books to share with their kids. I think you’ll love these as much as we do!
Why Read in Spanish?
Raising bilingual kids isn’t easy! I know. Even as a bilingual educator myself, I struggle with this. I don’t always speak Spanish at home. Sometimes my kids resist the Spanish conversations. Often times it’s just easier for us to speak English to each other. Can you relate? But there is one thing that I always make sure to do with my kids — that’s read in Spanish. Be it a bilingual picture book, or a full on Spanish story book, reading is something we enjoy doing together. It’s a fun way to learn new vocabulary in Spanish, practice Spanish literacy, and just simply celebrate our Latino culture. Plus, I think you’ll all agree with me that reading with our kids is one of the best ways to build great parent-child relationships. Here’s a great list of bilingual picture books to celebrate Hispanic heritage and get your kids to read in Spanish!
Here are 10 Great Bilingual Picture Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage
One Is a Piñata: A Book of Numbers, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Para
This lively picture picture book makes counting fun for little kids, with tons of Spanish words and a detailed glossary of Spanish vocabulary at the end of the book. This story helps kids discover a fiesta of numbers in the world around them. They learn to count from one to ten in two languages and pick up a wealth of Spanish vocabulary along the way. Includes rich illustrations and fun-to read rhyming texts that little ones will enjoy. For more details, read my complete book review here.
Our Celebración!, by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Ana Aranda
A festive rhyming book that weaves in Spanish words and features a large parade with fantastic floats, marching bands, fire engines, and more. The story is told mostly in English but kids will pick up many Spanish words along the way. A glossary can be found in the back of the book to help kids learn the 50 Spanish words they’ll encounter in the story — including a helpful pronunciation guide. It’s a festive story book about a community celebration and families will enjoy reading this one together. Learn more details about it by reading my full review of Our Celebración!
¡VAMOS! Let’s Go to the Market!, by author-illustrator Raúl the Third
This beautifully illustrated picture book brings an old comic book feel and tells the story of a busy border town market. It immerses little readers in Latin culture and every page is filled with loads of details, colorful illustrations, plus a great collection of simple Spanish words and phrases for little kids to learn and practice. What’s nice is that when the main character, Little Lobo, speaks in Spanish, you’ll find the English translation at the bottom of each page. In addition, the helpful glossary at the back of the book translates all 98 Spanish words included in this book. It’s an engaging comic-book-like text that your kids will enjoy reading! Learn more about it by reading my review of ¡VAMOS! Let’s Go to the Market!
Tortillas are Round / Las tortillas son redondas, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Parra
This lively bilingual picture books draws kids into Latino culture as they learn about the world of shapes all around them. It includes colorful illustrations and fun-to-read rhyming texts that introduce kids to Spanish vocabulary. Each page also includes a Spanish translation of the full text. This is a great story for parents and kids to read together as they practice their Spanish language skills. Many of the objects featured in this picture book are Latino in origin, giving Mexican American families and Latinos in general a great opportunity to explore their native culture in a fun way. Read more of my thoughts on this fun bilingual picture book by checking out my full book review of Tortillas are Round / Las tortillas son redondas.
Te amo, sol – Te amo, luna/ I Love You, Sun – I Love You, Moon, by Karen Pandell and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
This is a colorful little board book that’s perfect for the youngest of readers. It teaches Spanish and English words, as well as simple concepts that little ones will understand. It’s a simple story of kids exploring their surroundings and connecting what they see to Spanish and English vocabulary. Toddlers, especially, will enjoy reading this text as repetition makes it fun for them to read along and learn new Spanish and English words. It’s an adorable little board book and you can read more about it in my full review of Te amo, sol – Te amo, luna/ I Love You, Sun – I Love You, Moon
How Are You? / ¿Comó estás?, by author-illustrator Angela Dominguez
This simple but attractive bilingual picture book tells the story of new friends and explores feelings expressed through language. Two endearing giraffes befriend an ostrich and despite their obvious differences, plus an apparent language barrier, the new friends are able to successfully communicate and express their emotions through words. It’s an easy to follow picture book that speaks the universal language of friendship but will teach young readers a bunch of new phrases in Spanish and/or English. It’s a fun read for kids and families and you can learn more about it in my full review of How Are You? / ¿Comó estás?
Señorita Mariposa, by Ben Gundersheimer and illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero
This fantastic bilingual books is filled with rhymes that tell about the extraordinary journey of a monarch butterfly. I personally love that this colorfully illustrated picture book introduces kids to the butterfly life cycle and explains their annual migration as a way to foster consciousness about the importance of protecting our planet. Kid-friendly fonts make it easy to follow the text on each page as little readers practice reading skills in two languages. An author’s note at the back of the book includes tons of facts about the life of monarch butterflies. A great story to share in two languages and you can learn more about it by reading my full review of Señorita Mariposa.
The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas, by José M. Hernández and illustrated by Steven James Petruccio
What better way to celebrate our Hispanic history and culture than through an inspiring memoir told in two languages. This wonderful picture book tells the real story of José, a U.S.-born son of migrant farmworkers, who didn’t speak English until he was 12 but swore he’d realize his dream of becoming an astronaut. José faces many challenges throughout his life but goes on to achieve his ultimate dream of becoming an astronaut through his dedication, hard work, and perseverance. It’s a powerful story for kids and families to read together as it encourages young kids to pursue their own dreams.
I love that this book shares such an important message and gives Latino kids the opportunity to identify with important stories within our American history, most specifically the important contributions made by Latinos. The end of the book also provides brief bios in Spanish and English for both the author José M. Hernández and illustrator Steven James Petruccio. Learn more about this inspiring biographical story told in English and Spanish by reading my full review of The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas.
My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras, by René Colato LaÍnez and illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck
This is poignant bilingual picture book inspired but the author’s own journey across three borders while traveling to the United States as a young boy. Each page is beautifully illustrated and brings to light the experiences of many young children and their families who travel from Central America to the United States in search of a better life. Considering recent outrage and nonstop news and social media coverage about conditions at the border, it’s been difficult knowing just how to talk to kids about immigration and news of family separation. This book can serve as a great conversation starter for families to talk about what it’s like for immigrant kids crossing the border into the United States. It’s also an excellent story to read with immigrant children who may relate to similar experiences, or for others who may be curious about what it’s like to cross the border into the U.S. This story beautifully illustrates some of the challenges that immigrant kids face as they journey across the border, why they leave home, and what they hope for when coming to a new country.
Short sentences, repetition, running metaphors, and sound effects make this and engaging story for kids to read in Spanish and English. After all, immigration is very much part of our Hispanic Heritage and we need our kids to understand that as we celebrate this month. To learn more about this timely story, check out my full review of My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders / Mis Zapatos y Yo: Cruzando Tres Fronteras
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López
Although not a bilingual picture book, this beautiful historical story is well worth a read. It tells an important and inspirational story of a little girl’s bravely, her musical talents, and her important contribution towards equality in the arts. It’s based on the true story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy whose family came to America from Venezuela during the Civil War. Teresa’s story is part of our Hispanic Heritage as she quickly became known as the “Piano Girl” here in the United States, playing enormous theaters alongside great orchestras, and eventually becoming a famous pianist who was later invited to the White House to play for Abraham Lincoln and his entire family.
This is a fantastic story to share with bilingual kids as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, especially for those young readers who may need a little inspiration or be uncertain of how their unique talents can have a great impact on others, especially as Latinos growing up in the United States. Read more about Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played for President Lincoln by reading my full book review on Common Sense Media.
My hope is that you will read and love each of the stories in these bilingual picture books to celebrate Hispanic heritage as much as we do! Reading in Spanish is not just a great way to celebrate our culture. It’s also a great way to continue building bilingual literacy, support your kids as they learn a new language, and also learn some important lessons from our Hispanic-American ancestors. Espero que los disfruten! Happy reading!
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