These three stories from Barefoot Books have a prince or princess and a charming fairy tale setting. They also have original characters with contemporary attitudes that are sure to enchant native Spanish speakers and language learners alike. El desayuno del príncipe, El príncipe no duerme and Una princesa real: Un cuento matemágico are all available from Amazon. They are excellent translations of The Prince’s Breakfast, The Prince’s Bedtime and The Real Princess.
El desayuno del príncipe and El príncipe no duerme are both cuentos infantile, or Spanish stories for kids, by Joanne Oppenheim, with playful illustrations by Miriam Latimer. Parents and children alike will appreciate the common dilemmas presented in these books, the increasing desperation of the king and queen and the simple logic of the solutions.
Native speakers will love these cuentos infantiles, but the stories also have features that make them an excellent choice to read with Spanish learners.
Cuentos Infantiles and Spanish Learners
– The stories have rhyming text that helps children predict sounds and learn vocabulary.
– There is a close text-to-illustration correspondence that clarifies the meaning of key words.
– Both these cuentos infantiles are pattern stories. Kids know the problem and know that different characters are trying to solve it. They can predict that the prince will not sleep, or will not eat, and that various attempts to help will be unsuccessful. This structure helps children understand new language because they know it corresponds to the pattern.
– The stories include vocabulary associated with bedtime and mealtime. The stories are anchored in these two routines, and the language reflects that.
In El desayuno del príncipe children hear hora de comer, huevos, pan tostado, tenedor, tortillas, arroz, salsa, queso. In addition, throughout the story the prince repeats no quiero – a useful phrase that will delight little Spanish learners.
In El príncipe no duerme children hear the verb dormir in many structures and tenses: dormirse, dormir a este niño, durmió, durmieron, como duermen. They also hear related vocabulary like cansancio, bostezando, and cuando cierre los ojos.
– Both of these cuentos infantiles have lots of new vocabulary for Spanish learners. The language can be simplified initially and parents and teachers can add in more new words as kids know the story.
Also new in Spanish this year, Barefoot Books has a wonderful story called Una princesa real: Un cuento matemágico, by Brenda Williams, with illustrations by Sophie Fatus. This number-filled story is based on the classic story of The Princess and the Pea. In a wonderful contemporary twist on the story, the perfect match does not have to be a perfect princess, and the perfect princess is not a predictable fairy tale character, but rather a woman with a life and mind of her own.
The author has woven numbers and counting into this story in a delightful way. The familiar story, the numbers, and the patterns give Spanish learners a base to understand much of the language. There is a lot of vocabulary in the story, so parents and teachers may want to simplify the text at first, depending on the language level of the listeners.
One feature of this story that I particularly love is that at the end of the book there are math questions about the story. These little word problems are a wonderful way to review more than ¿Cuántos/cuántas? They are addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems based on the story, and so they give children learning Spanish an excellent opportunity to reread and rephrase.
All three of these cuentos infantiles are excellent language experiences for both native speakers and Spanish learners. Even more important, they are wonderful stories with characters children and adults will love from the first time reading to the five hundredth.
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Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of these books to be able to write the article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.