10 Spanish-Language and Bilingual Books for Transitional Readers to Enjoy

These 10 Spanish-language and bilingual early readers are perfect for early elementary kids starting to read independently.

These 10 Spanish-language and bilingual early readers are perfect for early elementary kids starting to read independently.

Ferrari, A.G. Me gusta mi bici. tr. from English by Eida del Risco. illus. by A.G. Ferrari. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). ­Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451920. SP
PreS-Gr 1
–On a busy highway, a black-haired girl pedals her bicycle with all her might. The road has all types of vehicles, a yellow three-story bus filled with animal passengers, a blue limousine with a shark passenger, a red car driven by a dog, and a cheese truck driven by a mouse. This ­Spanish edition of I Like My Bike offers a clever and lighthearted plot highlighting ways to defeat traffic congestion. Ferrari builds a straightforward narrative with one-line black text repeating the phrase “me gusta” or “I like” while providing the names of the different types of motor vehicles found in this story. The artwork conveys the text with humor and digitally enhanced curved-line pencil drawings that supplement a sense of movement. The book’s anthropomorphism is reinforced with smiling driver animals who interact with humans participating in the story with expressive attitudes. This would be a great choice for preschool story time about motor vehicles. VERDICT A Spanish-language early reader that will connect with preschool-age children with lively and humorous illustrations of their favorite vehicles.

Janovitz, Marilyn. Un gol más. tr. from English by Eida del Risco. illus. by Marilyn Janovitz. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451982. SP
PreS-Gr 1–A group of diverse children are playing soccer but exclude May, until a boy includes her in the game. As the kids pass the soccer ball, defend, and score goals, one player realizes the importance of team play. This Spanish version of Score One More provides a great jumping-off point to address teamwork for young children. Janovitz offers a straightforward plot built on one- and two-line sentences, set in a medium black font. Although the Spanish text will help emergent readers with simple vocabulary, the syntax lacks the natural flow of a well-defined sentence structure. Pastel yellows and sky blues have a strong presence on the pages; full-spread illustrations on a white or light green background provides a fresh springtime ambiance that correlates with the soccer scene of the plot. The artwork moves organically, following a logical sequence that relates to the story and expresses the text’s meaning. This early reader book may be read during a school story time highlighting the value of collaborative play. VERDICT With a teamwork theme that emphasizes playing nicely with all friends, this early reader will resonate with young children who are experiencing cooperative and social play at school.

Long, Ethan. Caballo y Mosca: !Pintalo! tr. from English by Eida del Risco. illus. by Ethan Long. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451975. SP
–Caballo wants to paint a mural, but he is not organized. His friend Mosca tells him that he has not thought it through and needs a plan. Caballo resists the advice, but as the plot advances, he realizes that Mosca might be right. Long offers a humorous installment in the “Caballo y Mosca” series. This Spanish edition of Paint It Out is set in large black font placed in rectangular speech bubbles accompanying the two characters in this story. The narrative is built with simple Spanish terms and some vocabulary words that are highlighted by the ­artwork. The illustrations, set in panels, move the narrative forward, utilizing sky blue and tertiary colors as background. Long’s use of colors emphasizes the theme of this story and expresses the mood of the characters in this book. Although this early reader book’s central theme is about preparedness, the painting aspect may be used in a preschool unit about colors. This book might also be used in a Spanish story time where preschool children will have fun with the stubborn horse and the helpful fly. VERDICT A colorful and humorous early reader book to introduce the concept of preparation when engaging in a project.

McKay, Sindy. The Four Seasons/Las c­uatro estaciones. 44p. (We Both Read). ­Treasure Bay. Jun. 2022. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781601150417. BL
Gr 2-4–This informational book introduces primary grade readers to the seasons. Each chapter centers on one of the four seasons apart from chapter one, which examines general features of the changing seasons, and chapter six, which recapitulates the benefits of having different seasons. The narrative is built on sentences that teach facts rather than on prose, a framework that works well with the literal Spanish translation. This book is designed to be read between a caregiver and a child who is a close to proficient reader. The text for the caregiver to read is on the left-hand side set to longer paragraphs over a pastel background, and the text for the child is on the right-hand side, set to two or three sentences over a white background. The paragraphs contain some bold vocabulary words in both languages to help readers relate to the text. This asymmetrical setting is accompanied by close-up, colorful iStock photography that complements the text as readers learn about each season. Although the author mentions México and Hawaii, most images capture the seasons from the northern hemisphere’s viewpoint with snowy winters, forestry autumns, and dates that do not correlate with the change of seasons in the southern hemisphere. The back matter contains a glossary defining the solstices, equinoxes, and questions to engage readers. VERDICT A colorful, early reader book that will teach primary grade children facts about the changing seasons in the northern hemisphere.

McKay, Sindy. Kecko the Gecko/Kecko el gecko. illus. by Meredith Johnson. 44p. (We Both Read). Treasure Bay. Jun. 2022. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781601150493. BL
Gr 2-4
–Matt and his new crested gecko, Kecko, are sad because they do not want to be apart from each other on Matt’s first day of school. Matt has an idea—take Kecko to school hidden in his backpack. In Matt’s classroom, Kecko runs away, causing ­upheaval among the classmates and a baffled teacher. This bilingual English-Spanish early reader covers the familiar theme of a mischievous pet taken to a classroom. The English language text is laid out above its Spanish counterpart. The word-by-word Spanish translation provides a faithful transcription of the English narrative, with some bolded terms to introduce vocabulary in both languages. Still, it lacks the flow of the natural Spanish language. The “Junie B. Jones” like artwork utilizes diverse characters with drawings that express the meaning of the text, helping young readers decode the plot of the story. This book is meant to be approached as a read-aloud story directing parents to read the lengthier text on the left-hand pages and signaled with a blue dot. Children may read the mostly two-line text on the right-hand pages signaled with a red star. This humorous early reader could be used in a bilingual English and Spanish story time or a school unit covering lizard species. VERDICT A playful, easy read-aloud story ideal for emergent readers.

McPhail, David. Perro malo. tr. from ­English by Eida del Risco. illus. by David McPhail. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). ­Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451951. SP
PreS-Gr 1
–A young boy loves his adorable but mischievous little dog Tom when it is good and when it’s in trouble. Tom pulls on the tablecloth to grab the family’s food, chases Kit, the family’s cat, around the house, or makes the garbage can tumble. However, Tom is also a loving dog who helps the family find Kit when she is ­missing. In this early reader based on Bad Dog, McPhail offers a straightforward narrative built on one to three sentences, set to medium black font. He uses a mixture of speech bubbles to represent the thoughts of Mom, Dad, and Sister and background text to describe the boy’s account. The simple plot is built with easy Spanish terms and text repetition for the phrase “perro malo” (bad dog) which is, sadly, used too much in the story by the father and mother. The pen-and-ink and watercolor artwork, mostly set on a white background, is set to a smooth color palette with curved lines that provide movement to the expressive illustrations. Every character’s mood is delineated, fluctuating between being upset at Tom and thankful when he leads them to Kit. VERDICT This early reader about behavior will connect with young kids who will interpret the body and facial expressions of the characters and understand the narrative through the visuals.

Orshoski, Paul. My Sitter Is a T-Rex!/Mi niñera es un T-Rex! illus. by Jeffrey Ebbeler. 44p. (We Both Read). Treasure Bay. Jun. 2022. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781601150455. BL
Gr 1-2
–A boy feels anxious when his parents go to a show and arrange a babysitter service. Little do they know that when the doorbell rings, they will be welcoming a cheerful and rather giant babysitter, a T. rex named Sue. The boy’s apprehension does not cease, and he runs away scared when Sue wants to play. The clumsy dinosaur babysitter unintentionally wreaks havoc in the house. Using a humorous plot, this bilingual early reader offers a witty story line that highlights the anxiety some children experience when left with babysitters. The rhyming narrative is built in a dual read- aloud framework where caregivers read the left-hand pages, signaled by a blue dot and smaller font, and the children read the right-hand pages, signaled by a red star and larger font. The Spanish translation flows nicely but does not convey the rhyming nature of its counterpart. Although the text setting feels crowded, it complements the illustrations. The artwork emphasizes Sue’s towering size and gentle demeanor as the boy warms up to her with analogous colors of orange, yellow, yellow-green, and green. This early reader is perfect for students who are comfortable with more complex vocabulary words and welcome the challenge of learning and reading in Spanish. VERDICT A lighthearted, straightforward early reader for primary grade children who enjoy humorous dinosaur stories and a hint of ­vocabulary challenge.

Rockwell, Lizzy. Me encantan los insectos. tr. from English by Eida del Risco. illus. by Lizzy Rockwell. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451968. SP
PreS-Gr 1
–A Black girl loves insects, but this love is not shared by her friend. First grade students will learn that bees carry ­pollen, which helps plants grow, and that ants ­aerate the soil by digging tunnels. Readers will also learn that some insects harm plants and that insects are a part of the ecosystem. Based on I Love Insects, this edition offers a relatable story with some facts about insects in the early reader format story. Rockwell builds a simple narrative ­using from one to four sentences in a black font, emphasizing different features present in insects. The artwork, created with colored pencil, gouache and watercolor in a soft palette, conveys the story through the facial expression of the two human characters. The full-spread detailed illustrations enhance the narrative, helping readers understand the meaning of the text. Children will connect with the colorful illustrations and characters who move the story forward. Two important values underscored in this plot are the girl’s sense of inquiry to learn more about a topic she likes and the boy’s change of heart at the end of the story. This book could be read in a school time activity to reinforce a unit about insects. The back matter contains the drawings of the insects covered in the story. VERDICT An engaging Spanish-language and STEM-based early reader for preschool-age children who like (and even dislike) insects.

Ross, Dev. Frank and the Giant/Sapi y el gigante. illus. by Larry Reinhart. 44p. (We Both Read). Treasure Bay. Jun. 2022. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781601150479. BL
PreS-Gr 1
–A cheerful frog called Frank is playing ball with his friends Mikey the mouse and Debbie the duck when the ball goes flying into the house of a giant. What a predicament! However, Frank is not one to be afraid, so he enters the house and finds a big surprise. This is bilingual early reader edition of Frank and the Giant by television screenwriter Ross. The lighthearted plot is built in a dual read-aloud framework where the caregiver reads the left-hand pages of the book, signaled by a blue dot, and the beginning reader reads the right-hand pages, signaled by a red star. This structure is highlighted with smaller font for the bilingual narrative read by the proficient reader and a bolded and larger font for the phrases with the red star. The mostly literal Spanish translation, set below the English text, flows well, emphasizing, like its English counterpart, a sense of suspense through the phrase “puedes adivinar?” (can you guess?) that takes the child to the bold text on each one of the right-hand pages. The colorful and eloquent artwork helps readers find clues to understand the narrative. This early reader could be used during preschool story time or a read-aloud activity at home. VERDICT A delightful, early reader book that will bring some laughs and enjoyment to a read-aloud activity.

Russo, Christopher. A gato le gusta el rojo. tr. from English by Eida del Risco. illus. by Christopher Russo. 32p. (¡Me gusta leer!). Holiday House. Jul. 2022. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780823451944. SP
PreS –A curious and playful brown cat goes out into the surrounding countryside, encountering a red ladybug, a yellow bee, a green gecko, a blue fish, a pink butterfly, an orange kitty, and a black bird. This Spanish edition of Cat Likes Red is a celebration of colors for young children. Author and illustrator Russo offers mostly full-spread monochromatic illustrations depicting different scenes from a farm, the ocean, and neighboring landscapes with background colors that match the colors being introduced to children. The narrative is built on two short one-line sentences, set in medium-large black font, that repeat with each of the seven colors covered in the book. The text repetition pattern (a gato le gusta) will invite prereaders to join in and notice the highlighted word signaling the color presented. This early reader shows a well-balanced organization, suggesting a story line that commences in the morning and concludes at night with a bright full moon gleaming through the window when the cat is finally resting inside its home. VERDICT A delightful early reader book about colors that will be a fun choice for preschoolers.

Kathia Ibacache is the romance languages librarian at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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