Diving into Another Language Through Picture Books
Dek can speak Spanish. Nothing is cuter than hearing the words “dinosaurio” or “muy suaves” coming out of my little boy’s mouth. Is he fluent? Hardly. Will he be chattering away with native speakers any time soon? Not likely. What he is doing is hearing new sounds. He is mimicking the words just like he does in English. He is seeing that there are different ways to talk about his very favorite things; dinosaurs, trucks and trains.
I studied Spanish in my high school years, but never got much beyond that. I’ve picked up a class here and there when I can, but never became bilingual. Basically I can speak at a 5-year-old level, but it’s probably less than that. I can say hello and thank you, find out how much something is and haggle down the cost. Just speak slowly to me. My brain is losing its ability to translate with each passing year.
I’ve found some great books that Dek loves, chief among them being a series by Usbourne Books. Este no es mi dinosaurio and Este no es mi coche are two of our favorites. These books follow the model of Pat the Bunny by incorporating lots of textures. I love the different materials used because it helps me figure out what the heck the books are saying. The board books can hold up to teething infants and not so gentle toddlers. There are very few words on a page so we can both grasp the thought the author is throwing at us.
Another trick I have found is to buy a book in Spanish that we already have in English. Dek and I have both memorized most of the Sandra Boyton series of books. When I picked up Buenos Noches A Todos (The Going to Bed Book) it wasn’t as foreign to Dek because he was already familiar with the pictures and what was going on in story.
Dek still looks at me a little funny when I speak or read to him in Spanish. He tries to get me to switch back to English. I don’t blame him. My accent isn’t the best in the world even after growing up with a large number of Puerto Ricans. But he is hearing it. He is seeing there is a connection to what I am saying and what is on the page. I know there are probably better ways to go about teaching him Spanish, but he did learn an awful lot of English through the books I read him. I figure this is as good a place as any to start. It’s free, it’s easy and we have fun together doing it. What more could a mama ask for?
A Few of the Spanish Language Books On Our Shelf:
- Books available in English and Spanish
- Buenos Noches A Todos by Sandra Boyton
- ¡Toca, toca! Este no es mi dinosaurio… and ¡Toca, toca! Este no es mi coche… by Fiona Watt, illustrations by Rachel Wells
- Huevos Verdes con Jamon by Dr. Seuss (Green Eggs and Ham)
- El Gato En El Sombrero by Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat)
- Buenos Noches Luna by Margaret Wise Brown/ illustrated by Clement Hurd (Good Night Moon)
- Clifford Al Rescate by Norman Bridwell (Clifford to the Rescue)
- Madeline: Edicion en espanol by Ludwig Bemelmans
- ¿Come comen los dinosaurios? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
- Bilingual Books
- Vocabulary Books
- My First Spanish Word Board Book/ Mi Primer libro de palabras en espanol (DK Publishing)
If Spanish is not your preferred language look for books in the one you would like to try. The Usbourne series comes in French, Dutch, Portuguese and Italian. I’ve also seen Dr. Seuss books in French. Do a little digging. You will be surprised just how much you can find out there.