This bilingual edition of My Friends/Mis amigos by Taro Gomi has Spanish and English on facing pages. It is an enchanting book, and a wonderful way to expose children to lots of Spanish. In terms of vocabulary, the book teaches animals in Spanish, and also the infinitives for many common Spanish verbs.
I love the concept of this book– a child recounts learning essential skills from her friends, tracing the accomplishments of learning to walk, jump, climb and many other things, until she is off to school where her friends the books teach her to read, and her friends the teachers teach her to study. The text consists of one structure, with two items that change – the friend, and the skill learned. For example:
De mi amigo el gato, aprendí a caminar. / I learned to walk from my friend the cat.
De mi amigo el caballo, aprendí a correr. / I learned to run from my friend the horse.
De mi amigo la hormiga, aprendí a explorar la tierra. / I learned to explore the earth from my friend the ant.
De mi amigo el búho, aprendí a observar el cielo nocturno. / I learned to watch the night sky from my friend the owl.
De mis amigos los libros, aprendí a leer. / I learned to read from my friends the books.
Brilliantly colored pictures and the text combine to create the world that has nurtured the child, and a narrative of how she has moved through that world and through time. Grammatically, the text is a basic substitution drill that can be found in any Spanish textbook. However, in this book, the changing elements build the story of childhood.
My Friends/ Mis amigos is captivating. It appeals to a child’s awareness of time, her surroundings, and all she has learned. In addition, the book is an excellent choice for Spanish language learners. The strong correlation of the text to the illustrations and the repetition of one grammatical structure let children experience and absorb the Spanish language.