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Water Cooler: Bilingual reading for the whole family

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 29, 2021

One great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to learn a bit of Spanish. Here are a few books you can read together as a family that include text in both English and in Spanish.

“What Can You Do With a Rebozo?/¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo?” written by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Amy Cordova – Rebozo, translated in English to “shawl,” is a popular garment in Mexico that is worn in various ways, usually around the shoulders or over the head. Learn more about these traditional shawls through the eyes of a young girl as she discovers all the amazing ways a rebozo can be used, like wearing it as a superhero cape or using it to swaddle a baby.

“Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” written by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raul Colón – Doña Flor lives in the American Southwest in a small village. She is loved by her neighbors and the local children. She often reads aloud to them and lets them use her flowers and leftover tortillas for fun activities. One day a frightening noise is heard just outside the village. In order to protect her beloved neighbors, Flor decides to set out and find the creature responsible for the big, terrifying noise.

“Señorita Mariposa,” written by Ben Gundersheimer and illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero – Follow the incredible journey of the monarch butterfly as it leaves Canada and flies south over snow-capped mountains to arrive in the warm forests of Mexico.

“Cerca / Close,” written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Blanca Gómez – A little girl spends her day noticing things that are close to each other. For example, she notices that, “My bedroom is close to the kitchen,” or in Spanish, “Mi cuarto está cerca de la cocina.”

“La Princesa and the Pea,” written by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal – A fresh and bilingual twist on a classic story with artwork inspired by the culture and art of Peru. El príncipe is in love with la princesa, but his mother, the queen, doesn’t approve of his love interest. In order to prove she is truly a princesa after all, the queen plans a secret test. What she doesn’t know is that her son has a secret plan of his own as well.

“Juana and Lucas,” written and illustrated by Juana Medina – Juana loves drawing, hanging with her dog, dancing, living in Colombia and all sorts of things. However there is one thing she doesn’t love so much – learning English. One day, her abuelos decide to provide her with a little incentive and offer to take her on a special trip. The catch is that she’ll have to speak English in order to go, prompting her to give it another shot.

“El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale,” written by Derek Taylor Kent and illustrated by Jed Henry – Pepe used to be a lonely dog living on the streets, but one day he donned a sombrero and everything changed. His new sombrero made him a star. He is now loved by everyone – everyone except one jealous kitty.

“How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo Se Dice?” written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez – Two young giraffes meet and quickly become friends, or in Spanish, amigos. This tale highlights the universality of friendship and its ability to span across the world’s languages.

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