Vamos a leer! Let’s read!

My own baby started a dual-language immersion kindergarten program this month.  My husband is most excited about her learning to read; I am most excited about her chance to be exposed to more Spanish; she is most excited about eating in the cafeteria.

We have homework every night – it is never just her homework as it really involves her and a grown-up no matter the assignment.  There is a standing assignment to read aloud for 20 or more minutes each day.  

Reading has always been part of our bedtime routine.  And because she needs reinforcement of all the Spanish she is learning at school, I have been able to pull out our many Spanish-language and bilingual books from our ever-expanding collection.

The following are some of our family’s top libros de español:
(Please note that the following contain affiliate links.)


Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family
By Cynthia Weill, cartonería by Jesús Canseco Zárate, photography by David Hilbert

I found this one at On Main, Off Main just a few days before the fall term started – what a perfect first day of school gift!  Big sister Anita introduces her family in English and Spanish.  The photographs are of figures made of cartonería, a Mexican style of papier-mâché.


Hairs/Pelitos
By Sandra Cisneros, illustrations by Terry Ybañez

This book is adapted from The House on Mango Street.  The narrator talks about the different hair her family members each have – straight up like a broomstick, limp and slick, curly and sweet smelling…  The narrative ends with everyone snug in bed – perfect for bedtime reading.


Un sillón para mi mamá (A Chair for My Mother)
By Vera B. Williams (No translator listed)

A young girl recounts how she, her mother and grandmother saved up for a new chair after they lost everything in a fire.  I also love that this one ends with the girl falling asleep with her mother.  This book was honored with the 1983 Caldecott Medal.


Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhymes
By Margot C. Griego, Betsy L. Bucks, Sharon S. Gilbert , Laurel H. Kimball
Illustrations by Barbara Cooney

We actually still own the copy my mother read to my sister and I as children.  My favorite continues to be “La Mariposa”.  Cooney’s illustrations are beautiful and complete the imagery.  Be aware that some pages are no longer politically correct.  For instance, “Soy Chiquita, Soy Bonita” ends with the girl stating she would get beat for getting her dress dirty – we used to read just the first couplet, now I paperclip the pages together.


123 Si!: An Artistic Counting Book in English and Spanish
San Antonio Public Library Foundation, San Antonio Museum of Art

This is just one of a series of board books published by this special collaboration of the SA Public Library Foundation, the SA Museum of Art and Trinity University Press.  Home grown always makes me happy.  The art featured throughout the series is actually from the SAMA collection, from artists/artisans across the globe and throughout history.


The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story
By Rudolfo Anaya, translation by Enrique R. Lamadrid, illustrations by Amy Córdova

In this book, young Jade just knows she has to help her village – can she get the great mountain spirits to send water?


Azul el sombrero, verde el sombrero (Blue Hat, Green Hat)
By Sandra Boynton, translation by Argentina Palacios Ziegler

Boynton’s illustrations are delightful!  When I discovered that several had been translated into Spanish, I was over the moon.  We read this and Muu. Beee. ¡Así fue! so many times when Minnie was little that I can now recite them even when the English book is in front of me.


Fiesta!
By Ginger Foglesong Guy, pictures by René King Moreno

The kids work together to prepare for a party, while readers learn their numeros.

Honorable Mention:

My Food / Mi Comida
By Rebecca Emberly
Paper collage illustrations always make me nostalgic. Several older editions of childbirth education materials used paper collage, as did several textbooks I, myself, had in elementary school. Emberly has put together board book primers – not story books. A simple word is presented in Spanish and English per page. There are books on clothing, school, numbers, animals and more. We have been revisiting My School/Mi Escuela a lot in the last few weeks.

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