Children learning Spanish as a second language, or in minority language situations, get most of their exposure to the language from adults. They often do not hear Spanish-speaking children playing with the sounds of the language and expressing emotion naturally with their voices.
Quiero ser distinta is from the site Milcuentos.com: Cuentos infantiles con sonido (A thousand stories: Children’s stories with sound), a collection of stories illustrated and narrated by children. The expression that the children use as they tell the stories is wonderful. Quiero ser distinta is about a snake that wants to have legs, gets legs, and then decides to be himself again. The child who narrates the story shows a wonderful range of emotion and emphasis and plays with the rhythm of Spanish as children naturally do.
The story is simple and appropriate for beginning language learners. Be sure to support the text by pointing to the illustrations.
For example, on the second page:
Un día se dio cuenta que no tenía patas y se puso muy triste, y todos sus amigos también.
Point to the picture of the legs that the snake is thinking about and explain: No tiene patas. Las serpientes no tienen patas. Los perros sí, los gatos tienen patas, pero las serpientes no tienen patas.
Point to the frown on the snake’s face – Mira ¡qué triste está! Point to the sad birds and the sad sun. – Y sus amigos también.
In the text and translation below, the words in bold indicate things in the illustrations that you can point to.
Once you know that your child understands the basic idea of the story, listen to it again. Ideally, she will hear the same stories over and over, so it is important to come back to stories over time. As part of a routine of reading in Spanish before you read in English, or on a day when you have a few extra minutes, suggest listening to Quiero ser distinta.
Click on the link to listen to the story in Spanish with sound and illustrations. Click on the story Quiero ser distinta in the upper right hand corner. Click on Iniciar Relato (begin story) to hear the story.
This is the text of Quiero ser distinta and a translation.
Érase una vez una serpiente muy bonita que tenía muchos amigos. / Once upon a time there was a very pretty snake that had many friends.
Un día se dio cuenta que no tenía patas y se puso muy triste, y todos sus amigos también. / One day he realized that he didn’t have any legs and he got very sad, and all of his friends too.
Un día se encontró al Genio de la Piña que le concedió un deseo. Y aunque al genio le pareció raro le puso unas patas. / One day he met the Pineapple Genie who granted him a wish. And even though is seemed strange to the genie, he gave the snake legs.
Paseando por el campo se pinchó una pata. Se dijo: “tengo que comprarme unos zapatos”. / Walking through the countryside, he pricked his foot. He said to himself, “I have to buy some shoes.”
Fue a una tienda y se compró unos zapatos muy bonitos. / He went to a store and bought some very pretty shoes.
Y aunque los zapatos eran muy bonitos, a sus amigos les gustaba más sin patas. / Even though the shoes were very pretty, his friends liked him more without legs.
Se encontró de nuevo con el genio y le dijo: “Por favor déjame como antes”. El genio que era muy simpático se lo concedió. / He went to the genie again and he told him, “Please make me like I was before.” The genie, who was very nice, granted his wish.
Ahora está mirando la luna con sus amigos y se siente muy bien. / Now he is looking at the moon with his friends, and he feels very happy.