There are many different kinds of books that children of all ages can enjoy! Here are some different kinds of books and related resources, as well as information about finding books in Spanish and diverse books. You will be able to find many of these kinds of books at your public library or school library. You may also wish to give children books or magazines as gifts for special celebrations!
Types of books
- Baby books: Baby books are interesting for babies to look at and play with! They might be made out of different materials, like cloth, or have buttons, sounds, or mirrors. You can also find waterproof books that can go in the tub!
- Board books: Board books are designed for babies and young children. Their pages are made of cardboard and they are very sturdy for babies to hold (and chew!). They often have simple shapes, colors, or pictures of baby faces. Sometimes they feature a simpler version of a children’s picture book. Your public library may have a section of board books in Spanish. You can find examples of Spanish board books in this booklist.
- Picture books: Picture books come in all shapes and sizes. They usually include illustrations and a story or text. Some picture books just have illustrations and are called wordless books. Some picture books are designed for younger children, such as Pat Mora’s Mi Familia series, while others have more text in the story, such as Grandma’s Records/Los discos de mi abuela by Eric Velasquez. These books make great read-alouds to share together!
- Early readers: Early reader books are designed for children who are just learning how to read. There are many kinds of books at all different levels and there may be a special early reader section in your library in English and Spanish. For example, the Rafi and Rosi series about two coquí frogs in Puerto Rico by Lulu Delacre is available in English and Spanish.
- Non-fiction books: Non-fiction books share information about all kinds of topics, such as science, nature, history, biographies, and sports. For example, National Geographic publishes many non-fiction books in English and Spanish on popular topics such as dinosaurs, sharks, and penguins.
- Biographies/autobiographies: Biographies and autobiographies share information about a person's life. These can be picture books, such as the books on our Latinos Who Made a Difference and Latina Trailblazers booklists. In addition, these books can be longer books, such as La mariposa by Francisco Jiménez or Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo, both of which are also available in Spanish.
- Chapter books: Chapter books are books with short chapters. They are often published in a series. Chapter books provide great practice for children who are learning to read, but they are also fun to read together! For example, three popular series that are available in English and Spanish by Latina authors include:
- Lola Levine: Chapter Book Series by Monica Brown
- Sarai Gonzalez: Chapter Book Series by Monica Brown
- Stella Díaz: Chapter Book Series by Angela Dominguez
- Novels for children/Children’s fiction: There are lots of novels written for children that are available in English and Spanish. For example, Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is available in both English and Spanish. These books also make great read-alouds to share together.
- Novels for middle grades/Middle grade fiction: Books for middle grades (grades 6-8) are “in-between” books. They often deal with topics that are important at the middle school age – friends, family, school, favorite activities, and learning about yourself. Meg Medina's award-winning Merci Suarez series is available in English and Spanish. (And remember that your children are never too old for reading out loud together!)
- Novels for young adults/Young adult fiction: Books for young adults (9-12) often deal with more serious topics than middle grade books or chapter book – although not always! They often include stories about friends and relationships, coming of age, responsibilities, choices about the future, and identity. Examples of Spanish-language books for young adults, such as Summer of the Mariposas/El verano de las mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, can be found here.
- Comic books/graphic novels: These books are tell stories through pictures and graphics and are often very popular with kids. They are written for different ages. One example is They Called Us Enemy/Nos llamaron enemigo by George Takei.
- Magazines: There are some great Spanish-language magazines available, such as Highlights High Five Bilingue! There are also all kinds of children’s magazines in English that cover different topics for kids of different ages.
- Audiobooks: Audiobooks are books that you listen to instead of read. You can often download the book on your phone or device. For example, you can borrow free audiobooks from your library or a website like Audible.com, which has some free books and other books for sale. These are great for listening to at home or while traveling. Here are some examples of Spanish-language audiobooks.
Finding books in Spanish
Spanish-language books include a few different formats.
- Spanish versions of books: Sometimes when books are translated, each language appears in a separate edition. An example is Just Ask! / ¡Solo pregunta! by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the middle grade novel My Name is Maria Isabel/Me llamo Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada.
- Bilingual books: These books include both languages in a single book. Sometimes both languages appear on the same page, on opposite pages, or in two different sections of the book. An example is Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú by Francisco X. Alarcón.
- Books that feature Spanish vocabulary: These books are written in English, but feature Spanish words throughout the story. Examples include ¡Vamos! Let's Cross the Bridge by Raúl the Third and Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza.
Keep in mind that when you are looking for Spanish-books, you will find Spanish translations of popular stories that were first written in English, such as The Snowy Day/El día de nieve. And you may find Spanish-language versions of many kinds of diverse stories, such as the award-winning Hello, Universe/Hola, Universo by Erin Entrada Kelly. However, you can also find many Spanish and bilingual books written by Latino authors and/or illustrators for all ages.
Your local public library may have a section of Spanish-language or bilingual books, and your child’s school library may have some as well. If not, you can ask librarians to include more in their collection! You can also purchase books at local bookstores or online.
Diverse books share stories about people who have diverse cultures, experiences, and backgrounds. For example, these might include stories about a special holiday celebrated in Latin America like el Día de los Muertos or books about immigration. There are also books that feature stories from diverse communities, such as Latino/a, African American, Asian American / Pacific Islander, and Indigenous and Native stories from the Americas. Diverse books are written for children of all ages.
It’s important to share diverse books with all children for a few reasons:
- When children see their own experiences in a book, it builds their confidence and lets them know there are special, important things they share with others. (These are called “mirror” books.)
- When children see other people’s experiences in a book, they can learn new things and also develop empathy. (These are called “mirror” books.)
You can ask your child’s teacher or librarian where to find diverse books, and you can also let them know if you’d like to see books related to a certain culture or topic in their collection. Sometimes it takes some extra effort to find diverse books, but it’s important that students see a range of stories in their classroom and at home.
Finally, keep in mind that sometimes books about diverse topics or diverse characters (or even that have been translated into another language) contain mistakes or have stereotypes. If you see a book that you think is not accurate or offensive, let your child’s teacher know.