13 Mixed-Language Spanish/English Picture Books
by Meredith Bartolo Pappas
If you live in a multilingual household, or want to teach your young child another language, mixed-language books are a great start.
Mixed-language books are predominantly written in one language but feature specific words in another language. They aren’t fully dual-language or bilingual books because they only feature specific words or phrases and are not written in both languages equally. Even if your child isn’t reading on their own, just hearing and seeing words written in different languages can be a great exposure for them.
Whatever language you speak in your house, reading mixed-language books with your young children can be incredibly beneficial for language and literacy skills and strengthening attention and cognition.
Here is a list of both dual-language (written in two languages) and mixed-language (featuring words in another language) books. These are Spanish/English picture books for children ages 3 and up.
My Town Mi Pueblo by Nicholas Solis and Louisa Uribe
Set in the border towns of Laredo and Nueve Laredo, two cousins describe the ways their towns are the same and different and dream of the day they can visit each other with ease. While they honor their own hometowns, they also embrace each other’s towns too. A sweet homage to connecting with family and place.
One is a Piñata by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra
A bilingual book that highlights numbers in English and Spanish with quirky illustrations. There are two other books by this author and illustrator that highlight shapes and colors, Green Is A Chile Pepper and Round Is A Tortilla, that are also just right for bilingual learners. A fun addition to the bilingual library!
Taking A Walk/Caminando by Rebecca Emberley
Not really a story, but a fantastic way to build vocabulary in both Spanish and English! This book takes you on a walk and labels everything that you see with both languages. If you like this one, there is another called My House/Mi Casa that gives words for things you would see around your home. Great for beginning bilingual readers!
The Heart Of Mi Familia by Carrie Lara and Christine Battuz
If you’ve read Marvelous Maravilliso: Me and My Beautiful Family, then this book is for you! A young girl describes her experiences with her father’s family from Central America and her mother’s family from The United States as she creates a birthday present for her brother. A lovely way to honor a multicultural family!
Coquí In The City by Nomar Perez
Based on the author’s lived experiences, the young boy in this story must move to New York, and leave his pet frog behind, from his home in Puerto Rico. Though it seems like a big change, he discovers that there are a lot of similarities between both places. Resonate for anyone who has had to move.
Mi Cuidad Sings by Cynthia Harmony and Teressa Martinez
Even though this book is about a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, it is written in such a hopeful and gentle way that it doesn’t feel overly scary for younger readers. After the earthquake, a young girl travels through her city and sees neighbors helping each other and being strong and brave together to bring back the music and vibrancy of their city. Showcases how strong people and places really are.
World of ¡Vamos! (series) by Raúl The Third and Elaine Bay
All of Raúl the Third’s books are a delight, but this series is a great one for teaching Spanish words and bits of culture too. Each is a stand-alone book so you can dive into this quirky world with any one. Some of the most fun bilingual books around!
Señorita Mariposa by Ben Gundersheimer and Marcos Almada Rivero
Written in both English and Spanish, this rhyming book takes you through the migration of the butterflies from Canada to Mexico. A great book to teach about the resilience of butterflies as well as getting a look at the geography of their journey. Reads like a song!
Thank You/Gracias by Pat Mora and John Parra
What are you thankful for in your everyday life? Follow along with the boy in this poetic story to find all the things that he is grateful for, like not being stung by a bee while playing, and see if you have any appreciations in common!
Count Me In!: A Parade Of Mexican Folk Art Numbers In English And Spanish by Cynthia Weill and the Aguilar Sisters
Get a glimpse of Mexican Folk Art while also learning numbers in English and Spanish. This joyful book is one in a beautiful collection of bilingual books that feature the heritage-rich art of the Aguilar Sisters, so if you enjoy this one check out all the others! Each book in this collection features different Mexican Folk Artists and their medium, from ceramics (like this one) to carved wooden sculptures or textiles. A fantastic way to learn a bit of language and culture at once!
El Cuarto Turquesa by Monica Brown and Adriana M. Garcia
A lovely generational book about the women in Monica Brown’s family. One after another, they explore their creativity and their dreams, all from the Turquoise Room (El Cuarto Turquesa). Written in both English and Spanish, this one is a beautiful addition to any bilingual bookshelf!
The Secret of the Plátano by Luz Maria Mack and Stephany Mesa
Written for children ages five and up, this is a beautiful dance between a grandmother and her grandson as she tries to show him the rhythm of his heart, his culture, and the plátanos so integral to his homeland! Though this one doesn’t include as much Spanish, it is a lovely way to open the door to Dominican culture, and the illustrations are luminous! A multigenerational ode to love and homelands.
How To Fold A Taco by Naibe Reynoso and Ana Varela
Written in rhyming prose in both English and Spanish, this book is a lovely ode to a favorite comida, the taco! However you fold or eat your taco, you are in for a delicious dish. This book is especially fantastic because the words rhyme in both English and Spanish, and is fully immersive and fun to read in either language!
Any of these dual-language or mixed-language picture books are a wonderful way to begin or continue practicing languages with young children. Even if you aren’t in a bilingual home or school, or aren’t planning to teach your child another language, it can be so beneficial for children to hear different languages. Not just to build cognitive, literacy, and language skills, but also to strengthen empathy and acceptance. Really, everyone can benefit from hearing other languages, even adults. So, say bienvenidos to mixed-language books on your bookshelf!
About Meredith Bartolo Pappas
Meredith is a licensed teacher with almost twenty years of experience in education. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy, and social-emotional development. She is also a reading specialist, artist, and mom of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her at Sharing Circle Education sharingcircleeducation.com and on Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.