22 Bilingual and Spanish Picture Books Perfect for Storytime, Read-Alouds, and More

Rebellious veggies, family stories, bath time fun, and more are featured in this roundup of bilingual and Spanish-language picture books.

Rebellious veggies, family stories, bath time fun, and more are featured in this roundup of bilingual and Spanish-language picture books.

Aceituno, David. La rebelión de las verduras. illus. by Daniel Montero Galán. 48p. Beascoa. Mar. 2023. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9788448845025. SP
K-Gr 2
–There is a rebellion brewing in the refrigerator. All of the vegetables are upset that children run and scream from fear when they see vegetables on their plates. Vegetables are constantly left behind on the kids’ unfinished plates, much to their disappointment. Enough is enough! They want to be loved just as much as desserts. While some of the veggies lead the charge, others are considering going on vacation to avoid the rebellion. But just as they are tiring from the rebellion, the refrigerator is opened and a woman and child are visible. A childlike voice is heard requesting vegetables for the meal. This hilarious text is filled with colorful characters that just want to be appreciated. The art is reminiscent of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace’s Little Pea. These veggies have big personalities that will ­remind readers of Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit. This is a great way to expose children to new types of greens, while making them laugh in the process. VERDICT Definitely a text that will be enjoyed by older children with some reading proficiency; this would also make for a fun read-aloud.–Melanie Ortega

Acosta, Alicia. Una habitación muy ruidosa. illus. by Lucía Serrano. 40p. Editorial Flamboyant. Feb. 2023. Tr $18.96. ISBN 9788419401021. SP
K-Gr 2–Pepino has a huge problem. He is a light sleeper. Every sound he hears prevents him from falling asleep. He decides to move far away from the noise of the city into the country. There, the sound of the wind keeps him up at night. The next day, his elderly neighbor, noticing the dark bags under his eyes, proceeds to give him advice on what to do. Night after night, he follows her instructions. Pretty soon, Pepino has a whole barn of animals inside his room making all kinds of noises while he tries to sleep. Once all the animals are gone and all that remains is the sound of the wind, he is finally able to get some rest. With similarities to the Yiddish folktale “It Could Be Worse,” this humorous story will have readers not only practicing their animal sounds but also appreciating the importance of good neighbors. VERDICT This text could potentially be the most fun read-aloud in the entire school library. Purchase for all Spanish-language shelves.–Melanie Ortega

Archer, Micha. Caminantes curiosos. illus. by Micha Archer. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. Apr. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593616741. SP
Gr 1-3–This Spanish translation of the Caldecott Honor title is just as stunning. Two young travelers set out on a walk to explore nature with a fresh and wonder-filled perspective. They ask questions like “Is the ground the skin of the earth?” and “Are roots the feet of plants?” The book’s collage illustrations, unchanged from the original, are beautiful and vivid, easily drawing in readers and encouraging them to explore the natural wonders that exist all around us. The lyrical Spanish text is spare and leaves space for kids to ponder as they examine the intricate art. VERDICT Engaging. A good choice where the English edition is popular.–Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Argueta, Jorge. Tierra, Tierrita/Earth, Little Earth. tr. by Elizabeth Bell. illus. by Felipe ­Ugalde Alcántara. 32p. (Madre ­Tierra/Mother Earth: Bk. 4). Piñata Bks. May 2023. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781558859678. BL
PreS-Gr 2
–Mother Earth is all around, in every mineral, plant, and animal—from dawn to sunset, from water to fire. Acclaimed Nahua poet Argueta follows up his previous nature-themed picture books (most recently Viento, vientito) with this rumination on Mother Earth with Indigenous cosmovision at its heart. The one- to five-line Spanish-language verses, set on a light brown background on the verso page, progress through the book as if the words in black type were living beings, pouring gratitude to the one mother of all. The verses are separated by Mesoamericanlike iconography. The English translation emulates the emotions of the Spanish narrative, expressing the message of the need for a healthy ecosystem. The colored pencil illustrations on the recto pages communicate the book’s ambiance with detailed depictions that will resonate for children. This book could be read alongside Argueta’s picture book Fuego, fueguito in a climate action or environmental-themed story time. The back matter includes the entire poem in Nahuatl. VERDICT An environmental picture book that connects young children with the positive emotions drawn from Mother Earth as the creator of all life.–Kathia Ibacache

Colato Laínez, René. Do I Belong Here/¿Es este mi lugar? illus. by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. 32p. Arte Publico Pr. May 2023. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781558859685. BL
Gr 1-4
–René goes to school for the first time and is very confused. He is trying to find his classroom, but the teachers and students don’t speak Spanish. When he arrives, he tries to understand what is being asked of him and takes the tests he is given, but is laughed at and gets a big red F. He feels like he doesn’t belong. With time, his Spanish-speaking friend Carlos and his soccer-loving friend Robert help him with his assignments and play with him at school. He thinks that maybe he belongs. As even more time passes, he is able to start reading and writing in English. His class cheers for him when he aces his spelling test. He finally feels as if he really does belong. When a new classmate joins the school only knowing Spanish, he reassures her that with time, she, too, will belong. VERDICT A bilingual text that offers an empathetic look at how immigrant children start to learn little by little, and adapt to their surroundings and friends. Recommended for all shelves.–Melanie Ortega

David, Elias. Mis días con Papá/Spending Time with Dad. illus. by Claudia ­Delgadillo. 32p. Arte Publico Pr. May 2023. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781558859692. BL
Toddler-PreS–A little boy shares his daily routine with his stay-at-home dad and working mom. His dad helps him with the usual rituals by sharing traditional rhymes while giving them an unconventional twist, blending English and Spanish words. Both texts provide the same blending of the traditional rhymes. Bilingual readers will appreciate the ease with which code switching occurs. The author provides a shift in traditional norms of what families can look like while still offering readers comfort in seeing a familiar structure in the day. The soft palette of the illustrations is perfect for the intended audience. VERDICT This relatable story is a recommended purchase.–Erika Villaherrera

De la vega, J. Wepa. illus. by J. de la Vega. 40p. Lil’ Libros. May 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781948066549. BL
PreS-Gr 2
–Mia Emilia Lucia Renata is an active little girl with a big name. She views herself as exceptional, fashionable, and creative. Unfortunately, the grown-ups in her life label her flaws as clumsy, loud, and messy. While in the beginning of the story Mia appears tall and proud, the negative words from her loved ones diminish her. The only person who expressively values Mia is her abuela, who tells her that she simply has too much “wepa.” While this word, commonly used in Latin America does not have a literal English translation, the story describes it as magic. Wepa is meant to be shared with others. As Mia embraces her wepa, she returns to her essence as the exceptional little girl she believed herself to be. The quirky illustrations are bright and colorful, representative of the main character’s point of view. The palette of pinks and teals give the book a fun, childlike appeal. Abuela sports an afro and big teal glasses. The book identifies symptoms of ADHD without labeling them as such. Instead, the focus is on Mia’s perspective and how she is seen by others; children will be able to relate to her and her problems. Mia has light brown skin and curly brown hair. An author’s note to adults encourages them to dismantle “chancla culture,” or the practice of punishing children by hitting them with a physical object, like a slipper. VERDICT This little book preaches an important message of acceptance and respect without didacticism. Purchase for all bilingual shelves.– Erika Villaherrera

Genhart, Michael. El español es la lengua de mi familia. illus. by John Parra. 40p. Holiday House/Neal Porter. Jul. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823454464. SP
K-Gr 3–Little Michael signs up for the annual Spanish spelling bee offered at his school, and he is excited about entering because Spanish is the language that his family speaks. He practices various words with the help of his family members, especially his grandmother. As they practice, his abuela tells stories about how she and her friends were only allowed to speak English at school or they would be punished, sent home, or hit with a paddle. As Michael wins the spelling bee, he knows that he and his family win more than just a ribbon, but they also win healing and love. Parra’s art is impeccable, offering rich conversations even within the illustrations. VERDICT A beautifully designed read-aloud that celebrates the importance of knowing more than one language, while also shedding light on what first-generation immigrants went through to make that possible today.–Melanie Ortega

Genhart, Michael. Que tu vida sea deliciosa. illus. by Loris Lora. 40p. Vintage Español. May 2023. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781644738184. SP
K-Gr 2
–Rosi and her family love ­Nochebuena because that’s when her family gathers in Abuela’s kitchen to make tamales. Each family member has a task to accomplish for the night as they prepare the tamales using a family recipe. Some special ingredients include protection and security, pride, love and care, and many hugs. Every tamale has one olive at the center that is hugged by the yummy flesh of the tamale. Everyone’s favorite moment of night is when the tamale leaves are opened and it’s time to dig in. This beautifully illustrated text reminds readers of the importance of family and sharing a meal together. The digital jewel-toned illustrations capture the joy and warmth of every family scene. VERDICT The visual representation of traditions being handed down through generations makes this a powerful read-aloud for the holidays and beyond. –Melanie Ortega

Henriques, Ricardo. 1o a la derecha. illus. by Nicolau. 64p. Editorial Destellos. May 2023. Tr $14. ISBN 9781958479926. SP
K-Gr 2
–A mysterious man has moved to the first floor of an apartment building. “Is he a thief or a master supervillain?” wonders a young Black girl who spends her days looking through a window. She loves to observe people across the floors and those walking on the street. This new tenant, who appears to write constantly, unknowingly triggers her detective skills. Although her dad calls out her indiscretion, the girl’s investigative curiosity elevates her desire to explain and resolve. Nicolau illustrates neighborhood scenes that creatively showcase the lively activities of the many ­characters ­walking by or living near the main character. Translated from Portuguese, the Spanish-language narrative sometimes reads awkwardly. The text will be most enjoyed by those who are very proficient and comfortable reading in Spanish because of its complex phrasing . The full-spread, monochromatic orange art wonderfully depicts the busy people in this story, providing an excellent experience for those who enjoy detail-oriented illustrations. Readers learn why the girl spends so much time by the window at the end of the story. VERDICT A charming detective picture book for curious children who enjoy decoding visual clues.–Kathia Ibacache

Hernandez, Zaida. Luz Lucero, niña astronauta. illus. by Karla Monterrosa. 40p. Lil’ Libros. Mar. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781948066457. SP
Gr 1-3
–A sweet and informative bilingual picture book that details the training a girl astronaut has to undergo to make it to space. Texan Luz Lucero, only eight years old, is selected as the first kid to ever go to the moon. She must endure strenuous prep, meeting a mechanical engineer, food scientist, scuba diver, linguist, flight controller, lunar scientist, computer programmer, and space suit engineer, learning about each aspect of space travel along the way. Sometimes the nonfiction aspect of the narrative bogs down the tale, but kids fascinated by the subject will happily push through. The majority of the diverse crew of experts are women. Luz is depicted as a wavy-haired girl with light brown skin, red glasses, and a chipped tooth, reminiscent of Encanto’s Mirabel. The digital art is bright and saturated with vivid pinks and indigos, with Luz’s wonder obvious on every page. The font has a futuristic, sci-fi feel, adding to the overall experience. Author and illustrator’s notes in the back matter encourage kids to pursue STEM fields. VERDICT The combination of the appealing art, focus on women in STEM, and charming premise, will make this a fun choice for space-themed read-alouds.– Shelley M. Diaz


Isern, Susanna. La bruja que no quería una escoba (de las de barrer). illus. by ­David Sierra. 48p. Beascoa. Jul. 2023. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9788448863876. SP
Gr 1-4
–Petra is a very talented witch who has created a youth potion. When the famous great wizard Linus invites all the witches to his Moon Mansion, she flies on her magic broom to compete against all them. She wants to be chosen as the great wizard’s disciple. Finally, when it’s Petra’s turn to show her strength, she presents her potion and is selected! The days go by, and instead of receiving new lessons from Linus, she receives a list of chores. One night, while she’s cleaning for a wizard party, she finds a room full of secrets; among them is that Linus has stolen her youth potion and will claim that it’s his. With her intelligence and knowledge of magic, Petra reveals the truth. This is a tale about a brilliant witch who has the opportunity to stand up for herself, and others against a famous wizard who swindles everyone. The art is fun, with bright colors and expressive faces. Kids will be get excited with every page turn. VERDICT A charming read-aloud.–Melanie Ortega

LIU-TRUJILLO, Robert. Jugo Fresco. ­illus. by Robert Liu-Trujillo. 32p. Lee & Low. Jul. 2023. pap.$11.95. ISBN 9781643796697. SP
Gr 1-4
–Art and his father journey through the neighborhood seeking fresh ingredients to make a healing juice for the older man. At the market, neighbors offer various products from different places that are good for making a juice. In the end, Art and his stepfather create the juice and recognize that “community” is the most important ingredient for this home remedy. The illustrations are rich in diversity, as the ingredients come from different cultures. The found ingredients tie in with the storyline of community and an appreciation of various cultures. The relationship between the two main characters is evident, and the lyrical text brings the message home without didacticism. Back matter includes a recipe. VERDICT This essential story conveys the warmth of community in just one serving.–Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Mazo, Margarita del. El rebaño. illus. by Guridi. 40p. NubeOcho. Apr. 2023. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9788419253255. SP
PreS-Gr 1
–Sheep have four primary duties: sightseeing, eating, sleeping, and helping children fall asleep. But one night, when Miguel is trying to doze off, one of the sheep, Cuatro (the only black sheep), opposes her task. It’s not for lack of care. Cuatro simply changes her mind and refuses to follow the status quo. As Miguel tries to keep his eyes open, Cuatro receives a mysterious letter that prompts the strong-willed sheep to take a leap. Initially presented as a simple counting picture book in lyrical Spanish, this book has more to offer than meets the eye. The allegory-based plot in first-person narration shows a sheep that does not want to comply with predetermined rules established without her input. Out-of-the-box thinking could lead to the solution that everyone seeks. An open ending will elicit curiosity and reflection from readers. The art is set in a mixture of spreads and single-page illustrations that highlight the main characters, utilizing a green pasture over a white background as a unifying element throughout. The Spanish text is underlined, with some phrases in bold for emphasis. There are lots of opportunities for call and answer here, making this a great choice for a participatory bedtime story time. VERDICT A singular picture book for curious kids who appreciate layers of meaning and reflection in their stories—and just the right amount of silliness.–Kathia Ibacache

Meza, Erika. Valiente como un león. illus. by Erika Meza. 32p. Candlewick. May 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536225075. SP
K-Gr 2–A little girl learns to be brave with the help of a lion only she is able to see. No matter where she goes, her lion is always there. When she is scared to speak or say sorry, her lion gives her the courage to find her voice. When it is dark at night, her lion protects her. He is there when she needs him most, especially on park adventures. As she climbs the slide that looks taller with every step she takes, her legs start to feel weak. When she looks down, it’s decided: she and her lion will stay at the top of the slide until the end of the world! She looks back and sees that her lion is scared, too; she knows she needs to be brave for him. They can be brave together. Up and down, back and forth, they make a great team. This poignant read-aloud will remind readers that they can conquer their fears, whether big or small. The bright and vivid illustrations will enchant and inspire. VERDICT A charming text that all readers can relate to and which will help them find the bravery within.–Melanie Ortega

Ortega, Mirelle. Magia: En una tierra muy lejana. illus. by Mirelle Ortega. 40p. Vintage Español. Apr. 2023. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781644737958. SP
Gr 1-4–A celebration of family and culture that encourages young readers to believe in the magic of their heritage. A narrator shares her love for the pineapple farm owned by her grandfather in Veracruz, Mexico, which has brought their family beauty and happiness. Readers will be drawn into this world through the narrator’s engaging first-person perspective. The enchantment of this far-off land permeates every area of her life. From family celebrations to moments of grief, every event is influenced by the power that comes from the land of her ancestors. The lyrical language, rhythmic flow, and rich vocabulary make this a wonderful read-aloud. The narrative has an intimate feel, as if the narrator herself is whispering to readers as they discover the magic in her life. A blue wave threads through the text, casting a glow on every page of the bright pastel and jewel-tone colors. The renderings offer another layer to the story, fleshing it out. Through these pictures, readers learn how the pineapple farm and family remain important despite time and distance. The wonder continues as the narrator grows up and moves to San Francisco where she still appreciates the magic in her life. Diversity within Mexico is represented with different skin tones and hair colors of members of the family. Pineapples can be seen hidden throughout, and touchstones of Mexican culture are highlighted, such as Day of the Dead celebrations, mariachi, piñatas, and banners made of papel picado. VERDICT A beautiful ode to home that will resonate with children of all ages. A must purchase.– Erika Villaherrera

Pérez-Sauquillo, Vanesa & Sara Sánchez. La fiesta del baño/A Bath Time Party. 24p. (Grandes Pasitos/Big Baby Steps). Beascoa. Jun. 2023. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9788448863685. SP
–A young mermaid celebrates her birthday by giving everyone a bath. In this sweet book, Marena enumerates all of the items that took a bath with her for her birthday, ranging from her mom and sunflower to a shark and feces. The text follows the same pattern throughout. The preschooler mentions two things that were bathed in celebration of her birthday, asks a question about whether another item, like ice cream, a circle, or square, also took a bath. When she receives the affirmative from an unseen speaker, an image of the aforementioned item ­appears on the next page (often s­porting a bath towel). The digital illustrations look ­penciled in, with a limited use of color and lots of white space. The charming and sometimes odd text will elicit giggles and possibly shrieks. The rhyming lines have the potential to lead to call and ­response. VERDICT Highly recommended to shelve with other silly bathtime reads; ideal for little ones who need to be coaxed into the nightly ritual. –Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Rodman, Mary Ann. Un árbol para Emmy. illus. by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. 32p. Peachtree. Jul. 2023. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781682635476. SP
Gr 1-3–Emmy is a tree lover. She enjoys her days with her grandmother’s silk tree, which turns out to be very much like Emmy—tall, stubborn, and a little wild. The little girl decides she wants a wild tree of her own. To her disappointment, they don’t sell those kinds of trees at stores. She almost gives up, but eventually, Emmy finds a small shoot of a wild tree and plants it in her own yard. Emmy has white skin and brown hair. The colorful collage art presents each step in her search, sometimes using insets shaped as hearts and always filled with emerald greens. ­ VERDICT A lovely and joyous picture book that highlights overcoming obstacles with determination and patience; it also celebrates the importance of taking care of the environment.– Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Uhlberg, Myron. Una tormenta llamada ­Katrina. illus. by Colin Bootman. 40p. Peachtree. Jul. 2023. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781682635483.SP
Gr 1-4
–Louis Daniel and his family must find a way back home after suffering through the devastation of Hurricane ­Katrina. They first float to safety and then find their way to the Superdome where it’s very crowded and dangerous. Louis Daniel gets separated from his father as things get more challenging. The boy makes a four-legged friend along the way. After many challenges, they finally find their way home thanks to Louis Daniel and his cornet. The family is Black, in keeping with the large population of Black people in New Orleans who were affected by the tragedy. The old-fashioned artwork is made of dark, murky colors very fitting for the subject. Still, the carefree illustrations with Louis Daniel and his dog offer a sliver of hope and joy. VERDICT An important story of survival and small victories during devastating times. A good choice for Spanish-language shelves looking for realistic and historical works.–Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Velasquez, Eric. Buscando a Bongo. illus. by Eric Velasquez. 32p. Holiday House. Jun. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823453993. SP
PreS-Gr 3
–A young boy loses his stuffed animal Bongo and searches all around the house asking about him. He asks his ­mother, father, grandmother, cat, and dog, and no one seems to know where he is. ­Finally, he finds Bongo near the bongos (a small hand drum used commonly in ­Caribbean music). The artwork is lively and detailed. Thoughtful attention to detail is seen throughout, with nods to the family’s Afro-Caribbean heritage and love for music and art found in the background. The relatable preschooler and his search for his stuffy will resonate with children, and the painterly, realistic illustrations ground the narrative. Soft browns and tans and spots of red add a layer of warmth to the reading experience. Discerning readers might find Bongo before his ­owner. The family is Black, and the little boy sports an afro. VERDICT Much-needed representation and a universal problem make this sweet, family-centered tale a must for Spanish-language picture book shelves.– Lissette Perez-Hernandez

Vieira Mendes, José Maria. ¿Para qué sirve? tr. from Portuguese by Jacqueline Santos Jimenez. illus. by Madalena Matoso. 64p. Editorial Destellos. May 2023. Tr $16. ISBN 9781958479902. SP
PreS-Gr 2
–This philosophical exploration of each item’s utility and reason for being will go over adults’ heads but make complete sense to inquisitive children. A pink-faced narrator asks, “What is it for?” to an unidentified group of people. “It” refers to simple tools like a paint roller, scissors, and a mirror. The book goes on to identify items that are named by its function, such as nail clippers or toothbrushes. The narrative gets more existential with every page turn. Are there things that have no use? What’s the use of a painting or a rhinoceros? Does something have to be useful to have a use? Every few pages, the unnamed narrator recaps the questions and resolutions discussed up until then. Kids will enjoy answering the questions and the discussions that may ensue because of them. The candy-colored illustrations are arresting and fun to look at. The kaleidoscopic landscapes and figures bring to mind Byron Barton’s artwork. The figures are childlike, with some characters having rectangles for bodies and others having orange, yellow, or purple skin tones. VERDICT Perfect as a read-aloud or for imagination stretching, this quirky book will make for rich discussions and mind-blowing conclusions.–Shelley M. Diaz

Wallace, Adam. Pero ¿por qué no te duermes? tr. from English by Rocio Rincon Fernandez. illus. by Carla Martell. 24p. Random/Editorial Molina. Jul. 2023. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9788427233638. SP
PreS-Gr 1
–A friendly green monster talks to an unidentified audience who does not want to fall asleep. This monster knows some tricks that could help. Readers may count sheep, listen to a loud lullaby, and pull up their sheets; if nothing works, readers may dance or exercise. Another solution that could work is listening to a Halloweenlike story in rhyme. This humorous book combines is an interactive story that makes counting fun. The simple first-person narrative is made up of speech bubbles and regular prose, a design that aptly reflects that conversational style. They are arranged all over the pages, signaling the chaotic ambiance surrounding a wakeful child. The large font is perfect for a story time activity, attracting attention to the bold words highlighted in the story. The digital crayon-based illustrations rely on bright composite colors to accompany the lime green monster. The art provides a jocose environment throughout that perfectly accompanies the playful plot. There are instances in the Spanish translation of ­awkward phrasing, but that won’t deter readers. VERDICT A lighthearted picture book and eccentric bedtime story for those who want a laugh before dozing off.–Kathia Ibacache


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