A Mighty Girl's top picks of girl-empowering bilingual board and picture books in English and Spanish.
From the moment they're born, kids are like sponges for language, and many parents decide to take advantage of that natural ability by introducing more than one language early. Whether you speak multiple languages at home or want to teach your child a second language, bilingual books are a fun way to introduce kids to new vocabulary and develop fluency! And in the United States, where 45 million people speak Spanish as a first or second language, there's a huge demand for high-quality books that incorporate both English and Spanish text.
To introduce you to many of our favorite bilingual pictures books, we've showcased 25 Spanish/English titles in this post. From simple board books for the littlest babies to more complex picture books for preschoolers and early school aged kids, these books provide an opportunity to introduce multiple languages to young readers — and non-bilingual parents will likely learn a few new words too!
For more books for all ages about Latin American and Latina Mighty Girls, visit our Multicultural Fiction section.
Bilingual Books for Mighty Girls
Listening Time / Momento para escuchar
"Put away the wiggles. Put away the giggles. Listening works better when your body's calm and still." In this fun bilingual board book, with its simple text and colorful pictures, toddlers and young preschoolers learn the basics of how to be good listeners. For even more bilingual board books that teach social skills and manners, check out Feet Are Not for Kicking / Los pies no son para patear; Hands Are Not for Hitting / Las manos no son para pegar; Diapers Are Not Forever / Los pañales no son para siempre; Voices Are Not for Yelling / La voz no es para gritar; Clean-Up Time / Momento de arreglar; Manners Time / Los buenos modales; Calm-Down Time / Momento para calmarse; and Bye-Bye Time / Momento de la despedida.
Counting With / Contando Con Frida
Introduce babies and toddlers to numbers in English and Spanish — and to one of Mexico's groundbreaking artists! In this clever counting book, each number reflects something relating to the story of Frida Kahlo, beginning with "one blue house / una casa azul," and the illustrations draw on Kahlo's style and famous works. With vibrant colors and simple text perfect for little readers, this is sure to be a favorite counting book.
How Do I Love You? / ¿Cómo te quiero?
How many ways does a parent love a child? As the bees love a flower, a duck loves a shower, a bird loves to sing, a bear loves the spring, and even more! This best-selling board book, inspired by the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, is now available in an English / Spanish edition, perfect for families that want to introduce a second language to their children early. With appealing illustrations and poetic but simple text, it's sure to become a fast favorite with your toddler or preschooler. This sweet story is also available in an English only edition.
I Am a Big Sister! / ¡Soy una hermana mayor!
There's no question that becoming a big sister can bring many changes. The little girl in this toddler book discovers that babies come with their share of inconveniences, from remembering to be quiet at naptime to dealing with dirty diapers, but she's still excited by the baby's arrival — and by how grown-up she feels when she realizes how much she can do. Simple text and colorful illustrations help toddlers and preschoolers celebrate the joys of being the big sister, and bilingual families in particular will love this English / Spanish edition.
Hermanas / Sisters
Sisters can be very different from one another — one big, one little; one early riser, one who sleeps in; one who chases fireflies, one who watches stars — but there is one way in which they're the same: they both love the other more than words can say! This classic story that celebrates the trials and joys of sisterhood is now available in an English / Spanish version, perfect for sharing with a new generation of Mighty Girls. Every pair of sisters is sure to find something to relate to in this charming story! This beloved story of sisterly love in also available in an English only edition.
What Can You Do With A Rebozo? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo?
What can you do with a rebozo, a traditional Mexican shawl? Well, you can dance with it or keep warm under it; you can play hide and seek or give it to Mama so she can carry your baby brother; you can use it with your best dress or even turn it into a superhero's cape! In this bilingual edition of What Can You Do With A Rebozo? kids will learn the many uses of this seemingly ordinary shawl in lively English and Spanish text. It's a playful introduction to a household item that you'll find in many Mexican and Mexican-American homes. You can also find this delightful story in an English only edition.
Dalia's Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
Most kids will be familiar with the story of Rapunzel, but that’s not the only flight of fancy with amazing hair! In this story, Dalia wakes up one morning to discover that her hair has grown “tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.” When her mother wonders what Dalia will do with her wondrous hair, Dalia has an idea and starts plastering her hair with mud and leaves. The next morning, when she carefully unwraps her towering hair, it turns out that her hair has been protecting something very special! This imaginative bilingual picture book is sure to charm nature-loving Mighty Girls.
Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret
Margaret speaks only English, and Margarita speaks only Spanish. When their mothers take them each to the park, both complain (in their respective languages) that there’s nobody to play with — until each spots the other. Their mothers assume that their lack of a common language will be a barrier, but as far as the girls are concerned, that just means they have to get a little more creative! By the time playtime is over, each girl knows a few words in the other’s language and their mothers are smiling at the realization that friendship can go beyond words. This clever bilingual picture book celebrates multilingual friendships.
Growing Up With Tamales / Los tamales de Ana
Every year, Ana's family makes tamales for Christmas... and every year, it seems like her older sister, Lidia, is so far ahead of her that she'll never catch up. When Ana is six, she can mix the dough, but Lidia is old enough to spread it in the corn husks; and as the years go on, every time Ana is allowed to try a new step, Lidia is already learning the next one. Finally, though, when Ana is eighteen, she's old enough to do it all — and old enough to be planning her own business, which will deliver her tamales to people around the world. And maybe she'll even let Lidia work for her!
Floating on Mama's Song / Flotando en la canción de mamá
Anita's mother loves to sing — and her songs are so uplifting that, one day, the people and animals who hear her literally float in the air! Mama is delighted: "Singing makes me so happy!" But then Mama stops singing — and the joy leaves Mama's eyes. And when Anita goes hunting for a cure for her Mama's sadness, she finds proof of an unexpected family gift... and a reason Mama's song should rise again. This exuberant and lyrical bilingual story is full of the joy of language and song.
Waiting for the Biblioburro / Esperando el Biblioburro
Even if there aren’t roads, books can still get to eager readers, young and old! Inspired by the story of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, this book tells the story of the most beautiful sight that book-loving Ana has ever seen: a traveling library, brought by a kind man on the backs of two burros. In Colombia, where Soriano works to bring literacy to isolated villages, there are thousands of children just like Ana, who sit and wait excitedly for the Biblioburro to come. This English / Spanish edition of Soriano's story will encourage kids to imagine themselves in rural village's like Ana's, waiting and hoping that the library will be here soon.
¿Has Llenado una Cubeta Hoy? / Have You Filled A Bucket Today?
This award-winning book teaching empathy is now available in a bilingual edition! With the simple metaphor of an invisible bucket, author Carol McCloud explains how you can choose to "fill buckets" by being kind and helpful, or "dip buckets" by being cruel and thoughtless. It's a positive and easy to understand concept that incorporates charity, anti-bullying, appreciation for others, and more! The bilingual edition has won its own awards for multilingual children's books, and incorporating both languages provides an excellent jumping-off point for discussions about diversity and acceptance.
Children get an introduction to groundbreaking artist Frida Kahlo with dreamy, spare language and stunning illustrations in this picture book. Author / illustrator Yuyi Morales keeps her words sparse, focusing on strong verbs like "Soy / I am" and "Veo / I see" to capture Kahlo's unique perspective and artwork. As children follow Kahlo through exquisite photographs by Tim O'Meara, they see her see, search, and finally, create. With simple text that allow unexpected depth and exploration, this book provides a tantalizing look at Kahlo's remarkable world. An author's note in both English and Spanish describes Morales' connection with Kahlo and the enduring impact of her work.
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combina
Marisol doesn't look — or act — like anyone she knows: she has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin, enjoys peanut butter and jelly burritos, and loves being a soccer playing pirate princess! And for some reason, this confuses other people around her, who'd rather that she stop being herself so that she would fit into one of their boxes. But this Peruvian-Scottish-American girl doesn't mind, and she wouldn't give up her "mis-matched" life for anything. With its vibrant illustrations and fun text, this book celebrates individuality and the power of being proud of your uniqueness. Fans of Marisol can check out the sequels: Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash: Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual and Marisol McDonald and the Monster: Marisol McDonald y El Monstruo.
Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez / Lado a lado: La historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez
For years, thousands of farmworkers harvested crops that filled other families' tables, but their own wages were so low, they couldn't afford the bounty they'd helped produce. Then Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez teamed up to lead the workers in protests, strikes, and other action, demanding reasonable working hours, safe working conditions, and fair pay. In fact, it turned out that the workers could do a lot when they stood side by side! This tribute to Huerta and Chavez captures the power of working together to fight for justice; it's an inspiring title no matter which language you read!
We Are Girls Who Love to Run / Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr
These girls share one thing in common: they love running! This celebration of girls and sports celebrates so many things, from the power of friendship to the joy of being a girl, all through the lens of young runners. Whether they are fast or slow, tall or short, a new runner or a seasoned competitor, they all love the feel of the wind in their hair and the ground under their feet as they run, run, run! The final page includes inspiring quotes from women of all ages and backgrounds, exploring their love of running and the lessons they've learned over the many miles. Kids will love the free-spirited feeling captured by the English and Spanish text.
My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral / Me llamo Gabriela: la vida de Gabriela Mistral
Before Gabriela Mistral became the first Latina woman to win a Nobel Prize, she was a Chilean girl who loved words, sounds, and stories. She taught herself how to read, and even chose her own name because she liked how it flowed off the tongue. She grew up to become a beloved teacher, who inspired thousands of children and young adults, and a poet, whose writings inspired millions around the world. In this lyrical picture book biography, kids will learn how Mistral's musical language became beautiful poetry. It's sure to inspire kids to experiment with their own poetry — in English, Spanish, or maybe both!
I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story/ Yo Recuerdo a Abuelito: Un Cuento del Día de los Muertos
It's the Day of the Dead, and this Mighty Girl is excited to celebrate — especially since her beloved abuelito passed away several months ago. But what if Abuelito loses his way? His spirit has never had to travel home before! Fotunately, her mother is able to reassure her that, just like the monarch butterflies know where to go, Abuelito will find his way home too. This sweet story, which is an excellent introduction to the tradition of Día de los Muertos, includes recipes and crafts for a Day of the Dead celebration. For another book about remembering a grandparent on Día de los Muertos, check out A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead/ Un regalo para Abuelita: En celebración del Día de los Muertos for ages 5 to 8.
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que creció en el Bronx
From a young age, Sonia Sotomayor wanted to be a lawyer, but that was a big dream for a young girl in the Bronx. In this bilingual picture book, kids follow her as her mother's love, a desire to learn, and the willpower and bravery to defy all the naysayers, led Sotomayor to overcome obstacles like financial hardship, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father in order to achieve a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Vibrant artwork makes Sotomayor's childhood come alive, while a detailed author's note provides plenty of additional information about her life and career.
Maya's Blanket / La Manta de Maya
When Maya was very, very little, Grandma stitched her a blanket with her own two hands. But as Maya grows, the blanket gets frayed. Fortunately, Grandma is able to rework it each time: into a shirt, a shawl, a scarf, a hair ribbon, and finally, a bookmark. But what will Maya do when she loses her bookmark and the last precious scrap of her blanket is gone? Well... why not write a book about her special blanket — one that preserves its memory and shares it with lots of other little boys and girls — including Maya's own daughter! Inspired by the traditional Yiddish folk song Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl (I Had a Little Coat), this sweet story recognizes the power of creativity and family love.
In My Family / En mi familia
Author Carmen Lomas Garza recounts her fondest childhood memories growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas in this charming story. She remembers special holidays and family dinners; music and dancing at a local restaurant; and even seemingly simple moments like a visit to her grandmother's house. Each scene is illustrated in vivid color and accompanied by a text description of the event in both English and Spanish. Gentle and welcoming, this book captures the extraordinary and everyday moments that make up the stories of a cherished family.
Mamá The Alien / Mamá la Extraterrestre
When Mamá's purse spills one day, Sofia sees a card that describes her mother as a Resident Alien. An alien?! But Mamá looks like a human mother! Sofia is still trying to figure out this mystery when she stumbles upon her mother one night looking like an actual alien... but it turn out that Mamá is just doing a beauty treatment, getting ready for a special day: her citizenship ceremony. That's when Sofia learns that, in English, alien can also mean someone born in a different country. How funny to think that her Mamá really is an alien! This lighthearted book celebrates the milestones of immigration and the importance of family — no matter where that family comes from.
The Storyteller's Candle / La velita de los cuentos
Cousins Hildamar and Santiago are having trouble adjusting to their new home in New York City: the winter of 1929 is cold and harsh, not at all like Puerto Rico. Worst of all, Three King's Day is approaching, and Hildamar is worried about how they can have this special holiday in their new country. Fortunately, a storyteller and librarian named Pura Belpré comes to their classroom and teaches them — and their classmates — about the value of celebrating many different holidays in their diverse community. This lovely introduction to the life of groundbreaking librarian Pura Belpré captures the lasting influence of this advocate for New York's Spanish-speaking communities.
I Love Saturdays y domingos
Weekends are a very special time for this little girl! On Saturdays, she visits Grandma and Grandpa, her European-American family, and on Sundays — los domingos — she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, her Mexican-American grandparents. Each pair of grandparents has their special rituals and treats, and they are different in many ways, but they are the same in one very important respect: they adore their granddaughter and the rest of her loving family. Instead of presenting a family with dual cultures as competing, this family complements and celebrates one another, creating a unique and special atmosphere. While not a strictly bilingual book, the language in this book, like that of the young protagonist, moves between English and Spanish with ease.
Rainbow Weaver / Tejedora del Arcoíris
Ixchel dreams of weaving beautiful fabrics, just like her mother, her grandmother, and generations of other Mayan women have done. But her mother is struggling to weave goods to sell — if she doesn't sell enough, Ixchel can't go to school — so she has no time to teach her, and no extra thread for her to practice. So Ixchel decides to find something she can use, and while her first efforts don't work out, she eventually comes across an inventive solution: if she washes the discarded plastic bags that litter her village, then cuts them into strips, she's not only cleaning up her community: she can also make beautiful rainbow weaving! This bilingual picture book even incorporates some words in Kaqchikel, one of the Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala.
My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz / Me llamo Celia: la vida de Celia Cruz
Celia grew up in Havana, Cuba; she loved to sing and she loved to dance. She built a career, entering every competition she could — even though she was barred from many because of her racial heritage. When Fidel Castro's regime drove her into exile, she moved to Miami and New York City, where she kept singing and dancing... and where she and other musicians like her created a new form of music called salsa. This lyrical bilingual picture book dances through Cruz's story with the same enthusiasm and joy that she displayed on stage.
That's Not Fair: Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice / ¡No es justo!: La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia
Emma Tenayuca grew up in a comfortable life in 1920s San Antonio. But she saw first-hand that others were not so fortunate and the degree of poverty experienced by those working for slave wages at the local pecan-shelling factories. As she grew up, she remained deeply aware of the injustice others suffered, and as a teenager, she spoke movingly on their behalf. When she was 21, the pecan shellers wages were cut even further — from six cents an hour to only three cents an hour — and she decided she had to do more: Tenayuca ended up leading a successful strike by 12,000 pecan shellers. This compelling English and Spanish telling of Tenayuca's story will encourage kids to speak up when they see injustice in their own community.
Finding the Music: En pos de la música
Reyna loves spending time at her mom's restaurant, the hub for a diverse group of customers from her local community. So when she accidentally breaks her abuelito's vihuela, a small guitar-like instrument that has always hung on the wall, Reyna figures one of them can help her fix it. The first few she asks can't help, but they tell her fascinating stories about her abuelito's music...and when she finally talks to the owner of the music store, he not only promises they can fix the vihuela together, he also gives her something precious: a recording of her abuelito, playing the music that brought a community together. This poignant and heartwarming story about a girl learning her family's story is sure to delight young readers.
My Diary from Here to There / Mi diario de aquí hasta allá
Amada hears her parents whispers, debating whether to move to Los Angeles, where there should be better opportunities for the family. She wants to be hopeful, but secretly, she can't stop thinking about how she'll miss the best friend she's leaving behind, her worry that she'll struggle to learn English, and her fear that they'll never return to Mexico. In her diary, she writes about both her travels and her thoughts about the family's journey, until finally, in their new home, Amada realizes that with the love of her family, there's no change she can't weather. Thoughtful and poignant, this English / Spanish telling of one family's immigration is based on author Amada Irma Perez's own experiences.