Spanish for children picture book

Picture books in Spanish are one of the best language learning tools you can use with children.  Even as kids get older, if you can convince them to listen or to read together, they will learn an amazing amount of Spanish.

I love the Spanish-English bilingual book Un gato y un perro/A Cat and a Dog by Claire Masurel. Although it is hard to define what exactly makes a picture book fun, in this case, the grouchy animals in the illustrations are certainly part of the appeal. Children love the funny pictures of animals glaring at each other and they can relate to the difficulties of living in the same house and having to share.  They are also reassured that animals that live together can fight, but also need each other and help each other.

In terms of learning Spanish, this book is an excellent choice for beginners.  The sentences are short, the vocabulary is basic, and the illustrations make the story easy to understand. Un gato y un perro is bilingual, with the Spanish and English on each page, but it can certainly be read without the English, even with beginners.

This book can also be used with children who know more Spanish. The story and pictures are engaging enough that they won’t be bored, and you can ask personal questions. Below, I have included a few possible questions.

As always when reading aloud in Spanish, pronunciation is very important. If you are learning Spanish with your child, if possible, ask a native speaker to record the story for you, so you can hear it and read it correctly.  It is a great way for you to practice your pronunciation!  You can also use text-to-speech programs to check pronunciation.  These programs are not perfect, but they are remarkably good. They do get the vowel sounds right, and that is essential to Spanish pronunciation. There are lots of these programs online. AT&T Natural Voices, for example, is easy to use. Change the voice and language to Rosa or Alberto – Latin Am. Spanish.

There are many ways to read a book with children and lots of possible ways to talk about the story. These are a few phrases that you can use to read Un gato y un perro with beginning Spanish learners:

Un gato y un perro vivían en la misma casa, / pero no eran amigos.

On these first two pages, point to the illustration of el perro, el gato and la casa.   Say, Allí está el gato.  Y allí está el perro.  Y allí está la casa. Ask, ¿Quien vive en nuestra casa? Name who lives in your house.  As you read the story, continue to point out el gato y el perro.  Repetition is important.

¡Perro sucio! /¡Gato perezoso!
If you have a dog or cat, when you read these pages ask ¿Es (name of pet) peresozo/a? ¿Es (name of pet) sucio/a?

Peleaban por todo,/ los mejores lugares,/ la mejor comida.
Point to the different fish-shaped treats and bone-shaped treats. Say, Es comida de gato. Es comida de perro. Count the treats together in Spanish. Then say, Hay trece para el gato.  Hay seis para el perro.

Pero más que nada / peleaban por los juguetes.
Point to the toy mouse. Say, Allí está el ratón. Es el juguete del gato. Point to the ball. Say, Allí está la pelota. Es el juguete del perro.

El gato y el perro jugaban solos.
On these pages, point out the animals with their toys.  Associating the words will help children learn them.  Say, Allí está el gato con el ratón. Allí está el perro con la pelota. Then on the next page, ask ¿Dónde está el gato? ¿Y el ratón? ¿Dónde está el perro? ¿Y la pelota?

Hasta que un día, / pasó algo terrible.
Say, ¿Dónde está el ratón? Point to the water and say ¡El ratón está en el agua! Y ¿Dónde está la pelota? Point to the tree and say ¡La pelota está en el árbol!

Yo sé nada. / Yo sé trepar.
On these pages, point to the animals and the toys.  Say, ¡El perro va por el ratón!   ¡El gato va por la pelota!

Un gato y un perro viven en la misma casa/ y ahora son los mejores amigos.
Point to the house. Say, Están en la casa.  Ahora son amigos.

If you read Un gato y un perro with children who know more Spanish. Consider questions like these:
¿Peleas con tu hermano/a? ¿Pelean por los mejores lugares? ¿Por la comida? ¿Por los juguetes?
¿Tienes un juguete favorito?
¿A ti, te gusta jugar solo?
¿Sabes nada?  ¿Sabes trepar?

You can find more information about choosing picture books for Spanish language learners here: Choosing picture books in Spanish.

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