The day I found out I was pregnant, I had a ton of questions, but the one thing I was certain about was that we were going to raise our child in a bilingual environment. I'm from Argentina and Spanish is my first language, my husband is from the United States and his first language is in English. While we both communicate in English, I switched 100% to Spanish once our son was born.
Soon people were sending us presents, many of which were books, and I realized all of them were in English. If we really wanted our son to be bilingual, we had to include some Spanish books in the mix, but I wasn't sure where to start.
So after endless hours of research and a ton of money spent, these are the best books to help raise your child bilingual:
First 100 Lift-the-Flap Bilingual First Words
This is a great start to introduce both languages to a baby. You can show them how the same thing can be said differently so they start associating words with images. Plus, it helps the non-Spanish-speaking parent learn some words in Spanish at the same time, a win-win for the family!
Besos for baby
This is a top three favorite in our home. The book teaches little ones words in both languages by the use of repetition. They are introduced to family members like mamá and dad, perro y cat and also things around us like sol and flowers. The illustrations are adorable and you won't get tired of reading it over and over again.
¿Dónde está el coquí?
This book tells the story of a little singing frog, Coquí, and their adventures with other exotic animals. It helps children learn how to count, recognize colors, understand perspective, all while introducing typical Latin American and Caribbean environments.
El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale
I might be biased here, but who doesn't love a cute story involving a dog? Especially if it has a sombrero on its head.
I Like It When . . . / Me gusta cuando . . .
This book follows the adventures of a little penguin doing his favorite things, while introducing concepts in both English and Spanish. The book never specifies if the big penguin is a parent, a grandparent or a caregiver, which makes it ideal for anyone who takes care of the little ones to read with them and feel seen.
Buenas noches, Gorila
This book made the list because, although it has a lot of pages without text, it can help parents describe the zoo setting in Spanish and show children different and new words. Also, the gorilla is adorable!
The life of Selena
Lil' Libros has a ton of board books for children, however this is my favorite because it introduces some context to the images shown, something that the other books lack. Also, Selena is an iconic and beloved artist in Latinx culture and it's truly heartwarming to see this book keep her story alive.
Buenas noches, luna
Every single parent has been stuck reading Goodnight Moon in a loop right before bed time. This version is a translation of the original, with the same iconic images that little ones already know. At home, we alternate reading them so we don't gravitate towards one language more often than the other.
Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History
This book introduces Latinas who made history in many diverse fields (like medicine, music, sports, arts and politics.) With rhythm and rhyme, children will not only learn words in Spanish but also start to learn some of the history behind these iconic women. And hopefully they will be inspired to be bold!
Frida Kahlo and her animalitos
This book's narration is mostly in English—with some Spanish mixed in—but it's a great way to introduce children to the life of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It's more than just a picture book, which is great for older children. Plus, it's filled with her favorite animals throughout the pages, something children always like to look at. This book can also be found fully in Spanish.
Harry, el perrito sucio
I'm going to admit that there are a couple of grammatical errors in this translation, however Harry the Dog is such a favorite in our household that we still purchased all of his adventures in both languages. So, if you are fluent in Spanish, make sure to sharpie out the mistakes before reading out loud. 😁
A Lola le encantan los cuentos
There's a whole series of Lola and her adventures, and you can get both versions in English and Spanish for each parent to read.
Tengo diez deditos
This dual language book is awesome to teach little ones their body parts in both languages at the same time. I'm proud to say our son knows what pies and feet are thanks to this book!
La oruga muy hambrienta
This very-easy-to-read bilingual version of an all-time classic, comes with the story in both languages on the same page, so you can teach your kid words in both languages at the same time.
Adivina cuanto te quiero
This adorable story helps children learn how to express their feelings, especially love, with those around them. Also, as a mom, this story just melts my heart away!
This book is perfect for Grandma to read with the hids, or, if she's physically far away, for parents to keep the image of her alive. In this story, grandma and granddaughter go out in an adventure in New York City. It's narrated mostly in English with some Spanish sprinkled all around.
El monstruo de los colores
This book is incredible to help children express their feelings when they don't have the words for them yet. What better than to teach them their feelings in both languages?
La frontera: El viaje con papa
For slightly older children, La Frontera tells the tale of a young boy and his father on a daring journey from Mexico to Texas to find a new life. The story is told in Spanish and English on each page.
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