5 Great Children's Books to Help Build Your Spanish Vocabularies
I have been learning Spanish for a while now and I have a basic understanding of the core grammar and I can get by in simple conversations. However, one of my main problems is that my vocabulary is very small. I often find that it stops me from having fun conversations as I am always stopping to try and find the words that I want. To help myself with this, I have started reading children’s books in Spanish. I haven’t read a children’s book since I was, well, a child. But it has been a fun and useful experience. To begin with, it was hard as I was always stopping to check the meaning of words and phrases, but it has definitely helped to improve my knowledge. I am slow at reading and it was really helpful to read sections from different books. I found that I will often see examples of the things that I have learnt in my Spanish classes and it helps to solidify these lessons in my mind.
Here are five books that have helped me a lot. I didn’t read the whole of all of them, but I have enjoyed each of these books a lot. I would recommend you do a bit of research before picking up a book as it is helpful to have a book that suits your level of Spanish. A book that is too easy becomes boring and one that is too hard can be demoralizing. I hope that these options will give you some ideas to start with. If you are in Buenos Aires, I would recommend going to one of the many second-hand shops, which you can find a lot of them on Av. Corrientes between Av. 9 de Julio and Av. Callao, to buy your books as they are much cheaper than buying them new.
"Matilda" by Roald Dahl
This was the first children’s book that I bought in Spanish and it is what started me in reading more in Spanish. I chose this because I remembered reading it in English when I was a child and I remembered watching the film. This was a good decision as it meant that I already knew the storyline and could guess some things that I didn’t understand.
"… y no se lo tragó la tierra " by Tomas Riviera
This is a book I picked up in one of Buenos Aires many second-hand bookshops. It is perfect for learning some Spanish as it is broken up into 14 short stories. It is about the son of migrant farmers in Texas. Some of the book is from the perspective of the child and the rest of the book is from the perspective of other people who know him.
"El Gato Ensombrerado" by Dr. Seuss
This is a very fun book for learning some beginner’s Spanish. The sentences are short and straightforward, and there are funny descriptions of everyday items. I think this is a great book to get you engaged especially when you are just starting out to learn Spanish. I had read the Cat in the Hat in English a lot when I was a child and it was satisfying re-reading the book in another language.
"El Principito" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This book is so famous and it has been translated into so many languages that it has to be included in the list for language learning. For me, it was at the perfect level of complexity. There was a lot that I did not know, so I learnt many new things but I also understood enough that I could make an accurate guess when I didn’t understand small things. Also, the story is a lot of fun, keeping you interested while learning.
"El Príncipe Feliz" by Oscar Wilde
I remembered that I had enjoyed reading this story when I was a child and I was lucky to find a version online. The text was written side-by-side with an English version and there was a recording of somebody reading it. This made it very easy to quickly check any words that I did not understand and to verify that my understanding was correct. The audio also helped me to recognise the sounds of words that I had never heard before. It is a very short story about a friendship between a statue of a prince and a migrating bird. It is a sad story but also very beautiful.
Contributed by Oliver who is living in Buenos Aires while studying Spanish at Vamos Spanish Academy.