Aug 232012

Mother and Daughter Reading Together - How to Find Books in Spanish for Your Toddler - Alldonemonkey.comLooking for some good books in Spanish to read with your toddler?

First, the good news: There are so many more Spanish-language books available in non-Spanish speaking countries than ever before.  Our library has a section dedicated to Spanish children’s books, as does our local bookstore.  And of course, there is the internet, which puts an entire library of books at your fingertips.

The bad news?  You’ll still have to do more legwork to find quality materials than you will with English books.  Oh, and that “library” at your fingertips?  Most of it is available for a price (more of a bookstore than a library).

But don’t be discouraged!  There are lots of wonderful resources available to help you find Spanish books you can share with your little ones.  Here’s how to get started:Boy Reading with Mother - How to Find Books in Spanish for Your Toddler -

1. Ask your librarian.  Those that know me know that I am a HUGE fan of libraries and librarians.  They are one of our greatest untapped resources.  Many people don’t realize that most librarians have advanced degrees in library and information science: yes, an entire science dedicated to helping you find the books and resources you want!  What could be better?  So don’t let all that education go to waste!  Your librarians don’t just shelves the books, they select them, meaning they have gone through catalogs and catalogs of available books to find the ones they think are the best.  They will be able to help you find good books for your child in Spanish and recommend other resources as well.  If you can find the children’s librarian, then you have really hit the jackpot, because they are the ones in charge of selecting the children’s books and other media.

Also, ask about events at your library.  Ours sponsors storytimes, including ones in Spanish.  If there is not a Spanish storytime at your branch, there may be one at another location.  The same holds true for books – often branches within a metropolitan library system will specialize a bit, catering to the population of their neighborhoods.  So a library in a part of town with a large Spanish-speaking population will often have a larger collection of Spanish-language materials.  You may want to make a special trip to browse in person and talk to the librarians there, though you should also be able to access the materials by requesting them through your local branch.

Family reading - How to Find Books in Spanish for Your Toddler -

2. Go abroad.  The truth is one of the easiest ways to get a good book in another language is by visiting a country where that language is spoken.  Taking a trip?  Try to stop by a

local bookstore.  If possible, try to find books printed in that country.  Be aware that some stores may specialize in local books, while others (often large commercial bookstores) tend to carry the more well-known titles from other countries, including books translated from English.  This is especially the case in smaller countries, such as Costa Rica, which have smaller printing industries.  (Many Spanish-language materials come from Spain, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, among others).

And if you aren’t able to travel yourself, ask friends to pick up some books for you when they go abroad.

3. Search the internet. You can search the catalog of most local libraries from their websites.  In the “Advanced Search” option, just change the default language setting to “Spanish.”  You can also find books by searching large sites like Amazon, although the vast majority of these are books translated from English into Spanish.  If possible, it is better to find a guide such as this one from the University of Illinois, which can point you to quality resources.  You can also search in sites such as the International Children’s Digital LibraryKeep in mind that if you find a book that you like online but are hesitant to spend the money to buy it, search for the title in your library’s catalog, as it may already be there.  If it isn’t, mention it to your librarians and see if they will purchase it!  They are always happy to know about great books.

4. Follow the leads. Once you have found some books that you like, look for more by the same author or printing press.  The same tip is true for books in English – I have found some of my little Monkey’s favorite books this way!Young girl with books - How to Find Books in Spanish for Your Toddler -

A few caveats

As mentioned before, be aware that many books in Spanish that you will find in English-speaking countries are actually translated from English.  While some may have a problem with this, it does have its advantages.  If you have a bilingual kid that you are trying to keep interested in Spanish books, having a book of his favorite characters (such as Clifford or  Cat in the Hat) in Spanish may do the trick.  Just know that there are many bad translations out there – another reason to stick with authors and printing presses that you trust.

Also, depending on where the book was published, you will encounter regional variations in the Spanish.  For the most part this is not very noticeable, but we have definitely run across this.  It is especially obvious in books about colors or food.  For example, many countries use “marrón” for “brown,” although in Costa Rica it is “café.”  And names for fruits and vegetable especially vary quite a bit.  This might be a little confusing for children when they are very young, but when they are older it can also be a fun way to teach them about the different regions in Latin America.

Happy reading, everyone!  Qué disfruten de leer con sus hijos!

What are your favorite resources for finding Spanish books for your children?  For those of you that read to your children in another language, such as French or Chinese, how are your strategies different or the same?

This post has been shared at Mother Daughter Book Review’s Kid Lit Blog Hop, Living Life Intentionally’s TGIF Linky Party, The Magic Onions’ Friday Nature Table, Say Not Sweet Anne’s Sweet Sharing Monday, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop, the Culture Swapper, and the August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism.

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  45 Responses to “Finding Books in Spanish for Your Toddler”

  1. Useful-we are looking for German books. Thank you for the ideas.

    • Thank you, hope it helps! I would love to hear more about your experiences once you are able to do some searching. I am really curious about how things are different or the same with different languages.

  2. I loved the English-Spanish picture dictionaries we used when I was a kid. They stayed on the shelves for a long time!

  3. Great ideas. Thank you for sharing them. We are lucky that our library has a very nice sized Spanish children’s book collection.

  4. Great post! Thanks for touching on the regional variations in the Spanish, that is so true! Being Puerto Rican in Arizona where a lot of the Spanish speaking population is Mexican has taught us a great deal on that! Amazing how one word can mean two totally different things. We have found so many great bilingual books at our local library and school book fairs, we have been lucky. Of course I also pick them up whenever we visit Puerto Rico, of course 😉

    • Liz, I would be curious to know what some of the differences are that you’ve encountered! That’s wonderful that you have good sources for bilingual books locally and that you are able to get some in Puerto Rico as well. Thanks for mentioning the school book fairs! My son is not school age yet, so they weren’t on my radar. Thanks for stopping by!

      • One clear difference that stands out is the word “chavo”. For Puerto Ricans that is how we refer to coins, change, money, etc. In the Mexican dialect it refers to a kid or child. Imagine our surprise when we thought someone was looking for their change/money and in reality they were looking for their child 😀

        • Liz, how funny! That must have been quite a misunderstanding! When I was in Bolivia, they only knew the word “chavo” from the Mexican TV show “Chavo del Ocho” and only had a vague sense that it might be something more than just a nickname. It wasn’t until I returned home to the US and met some friends from Guatemala that I learned that “chavo/a” was often used to mean boy or girl – even a teenager.

          Thanks for sharing! I don’t know much about Puerto Rican Spanish, so it’s fun to learn!

  5. I am the children’s librarian at my branch. Unfortunately, I don’t select any books. We have a whole department dedicated to maintaining our library’s collection. I have a minor in French, so I have some favorite children’s books in French. Those seem to be easier to find. I take full advantage of InterLibrary Loan, which is free through my library. I get great suggestions from Goodreads. Visiting from TGIF…

    • Miss Courtney, thank you for the clarification! Though children’s librarians may not select the books, I’m sure they know them well and so would be able to help direct patrons to good foreign-language materials. Thank you for the tips!

  6. This was a great post. We are doing Spanish this year in our homeschool and I have found the library to be a wonderful source of books, we actually have a section for children’s books in Spanish so I can go right to that shelf. I love the tip about getting books abroad and using friends travels to add to your bookshelf!

  7. Just stopping by from the weekend blog walk to say hi.

  8. […] Finding Books in Spanish for Your Toddler? Leanna of All Done Monkey! will tell you how. First, ask your librarian. Second, go abroad. Third, search the Internet, and last, follow the leads. But Leanna’s article has much more juice. You got to read it! […]

  9. Fantastic ideas! We are starting to learn Spanish in our homeschool this year and I plan to put our local library to good use. Thank you for linking up this week to my Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop!

  10. […] of articles from all over the web on raising kids to be bilingual.  In addition to our post on Finding Books in Spanish for Your Toddler, you can also read about everything from games to build vocabulary, reflections on whether to push […]

  11. What a great post! So many people want to add another language, but are unsure where to start so they end up missing out on introducing it in the early years. Thanks for linking up at TGIF! I featured it this week: I hope you’ll come by and link up again this week =-)

  12. Definitely some great ideas! My sons attends a bilingual charter school and his teachers use Tumble Books,Reading AZ, There are also some great websites like: and a few others that are eluding me. Finally, I usually search Pinterest’s education page and they happen to have Spanish ideas/books to follow. Here is a bilingual teacher who I enjoy ready:


  13. Great Post!!! I have used my library to look for books in Spanish, and their selection is very small. The librarian at the children’s section knows us, however; I will have to suggest for more books in Spanish. Thanks!

  14. We’re always searching for resources for learning other languages such as Hindi and Russian with both our families. It’s hard to find but spanish books are a little more common here in the states. Just shared your ideas on on Bilingual Babies Pinterest Board.

    • Thank you! That is such a great Pinterest board! And yes, we are lucky that our second language is Spanish; here in the US it’s much easier to find resources in Spanish than in most other languages. I have seen a few kids’ books in our library in Russian, but I don’t think I’ve seen any in Hindi!

  15. My husband took Spanish in high school, but I went with German (it’s where my family is from), so while Dora is a refresher for him, I’m learning right along with Max! It’ll be nice to have books to help even more with our Spanish-speaking.

    Thanks for the paragraph on librarians. They are definitely good for a lot! We tried storytime last week but one of us couldn’t hold still (ahem, not me!). We’ll be back, though.

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  16. Hi Leanna, Hope everything is going well with you and that you are having a nice weekend. Thanks so much for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Glad you are still participating! I’ve tweeted your post to my followers. Cheers!

  17. These are some good tips. I live in NYC so our libraries have a large selection of books in different languages.

  18. […] you all know, I love bilingual books, especially ones that are as fun to read as Runaway Radish/El Rabano Que Escapo by Janice Levy.  […]

  19. Thanks for all the great ideas about how to find books up here in Canada. Up until now I’ve just been buying books in Colombia whenever we visit and bringing them back, but that takes up precious space in our already-full bags!

    • Thank you! Yes, we still look for books when we are in Costa Rica, but it’s always hard to find room to bring them back!

  20. […] you’re not sure how to find great books in the minority language, ask Leanna of All Done Monkey! In her post, she gives you some ideas where to start looking for good quality books in the […]

  21. […] instance when this tends to happen is at bedtime. We have had a lot of luck finding books in Spanish for the boys to read, but of course many of their books are in English. And so, at night Monkey is […]

  22. […] Finding quality children’s in Spanish can be a challenge, though thankfully much less so than in the past.  Here are some of our favorites, plus don’t miss my tips for finding books in Spanish for your kids: […]

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