This weekend you may have celebrated Children’s Book Day. If you work with Spanish language learners, you may also want to recognize World Book Day, or El Día Internacional del Libro later in the month. This is a wonderful way to celebrate part of Spanish history and culture. UNESCO designated April 23 as a day to recognize the importance of books and authors and to encourage everyone to read. The date is symbolic because Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died on April 23, 1616.
The idea for El Día Internacional del Libro stems from the Catalan tradition of exchanging a rose for a book on April 23rd, which is also the festival of San Jorge. Historically, a man gave a woman a rose and she gave him a book. Now it is common to exchange books or roses or both. As you can see in this short video of a street in Barcelona, the city is full of vendors selling books and roses. What a great combination!
How can you celebrate El Día Internacional del Libro with children learning Spanish?
Have a book party with friends and share favorites by reading aloud.
Have a book exchange with friends.
Write to a favorite author and tell her why you love her book.
Tell your librarians at school and at the public library how much you appreciate them.
Read! Here are a few books for Spanish language learners that celebrate reading or Cervantes:
1. Book Fiesta – Pat Mora’s beautiful dual language book (Spanish-English) is all about celebrating books. The bright paintings by Rafael Lopez show children enjoying books and reading, and the book encourages everyone to join in the celebration.
2. Yo puedo leer con los ojos cerrados – This is the Spanish translation of the Dr. Seuss book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! It is a true celebration of reading.
3. Puedo leer (I can read) With great photographs, a repeated sentence structure, and basic vocabulary, this short book is perfect for Spanish language beginners. In simple words – puedo leer la carta, puedo leer el períodico-, it shows some of the things that we read everyday.
4. My Friends/ Mis Amigos – This is a lovely bilingual book about learning different things from different friends. Most of them are animals, but books also make an appearance.
5. Don Quixote – This classic is considered one of the greatest works of fiction ever published, and one of the foundations of modern literature. Its influence on Spanish language and literature is tremendous. More important to children learning Spanish, it is a great story, full of fun and action. There are many adaptations for children, and an introduction to the characters and plot, in either English or Spanish, will prove valuable to any young person learning Spanish.
Don Quixote – With comic-book-style illustrations, this English language adaptation relates some of Don Quixote’s most famous adventures.
Don Quixote – This bilingual adaptation for children is an excellent introduction to the novel.
Don Quixote of the Mancha. – This English edition has been abridged and adapted for children, but tells much more of the story than the two books mentioned above. This edition has a suggested reading level of 9-12 years.