Board books are the best way to get little hands holding books. With focused text and illustrations that support the language, they are perfect for young language learners. These Spanish-English bilingual board books will engage your child and build language skills from the minute you start to read.
When I am looking for board books, I look for books that invite children to interact. From the time they are toddlers, we want children to engage with books, think about the pictures and language, and participate. These 7 bilingual board books are published by Star Bright Books. Through art, language and design, they encourage children to take part in the reading experience.
Arriba y abajo / Up and Down introduces children to opposites. Like other bilingual board books by Catherine Hnatov, it has high contrast illustrations – black and white figures against colorful backgrounds. The full sentences invite children to point and touch the figure that corresponds to the text: El caballo es grande. El gato es pequeño. El gato está adentro. El perro está afuera. This is an excellent way for children to associate the concepts with Spanish words.
Backpack Baby / El bebé de la mochila by Miriam Cohen is another of my favorite bilingual board books. This darling book poses a question: What secret is the baby in the backpack sharing with friends? The secret is revealed at the end of the book, so after the first reading, young readers can participate by whispering the secret too.
Parents can also “guess” a new secret each time they read the book. For example, when the baby whispers the secret – pss-pss-pss – you can whisper Tengo zapatos nuevos. Children love imagining a new secret, so be prepared to read this book over and over!
Interactive books let children participate actively in the story. There are different kinds of interactive books, but I particularly like lift-the-flap books because they are easy for children to open.
In ¿Qué hay en mi armario? / What’s in My Dresser? by Kathleen Rizzi, readers help a little boy find his clothes so he can get dressed. The narrator describes them: Abre las puertas. ¿Dónde está el suéter café? Para este tiempo tan frío es lo que usaré. It is a wonderful structure because on each page he is wearing what the reader found on the page before. The story teaches lots of vocabulary, with an excellent built in review, and children love it!
¿Dónde está el gatito? is one of a series of wonderful lift-the-flap bilingual board books by Cheryl Christian. These books follow a perfect pattern for language learners. They identify two related objects and then ask a question: Aquí están los juguetes. Aquí está la caja de los juguetes. ¿Pero dónde está el gatito? Of course, when kids lift the flap, the kitten is in the toy box – which lets readers talk about the picture and reinforce the words again.
How Many? / ¿Cuántos hay? is another lift-the-flap book by Cheryl Christian. Reading this book, kids count wonderful photos of animals, look under the flap and then count again. They are engaged and learning language in multiple ways on each page.
The last two bilingual board books I want to mention are by Brian Wildsmith. Brian Wildsmith is a winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, and has earned a reputation as one of the greatest living children’s illustrators. The illustrations in his beautiful bilingual board books enchant and inspire children. Kids want to talk about what they see.
Two of my favorite bilingual board books by Brian Wildsmith are Los colores de los animales and Animals to Count / ¿Cuántos animales hay? The counting book of course invites children to touch and count the animals. Los colores de los animales is similar in that kids want to touch and interact with the illustrations. As they do, parents have the perfect opportunity to repeat animal and color words.
All the research points to the benefits of introducing children to books and languages from birth. These bilingual board books from Star Bright Books are the perfect place to start.
Disclosure: The company sent me copies of the books to write the review. All opinions and ideas are my own.