Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Where are the Spanish-Language Toddler Books?

I’m on a quest. My son’s second birthday is coming up this weekend, and I want to find the books for two-year-olds that children read with their parents in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world. So far, the best one I have is a book my in-laws brought up from Mexico when they visited last summer, La Guardaría (The Nursery). I’m ashamed to confess our home library of Spanish and bilingual titles is pretty small and mostly consists of translations from books first published in English.Before I had my own child, I was obsessed with obtaining such books and passing them out to my neighbors; these days, reading my son the ones we were given by family and friends keeps me occupied.

Let me say first off we are just getting into checking out books from the library. Up to now, I haven’t been fully confident we’d be able to send the books back in the same condition we checked them out. We have a stack of five or so from our local library branch, which has a good quantity of kids’ books in Spanish.  Again, many are geared toward older children. My husband (our primary Spanish-speaker) still chose three or four in English to one or two in Spanish.

One would think that in this Internet age, finding Spanish-language books for toddlers would be an easy search. Alas, it has not been so easy for me. I’ll admit my aversion to online shopping increases the challenge, but when Amazon’s Best Spanish-Language Books for Kids kicks off with 11 translations from English, you know you’re in trouble.

The nearest Spanish-language bookstore to my home, Librería Girón in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, does not have a kids’ section that knocks my socks off. The last time we were there, we ended up buying an English-language copy of Thomas and Friends (complete with small plastic trains and a map), but most of the books were Disney knock-offs and such. I left feeling frustrated.

Washington, D.C.’s public television station provides a web site, Colorín Colorado, that has a great selection of preschool and picture books, including stories from Mexico, so it wins the prize for best online resource I’ve found so far. But I’m still looking, so readers’ tips are encouraged.