These are my favorite bilingual picture books to read to kids. Margaret speaks English and Margarita speaks Spanish and reading aloud the story works! The story line depends on both characters and both languages. It is an ingenious idea and the author, Lynn Reese, managed the concept beautifully to create these two lovely books.
The first book Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret tells the story of how the two girls meet in the park. The second book My Way / A mi manera – A Margaret and Margarita Story is a story of friendship. It tells how these independent girls each have their own way of doing things. Sometimes though, they like to do things the way their best friend does, and they always like to do things together.
Bilingual books can be really tricky to read aloud. In general, my goal is to have children learn Spanish from context and to avoid translation whenever possible. Depending on how dual language books are used, they provide children with different experiences, but they are not necessarily easy to use effectively with Spanish language learners.
The great thing about the Margaret and Margarita books is that both languages create the story in a structure that makes sense. For a Spanish language learner, the English text makes the Spanish clear, but the English is not just a translation. Rather, it is the voice of Margaret, and Spanish is the voice of Margarita.
Margaret and Margarita are from families that speak different languages, but they have many things in common. The experiences they share in English and Spanish will be familiar to readers. Parents and children everywhere will identify with these active, independent characters.
I like the amount of common, practical Spanish in these books. The sentences are short and straightforward, but there are lots of them! For bilingual picture books, they have a substantial amount of text. The narrative and repeated structures keep the meaning of the language clear. Also, the bright illustrations have lots of detail and are carefully crafted to support what Margaret and Margarita are saying.
Both of these books offer children an engaging, effective introduction to Spanish or English. Kids love these girls (the first book has been around since my children were little), and I love reading bilingual books where both languages create the story!