Standout Topics and Translation | Spanish Series Nonfiction

There’s a lot to get excited about this season, including quality translations and excellent artwork in most of these books. While finding quality books for children in Spanish remains a challenge, this season delivers value, choice, and new perspectives that foster literacy and social-emotional development.

 

While it’s always important to select nonfiction series that include the most up-to-date information, there is a growing need for books that also foster hope, resiliency, empathy, and justice—in every language, for every child. These series rise to the challenge, especially in Amicus/Amicus Illustrated’s “Mi vida con…” (My Life Living With…) and ABDO/ABDO Kids Junior’s “Nuestra personalidad” (Our Personalities). This season also covers bases in other subject areas, but with a specialized twist: readers will love the inspiring visuals in the Jump!/Tadpole series about patterns in nature, as well as the Jump!/Bullfrog books featuring lesser-known types of big cats. There’s a lot to get excited about this season, including quality translations and excellent artwork in most of these books. The majority are a safe bet, and will add even more options for readers who want or need books in their native language, or those who are learning Spanish in the early grades. While finding quality books for children in Spanish remains a challenge, this season delivers value, choice, and new perspectives that foster literacy and social-emotional development.

 

Elementary

Brandle, Marie. Los guepardos (Cheetahs). ISBN 9781645278641.
––––. Los jaguares (Jaguars). ISBN 9781645278665.
––––. Los leones (Lions). ISBN 9781645278689.
––––. Los leopardos (Leopards). ISBN 9781645278702.
––––. Los pumas (Cougars). ISBN 9781645278726.
––––. Los tigres (Tigers). ISBN 9781645278740.
ea vol: 24p. [Los grandes felinos (Big Cats)]. Jump!/Bullfrog. Jan. 2021. Tr. $25.65.
Gr 1-2 –How do different types of big cats survive in the wild? Readers will learn the answer to that question, and much more, thanks to this Spanish series about six species of big cats. The organized layout and simple format of these books make them perfect for beginning readers who are interested in the animal kingdom. Color photographs cover each page and are appropriately placed between words and white space. Captions identify different body parts, like tails and paws, and give examples of how each helps the cats survive in their respective habitats. VERDICT These books will delight cat lovers, and bilingual and Spanish-speaking children deserve an exciting series in their native language.

Colins, Luke. Estegosaurio. ISBN 9781623105426.
––––. Pterodáctilo. ISBN 9781623105419.
––––. Tiranosaurio Rex. ISBN 9781623105440.
––––. Triceratops. ISBN 9781623105433.
Storm, Marysa. Apatosaurio. ISBN 9781623105402.
––––. Velocirraptor. ISBN 9781623105457.
ea vol: 24p. (Los dinosaurios). Black Rabbit/Bolt Jr. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 1-3 –Dinosaurs are popular among lots of readers and a good investment for almost any collection. Unfortunately, this series falls short in a few ways: the format and presentation is somewhat scattered, with fonts in varying sizes and text boxes awkwardly placed, making the information difficult to follow. The font used for the main headings of each chapter may be difficult for some readers to decipher, and some of the text is difficult to see against neon-colored pages. VERDICT This series presents well-translated information and offers definitions of important terms, but is not visually appealing.

Dittmer, Lori. Año Nuevo Chino. ISBN 9781640264380.
––––. Día de Acción de Gracias. ISBN 9781640264489.
––––. Día de la Independencia. ISBN 9781640264458.
––––. Día de los Muertos. ISBN 9781640264403.
––––. Día de San Valentín. ISBN 9781640264496.
––––. Diwali. ISBN 9781640264410.
––––. Janucá. ISBN 9781640264441.
––––. Kwanzaa. ISBN 9781640264465.
––––. Navidad. ISBN 9781640264397.
––––. Noche de Brujas. ISBN 9781640264434.
––––. Pascua. ISBN 9781640264427.
––––. Ramadán. ISBN 9781640264472.
ea vol: 24p. (Semillas del saber). The Creative Company/Creative Education. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.95.
PreS-Gr 2 –This Spanish series introduces basic facts about all kinds of cultural celebrations from across the globe, including Diwali, Easter, Lunar New Year, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, U.S. Independence Day, and more. Page after page of vibrant color photographs of symbols and customs associated with each celebration will engage even the youngest readers, and short, simple sentences make this series ideal for learning essential facts. New words and concepts are bolded to support early literacy and vocabulary development. VERDICT Early childhood education centers should consider.

Doeden, Matt. Dragones (Dragons). ­ illus. by Martín Bustamante. ISBN 9781515883869.
Meister, Cari. Unicornios (Unicorns). illus. by Dan Whisker. ISBN 9781515883845.
ea vol: 32p. [Seres míticos (Mythical Creatures)]. Capstone/Picture Window. Jan. 2021. Tr. $27.99.
K-Gr 2 –Dragons and unicorns are presented in this hi-lo series. While the illustrations are vibrant and exciting, the small text and varying font styles detract from this series’ appeal. Each spread is a little different: some pages offer only pictures, while others feature multiple illustrations, blocks of text, and captions, which some readers may find distracting. Still, the mixture of short and long sections of text may help some readers develop confidence while enjoying adventurous characters. VERDICT Those searching for a Spanish series about mythical creatures should look elsewhere.

Farley, Taylor & Pablo de la Vega. En el estanque. ISBN 9781427131300.
––––. Mis ayudantes comunitarios. ISBN 9781427131355.
Kelly, Miranda & Pablo de la Vega. Amabilidad en el parque. ISBN 9781427131362.
––––. Cuando voy a la playa. ISBN 9781427131379.
––––. Cuando voy al zoológico, ¿qué veo? ISBN 9781427131393.
––––. Mi casa en la ciudad. ISBN 9781427131331.
Silverman, Buffy & Pablo de la Vega. El departamento de bomberos local. ISBN 9781427131317.
Walker, Alan & Pablo de la Vega. Cuando voy al supermercado. ISBN 9781427131386.
––––. Mi hospital. ISBN 9781427131348.
––––. Policía local. ISBN 9781427131324.
ea vol: 24p. (En mi comunidad). Crabtree/Crabtree Seedlings. Jan. 2021. Tr. $23.
PreS-Gr 1 –Readers will recognize places to play, shop, and learn in this series about familiar community locations, such as the zoo, beach, park, supermarket, hospital, a house in the city, and the fire station. Although each book is designed for very early readers, this series offers a range of Lexile levels. For example, in Cuando voy a la playa (When I Go to the Beach), sentences are short and very simple, limited to about seven words per page, while Amabilidad en el parque (Friendship in the Park) offers slightly more complex sentences and concepts. Color photographs correlate with the text on each page and represent diverse identities, ages, and family styles. Each book includes a visual glossary, index, and sample questions that caregivers can use to ensure comprehension. VERDICT A good investment for collections that serve developing English learners who read at different levels.

Hansen, Grace. Jim Henson: Cineasta y titiritero de los “Muppets.” ISBN 9781098204389.
––––. Melania Trump: Primera dama y patrocinadora de “Be Best.” ISBN 9781098204402.
––––. Oprah Winfrey: Líder en los medios de comunicación y filantropía. ISBN 9781098204396.
––––. Selena: Reconocida artista mexicano-americana. ISBN 9781098204419.
––––. Steve Jobs: Pionero en computadoras y cofundador de Apple. ISBN 9781098204426.
––––. Tiger Woods: Multicampeón y grande del golf. ISBN 9781098204433.
ea vol: tr. from English by Maria Puchol. 24p. (Biografías: personas que han hecho historia 4). ABDO/ABDO Kids Jumbo. Dec. 2020. Tr. $29.93.
K-Gr 2 –This series provides readers with up-to-date information on several familiar faces. Each book is divided into six or seven short chapters that outline basic facts, such as the early lives of each personality and their notable accomplishments. A time line of their life, as well as a glossary and index, are also provided at the back of each book. Simple statements of no more than three sentences appear on each page, along with full-color photographs and simple maps or diagrams that provide additional content. Although these books are factually written and easy to understand, it should be noted that the volume about Melania Trump does not provide balanced information about her husband’s time in office, nor does it address the problematic elements of her role as first lady. VERDICT Glossy illustrations make this series enticing, but the lack of historical and social context is a drawback.

Jaycox, Jaclyn. A veces siento alegría. ISBN 9781977133373.
––––. A veces siento enojo. ISBN 9781977133359.
––––. A veces siento preocupación. ISBN 9781977133335.
––––. A veces siento tristeza. ISBN 9781977133397.
ea vol: 24p. (Di lo que sientes). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2021. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 2-4 –Readers will identify with a range of experiences associated with common feelings (happy, angry, worried, sad) in this four-part series. Emotions are defined and explained using examples of common symptoms and situations associated with each. Practical suggestions for how to effectively manage difficult feelings are offered, like talking about worries with trusted adults, asking for help, reading a favorite book, or doing a favorite activity, and a reflection prompt is also included in each book. Format and presentation are balanced, with some pages including only text and others with short captions of text and smaller color photographs. The information presented in these books is simple, making it a great place to start for caregivers and kids who might be struggling, and diversity is represented appropriately. ­VERDICT These books offer comfort and support social-emotional learning to a broad reader audience.

Murray, Julie. Amistad. ISBN 9781098204068.
––––. Autocontrol. ISBN 9781098204082.
––––. Civismo. ISBN 9781098204037.
––––. Empatía. ISBN 9781098204051.
––––. Esperanza. ISBN 9781098204075.
––––. Valor. ISBN 9781098204044.
ea vol: tr. from English by Maria Puchol. 24p. (Nuestra personalidad). ABDO/ABDO Kids Junior. Dec. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
PreS-K –Six positive values (civility, courage, empathy, friendship, hope, and self-control) are presented in this Spanish series for early and developing readers. Each book is divided into five sections that define the concept and give real-world examples of how the value is carried out by familiar faces in the community. The visual glossaries provide a review of each concept, with three or four pictures paired with simple descriptions to ensure comprehension. Each spread includes one photograph and one simple sentence, with new words in bold, and plenty of white space around words. Photographs thoughtfully reflect intersectional diversity and feature a variety of family styles and experiences. ­VERDICT An engaging look at how values make a positive difference in everyday life, this series is a great choice for collections that serve linguistically diverse readers.

Nilsen, Genevieve. Patrones en el bosque (Patterns in the Forest). ISBN 9781645278924.
––––. Patrones en el desierto (Patterns in the Desert). ISBN 9781645278955.
––––. Patrones en el jardín (Patterns in the Garden). ISBN 9781645278986.
––––. Patrones en la playa (Patterns at the Beach). ISBN 9781645279013.
ea vol: 16p. [Patrones en la naturaleza (Patterns in Nature)]. Jump!/Tadpole. Jan. 2021. Tr. $24.21.
PreS-Gr 1 –Patterns and textures take the spotlight in this Spanish series about where to find patterns in all kinds of natural environments, including forests, deserts, gardens, and beaches. Readers as young as three will benefit from full-page color, high-definition close-ups of butterflies, raccoons, ladybugs, honeycomb, and sunflowers, and the visual patterns that exist in each. Caregivers will want to trace and point out dots, stripes, and other visual elements, prompted by short captions on some of the pages that identify patterns using words. Spreads that have no text will inspire on-the-fly dialogic reading between caregiver and child. VERDICT This Spanish series can be easily adapted to different audiences and the emphasis on repetition will help readers develop early literacy and vital visual literacy skills.

Salter, Margaret. ¡No te comas la basura! ISBN 9781427130662.
––––. ¿Dónde está mi hogar? ISBN 9781427130679.
––––. ¿Por qué no puedo dormir? ISBN 9781427130686.
––––. ¿Puedo entrar al Club de los Osos? ISBN 9781427130655.
ea vol: tr. from English by Pablo de la Vega. illus. by Margaret Salter. 32p. (Abrazos de Oso). Crabtree. Jan. 2021. Tr. $27.60.
PreS-Gr 1 –An oso (bear) teaches readers about a variety of practical subjects and life skills in this illustrated Spanish series. What seem like silly stories about an unlikely character are actually about how to make good food and sleep choices, how to make friends, and how to recognize different geographic environments as “home.” In ¡No te comas la basura! (Don’t eat the trash!) the bear learns that eating garbage makes her feel sick, and in ¿Puedo entrar al Club de los Osos? (Can I join the Bear Club?), readers find out what happens when a koala, who has many of the same interests as the bears, wants to join the bear club even though they’re different. In a classic picture book format, each spread offers animated, colorful illustrations and short vignettes of text. Common themes include belonging, inclusivity, self-care, and the concept of home. A lesson guide for caregivers is included in each book. ­ VERDICT These books would be fun for a group read-aloud and can easily be adapted to a bilingual environment.

Schuh, Mari. Las anguilas. ISBN 9781645492337.
––––. Las langostas. ISBN 9781645492344.
––––. Los calamares. ISBN 9781645492375.
––––. Los corales. ISBN 9781645492320.
––––. Los dragones de mar. ISBN 9781645492368.
––––. Los manatíes. ISBN 9781645492351.
ea vol: 16p. (Animales del océano). Amicus/Spot. Jan. 2021. Tr. $27.10.
PreS-Gr 1 –Offering vibrant color photographs and packed with fun facts, these books are about all kinds of ocean life—coral, eels, lobster, shrimp, manatees, and sea dragons. The strength of this series is that the text and photographs align perfectly: each spread features a word and a short statement using that word, prompting readers to make connections between what they see and what they read. The last page of each book shows four close-up pictures and asks, ¿Lo encontraste? (What did you find?), and provides a review of relevant words matched with pictures. A visual glossary with close-up examples is included in each book. VERDICT An ideal update for large collections.

Schuh, Mari. Mi vida con autismo. ISBN 9781645492030.
––––. Mi vida con ceguera. ISBN 9781645492009.
––––. Mi vida con dislexia. ISBN 9781645492054.
––––. Mi vida con síndrome de Down. ISBN 9781645492047.
––––. Mi vida con sordera. ISBN 9781645492016.
––––. Mi vida con TDAH. ISBN 9781645492023.
ea vol: illus. by Isabel Muñoz. 24p. (Mi vida con...). Amicus/Amicus Illustrated. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.95.
K-Gr 3 –Illustrated characters in each of these books represent stories of real children (a short biography and photo of the child is included at the end of each book) who experience different disabilities and types of neurodiversity. Using colorful illustrations, this six-book series gives examples of how kids experience autism, deafness, ADHD, blindness, Down syndrome, and dyslexia. Both challenges and opportunities for how each child encounters and manages their own condition are thoughtfully presented in these books; for example, the book about Zen, who lives with autism, shines light on the sometimes challenging habits and preferences of neurodiverse children but also their strengths and unique talents, like the ability to process information quickly or learn new tasks with ease. Most importantly, the series is told in first person, giving power to each character’s voice and experience and evoking empathy and understanding on the part of the reader. Illustrations reflect racial diversity, translations are accurate, and the dyslexic-friendly font makes this series widely usable and accessible. VERDICT An essential series for virtually any collection.

Taylor, Charlotte. Trabajamos en equipo (We Work as a Team). ISBN 9781538260777.
––––. Yo espero mi turno (I Take Turns). ISBN 9781538260852.
––––. Yo muestro un buen espíritu deportivo (I Show Good Sportsmanship). ISBN 9781538260975.
––––. Yo pido disculpas (I Say I’m Sorry). ISBN 9781538260814.
––––. Yo sigo las reglas (I Follow the Rules). ISBN 9781538260937.
––––. Yo soy justo (I Am Fair). ISBN 9781538260890.
ea vol: tr. from English by Cecilia González Godino. 24p. [Tenemos carácter (We’ve Got Character!)]. Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2021. Tr. $22.60.
K-Gr 3 –This series helps beginning readers navigate some common real-world situations that command discernment and good judgment. Working as teams, taking turns, being a good sport, apologizing, following appropriate rules, and being fair are highlighted in these Spanish books that not only teach good decision-making skills, but also highlight important concepts and vocabulary terms that may be new to some readers. For example, the book about working as teams gives examples of teamwork in sports, but also in school projects and at home, while highlighting potentially new concepts in bold print to distinguish vocabulary in different real-life contexts. What’s great about this series is that it offers practical tips for having good character without moralizing or shaming. Color photos feature children who are racially and ethnically diverse, but unfortunately, children who experience disabilities do not appear in pictures. VERDICT An overall solid choice for classrooms and home libraries.

Youssef, Jagger. ¿Cuál contiene más? / Which Holds More? ISBN 9781538260135.
––––. ¿Cuál es diferente? / Which Is Different? ISBN 9781538260111.
––––. ¿Cuál es más alto? / Which Is Taller? ISBN 9781538260197.
––––. ¿Cuál es más largo? / Which Is Longer? ISBN 9781538260159.
––––. ¿Cuál es más pesado? / Which Is Heavier? ISBN 9781538260210.
––––. ¿Cuál tiene más cantidad? / Which Has More? ISBN 9781538260173.
ea vol: tr. from English by Cecilia González Godino. 24p. (¡Es hora de comparar! / Time to Compare!). Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2021. Tr. $22.60.
PreS-Gr 1 –Math, science, and critical-thinking skills take the spotlight in this stellar Spanish series about making comparisons and using logic to solve problems. Each spread offers a unique opportunity for readers to identify and compare recognizable, everyday objects in relation to each other based on size, color, weight, length, or quantity. The background of each page is white, making these books ideal right off the bat, and text is large, simple, and easy to comprehend. The options for dialogic reading are virtually endless: caregivers will want to use each situation to ask how readers know which object is bigger, or why the red balloon stands out from the rest of the blue balloons. VERDICT This series is ideal for readers who are beginning English learners because of all the opportunities to share open-ended questions and responses.


Although some of these series have mixed reviews, it’s clear publishers are offering better and more consistent Spanish translations in children’s books. With the uncertainty and trauma brought on by the last year, schools and libraries may be looking to purchase more books that will foster social-emotional development. Two great choices are Capstone/Pebble’s “Di lo que sientes” (Tell Me How You’re Feeling) and Gareth Stevens’s “Tenemos carácter” (We’ve Got Character), both of which deliver strategies for managing emotions, how to share feelings and worries with trusted adults, and what to do in difficult social situations.

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