Stories in Spanish from to read aloud to kids.

Since I wrote this article, Lee & Low has modified their web site and changed the structure slightly. The stories in Spanish that I refer to in the article are now listed in the Emergent Spanish Collection and the Emergent Dual Language Spanish/English Collection. The links have been modified accordingly.

Independent publisher Lee & Low recently sent me five books from their Arcoiris series. This collection of leveled readers consists of excellent Spanish translations of award-winning stories. Leveled texts are carefully designed to support beginning readers. The stories in Spanish cover a wide range of topics and themes, and true to Lee & Low’s vision, reflect the diversity of their young readers.

In addition to being perfect for children learning to read, the Arcoiris books are excellent to read aloud to children learning Spanish. In fact, this collection reinforces my belief that leveled texts are often a better choice as read-alouds for Spanish learners than other picture books.

Teachers and parents regularly mention their frustration when trying to read picture books to children learning Spanish. Picture books are wonderful language learning tools, but it is important to realize that in her first language a typical four-year old has an active vocabulary of 1,500 words and understands many more. Stories written to engage children at that level are often too difficult for a child who is learning a second language. Leveled readers, like the Arcoiris series, can make hearing a story more fun and useful for Spanish language learners.

Lee and Low has excellent previews of most of the books in the Arcoiris series. Just click on Preview this book below the picture of the cover. Here are a few to get you started, but be sure to explore the other titles.

Spanish story from Lee and Low.      Spanish story to read aloud.     Story in Spanish teaches 5 senses.

Stories in Spanish to Read Aloud

These features of the Arcoiris series make the books especially effective to read aloud with children learning Spanish.

  • The stories rely on high-frequency words. This is concrete vocabulary that Spanish learners are exposed to in other situations. There is little description and abstract language, so the story is accessible to children learning the language.
  • There is a close text-to-illustration correspondence. The illustrations in these books are designed to help beginning readers understand the text. This is exactly the support children need in their second language. While native speakers use the pictures to recognize and read a word they already know, Spanish learners use the same illustrations to attach meaning to language they hear.
  • The language is completely natural. Unlike many books that are written specifically to teach Spanish, the grammatical structures in leveled readers reflect authentic language usage.
  • Many of these stories in Spanish have patterns. Patterns provide repetition of key structures and let children absorb and predict the language. Parents and teachers can use these common structures in other situations to reinforce the Spanish children are learning.
  • The books focus on one central idea. A narrow focus makes these stories in Spanish much easier for children to understand.
  • The Arcoiris books are short. Learning a new language is fun, but it is also takes mental energy.  A child’s attention span in a second language is shorter than in her first language. It is better to re-read a short book than to have children lose interest.
  • Hearing the stories in Spanish read aloud will make them familiar when kids start to read independently. In addition to building confidence and helping develop reading skills, using the books again as children start to read will provide essential repetition of key vocabulary and structures. It is a natural way to re-enter language so that children learn at a deeper level.

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