Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Summer Reading List for your Elementary Spanish Students

Who doesn't want to encourage kiddos to read over the summer? As a Spanish teacher, I also want to encourage my students to have Spanish and/or culture be part of their summer experience. To that end, I send home a Summer Reading List featuring books kids can read that are fun and keep the Spanish learning going. I typically look for books in English with Hispanic themes- this allows parents to be involved in the reading, too, especially with picture books. Nothing like a good bedtime story! Here is this year's list:

 Picture Books
*Borreguita and Coyote- this trickster tale from México is an old favorite of mine, featured on Reading Rainbow many years ago. Lots of fun to read aloud!

*La Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a cute story written in the 'The House that Jack Built' style focusing on the ingredients for making arroz con leche. The recipe is at the end and is sprinkled with Spanish words throughout.

*Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds is a hilarious story about farm animals stealing ingredients from the garden while the farmer is away to make salsa.

*Mañana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul is a take on 'The Little Red Hen'. Iguana wants to put on a fiesta but none of his friends will help. Spanish days of the week are part of the text and the illustrations are so cute! Whitford Paul has also written several other books in the same style, each as cute. They include Fiesta FiascoCount on Culebra,  and Tortuga in Trouble.  Families will certainly have fun reading these together!

*Playing Lotería-El juego de la Lotería by Rene Colato Lainez tells the story of Mexican Lotería... a great cultural find!

Books for Older Elementary Readers
*Who was Pablo Picasso? by True Kelley is part of a series of biographies written for young readers. Accessible and informative, this is a great book for kiddos who are interested in nonfiction. The series also includes Who was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny and Who was Roberto Clemente?.

*The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan tells the story of Neftalí... who ultimately becomes Pablo Neruda. This is an illustrated novel perfect for older readers.

*Confetti Girl by Diana López tells the story of Apolonia Flores, a young Hispanic girl making sense of her life and the loss of her mother. Told in the first person, it is filled with Spanish words and dichos, a great insight into culture through a poignant and fun read.

 *The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez is the tale of Lucía, a 14 year old girl living in Cuba in the sixties who, due to the revolution, must move to the US without her family. A touching historical fictional perspective on Cuba, and very well written-loved it!

*Esperanza Rising  by Pam Muñoz Ryan.. we all know it and we all love it! This is a perennial recommendation of mine; it is an emotional story of coming to the US from México as a migrant worker. 

*The Circuit  by Francisco Jimenez is the beginning of a series of books chronicling Jimenez's life coming illegally across the Mexican-US border in 1947. 

*I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin is set in Valparaíso, Chile and is on MY summer reading list! Celeste, a sixth grader, finds her world turned upside down as the political situation in Chile takes a dramatic turn. I haven't read this yet, but has won the Pura Belpé Award! UPDATE: after writing this post, I read this book and to my pleasant surprise found it is also set in Maine, where I live, making it a extra special read. I LOVED this book!

Un buen libro es un buen amigo! Happy reading!

LOOKING FOR MORE RECOMMENDATIONS? See our list for 2017 here!



  1. Thanks for the recommendations! I love Esperanza Rising. I have a class set that my classes read!

    1. I do, too! I really try to encourage my students and their families to explore Hispanic culture over the summer!

  2. Thanks for the post--sharing on my FB page :) It's a great motivator to get my book lists together for my sons before summer vacation starts!!

    1. My pleasure! and thank you for sharing!

      I really believe in families sharing together these great books, especially the picture books! I think they are a great way for families to be involved in the Spanish program and their childrens' education... and they are just fun to read!