Thematic Reading List: 15 Bilingual Picture Books


Bilingual picture books provide a unique way for students to learn basic words and conversational phrases in other languages. The books listed below present simple words and phrases great for beginning bilingual learners. Please note that most of the books on this list are bilingual Spanish/English in response to the higher percentage of Spanish/English learners in American classrooms.

0618224238 Calabash Cat, and His Amazing Journey 
By: James Rumford

A Calabash Cat, living in Africa, sets off to see where the world ends. The text is also repeated in Arabic.
0938317768 The Day it Snowed Tortillas= El Dia que Nevaron Tortillas
By: Joe Hayes
Illustrated by: Antonio Castro Lopez

This flip-book relates ten Spanish folktales in both English and Spanish. A pencil drawing accompanies each story. Though every story has a familiar feel, they all have a distinct Spanish flavor that makes them appealing.

1845073363 El Gato Leo Comes to Play: a first Spanish story
By: Opal Dunn

Invites youngsters to learn Spanish by lifting the flaps to see the English translations of the words Leo, a cat who speaks only Spanish, says as he plays.
9781600602580 Gracias
By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: John Parra

A young multiracial boy celebrates family, friendship, and fun by telling about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.

0763665983 Hurry home, hedgehog!: a bilingual book of sounds
By: Belle Yang

Featuring side-by-side text in English and Mandarin Chinese, a bilingual celebration of the natural world combines illustrations with concept-reinforcing sound words describing a little hedgehog’s exploration of his surroundings.
9780892392322 Let Me Help!
By: Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez

A pet parrot tries to help his human family prepare for the Cinco de Mayo festivities in San Antonio, Texas.

9780873588881 Lupa Vargas and Her Super Best Friend
By: A Costales
Illustrated by: Alexandra Artigas

Lupe and Ana are best friends. After playing games, they have a disagreement and they must determine how to fix it.

9780892392926 Maya’s Blanket
By: Monica Brown
Illustrated by: David Diaz

When a little girl’s cherished baby blanket becomes old and worn, it is made into a dress, and over the years it is made into even smaller and smaller items, eventually ending up as a bookmark and inspiring the creation of a book.

1840595078 Minutka the bilingual dog
By: Anna Mycek-Wodecki

In both English and Chinese, a little black-and-white dog describes her life with a bilingual family and all the things she can do, including shake her paw and run in circles.
087358872X My Name is Celia: the life of Celia Cruz
By: Monica Brown
Illustrated by: Rafael Lopez

This is the debut title in Rising Moon’s “Luna Rising” series of bilingual Latino storybook-biography series for young readers and tells the story of Cuban songstress/Salsa Queen Celia Cruz.

0892392096 Quinito’s Neighborhood= El Vecindario de Quinito
By: Ina Cumpiano
Illustrated by: Jose Ramirez

Quinito describes the members of his family and some of the people in his neighborhood and what they do, from his mother the carpenter and his father the nurse to his teacher and his wife, the school crossing guard.

9780761352310 Say Something, Perico
By: Trudy Harris
Illustrated by: Cecilia Rebora

Perico is a Spanish-speaking parrot who lives in a pet store, and although he works very hard to earn a new home, buyers keep returning him until the bird, now bilingual, finds the perfect owner. Includes Spanish glossary and pronunciation guide.

9781597020275 Sora and the cloud = Sora to kumo 
By: Felicia Hoshino
Illustrated by: Akiko Hisa

A young boy climbs up a tree and into a waiting cloud, which takes him on a whirling adventure in the sky.
0892392223 The Storyteller’s Candle
By: Lucia M. Gonzalez
Illustrated by: Lulu Delacre

During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood’s first Three Kings’ Day fiesta.
9780892391622 The Upside Down Boy
By: Juan Felipe Herrera
Illustrated by: Elizabeth G. Omez

The author recalls the year when his farm worker parents settled down in the city so that he could go to school for the first time.

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