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Five Books to Build Beginning Vocabulary

If you're looking for good kids' books in Spanish to begin building basic vocabulary, here are a few suggestions.

The images in these books are clear and bright. The vocabulary is basic, useful stuff that will help reinforce whatever other methods you're using to introduce Spanish.

I always prefer kids' books originally written in Spanish instead of bilingual or translated books, but children's books originally written in Spanish are quite hard to find in the U.S. So we have to work with what we have for now. These 5 books span the gamut of bilingual; originally written in Spanish; and translated from English.

These titles are mostly geared for the 0-5 age range, but really they could work for any age. Adults can learn this way too. I've even picked up a few alternative words for things along the way.

1. primeras 100 palabras

2. Aventuras del alfabeto

3. La oruga muy hambrienta

4. Cosas que me gustan

5. Formas de jugar

primeras 100 palabras

Libros infantiles

There are several books out there that are similar in concept to this book - offering a lot of clear pictures and simple vocabulary words. They're not the most exciting books to read over and over again (for us, at least), but they are a great place to start introducing language to a baby or a young toddler. At that young age, they're so curious about everything that they don't need sentences and stories yet to be captivated. They are intrigued by colors and sounds and, in the case of my son, trucks. All cars and trucks, all the time. This particular book focuses on vocabulary words that are used pretty often throughout the day. Not all of the images are interesting - my son often skips a page or two - but there are enough words in there that, even if you skip a few pages, your little will hear plenty of language.

Aventuras del alfabeto

Spanish alphabet book for kids

It's hard to say enough good things about this book. It introduces the alphabet in 27 silly, alliterative phrases. When we're happy and laughing and enjoying ourselves, we learn better. The authors of this book seemed to have taken that into account. Every time I read Aventuras del alfabeto to my toddler, he says, "That's funny," over and over again (He doesn't say, "Qué chistoso," yet, but I remain hopeful that someday soon he will). This book was originally written in Spanish - the alliteration would be lost in English - by bilingual parents wanting to raise bilingual kids. So they created things like fussy bats burning cheese over a campfire, and happy foxes tap dancing on stage in sapphire shoes. Kids can learn all kinds of words from this book - verbs, colors, animals, places, imaginary creatures, and more.

La oruga muy habrienta

Libros infantiles

This classic book by Eric Carle translates well into Spanish, and the board-book version does a good job of capturing baby's attention. The pages vary in size, and many have punched-out holes that are perfect for little fingers to explore. The book introduces some very useful, basic vocabulary, like the names of fruit, the days of the week, and the numbers one through five, and it's a fun introduction to the wonders of nature (who isn't amazed by the incredible transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly?).

Cosas que me gustan

Libros infantiles

This simple book, translated from English to Spanish, is a good way to introduce toddlers to the verbs that describe their favorite activities, like climbing, painting, and playing with toys. The colors are bright, the illustrations are clear, and the vocabulary is immediately relevant to a toddler.

Formas de jugar

Bilingual books for kids

This bilingual book introduces babies to basic shapes - circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and diamond. The illustrations cleverly use the various shapes to depict everyday objects which are easily recognizable to a toddler - like houses, a school bus, and a truck, which is a fun way to introduce early on that geometry really is all around us, all the time. My son quickly started pointing out circles and squares in objects he encountered throughout his day. (Of course, we also play with wooden shape puzzles quite often). There are removable puzzle pieces in the back of the book, so babies can feel the shapes they're learning about. Our pieces were scattered and lost early on, but my son still enjoys reading the book.

For more information on these books and tips on where to find them, please check out each book's individual review on the book review page.