Kid-Approved Themes for Spanish and Bilingual Storytimes | Libro por libro

Looking for ways to create a monstrously good storytime with bilingual or Spanish-language picture books? Tim Wadham presents sample storytimes suggestions, complete with music and craft ideas.

Illustrations by Sara Palacios from Monica Brown’s
Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo ©2016

Excellent Online Resources

The following sites feature finger plays and rhymes to use with any of these storytime themes. There are also lots of resources and links on these sites for planning many different bilingual storytimes.



Utah State Library

School will soon be out, and that means that public libraries will be planning their storytime programs for the fall. Teacher librarians will also be looking for new material to purchase and share with their students when school starts again. It’s a perfect time to launch a Spanish-language or bilingual storytime. Here are a few themed storytime ideas for use in school and public libraries, complete with rhymes, finger plays, and craft activities.


CAMPOY, F. Isabel & Theresa Howell. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. illus. by Rafael López. HMH. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544357693. Gr 2-5 –This book is illustrated by the same person who inspired it. López has been a stellar figure in the world of children’s book art, and this fictional picture book tells his story. It begins with a girl named Mira (translation: look), who tries to make her city less gray by giving colorful drawings to the people in the neighborhood. She meets a man (López), whose pocket is full of paintbrushes. He looks at the dull gray walls and sees something beautiful. He gives Mira a brush. She paints and the neighbors join in, painting and dancing and singing to Latin rhythms. The illustrator’s artwork sweeps across the page in splashes of vibrant color. This text has an appealing cadence that makes it a wonderful choice for read-alouds and storytimes. In an author’s and illustrator’s note, along with photos of López’s art, the real story of the murals is recounted. WALSH, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Paint/Pintura de ratón. illus. by author. HMH. 2010. Board. $4.99. ISBN 9780547333328. PrS-K–Pair Maybe Something Beautiful with this bilingual board book edition of Walsh’s classic. The conceit is simple yet brilliant. When three white mice discover three jars of paint—the jars containing the primary colors red, yellow, and blue—the stage is set for children to learn how mixing the colors in different ways creates entirely new but familiar colors. Walsh presents the information in an entertaining way, showing the paints mixed up through the mice’s mishaps. PAINT CRAFT: Provide rojo, amarillo, and azul paints, crayons, or markers and blank sheets of paper for drawing. Have the children create morado, verde, and anaranjado with these three primary colors, just like the mice. MURAL CRAFT: Roll out a large piece of butcher paper on the floor. Let the children kneel around the paper and create a mural like the one from Maybe Something Beautiful. Perhaps you could give each child a specific assignment for their section of the mural. The resulting artwork could be displayed on a wall in the library or classroom. SONG: Play “De Colores,” a traditional Mexican song. A terrific version can be found on the CD De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children by Jose-Luis Orozco, which is also available for download on iTunes. It is the custom for everyone to hold hands while singing.


BROWN, Monica. Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. illus. by Sara Palacios. Children’s Book Pr. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780892393268. K-Gr 3 –Marisol McDonald is concerned about the monster under her bed. The biracial little girl loves words that begin with the letter M. All except for the word monster. Marisol wonders about monsters: What do they look like? Do they have mothers? She decides to make her own monster—a nice one named Melodia. Brown creates a story that follows the musings of a child’s imagination as she works through the concept of monsters and scary things that bump in the night. Palacios’s illustrations capture that same sense of imagination gone wild, beginning with the clever endpapers depicting a child’s drawings of fantastic characters. There is a life to these drawings, and her depiction of Marisol herself helps to create a multifaceted character with a full range of emotions. STOWER, Adam. ¡Gruñon! illus. by author. Picarona. 2016. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9788416117376. K-Gr 3 –If you are looking for a great monster story, look no further. Troll is Oliver’s best friend. Together they run a troll café where Oliver bakes delicious cakes that the trolls absolutely love. When Oliver’s little sister Dolly suddenly disappears, the trolls look everywhere. Everywhere, that is, but the mountain where the Gruñon lives. Oliver thinks that they can gain the Gruñon’s favor with a large cake. After following the Gruñon’s footprints to the mountain and climbing to the top, they discover Dolly and also the Gruñon, who is large and scary, as advertised. ¡Gruñon! is a perfect book for storytime. It gives opportunities for voices and has all the suspense and action a young reader could want. SENDAK, Maurice. Donde viven los monstruos (Where the Wild Things Are). illus. by author. tr. by Teresa Mlawer. HarperCollins Español. 1996. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780064434225. PreS-Gr 2 –“Wild Things” become “monsters” in the Spanish translation of Where the Wild Things Are. This book requires no annotation. It is worth noting, however, that this translation is by the incomparable Mlawer, and her stellar work makes this ideal for reading aloud in bilingual storytimes. MASKS CRAFT: You can find a monster mask craft and other ideas for your bilingual or Spanish monster storytime here.

Under the Sea

DIESEN, Deborah. El pez pucheros. illus. by Dan Hanna. Farrar. 2016. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780374305055. PreS-K –This is a Spanish-language translation of the popular The Pout-Pout Fish. It is hard to deny the cuteness of this pouty fish, despite his despondency. Fortunately, this colorfully illustrated board book shows how the Pout-Pout fish learns that having a pouty face all the time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As a bonus for librarians, he learns this in a rhyming text that’s fun to read aloud. LIONNI, Leo. Nadarín (Swimmy). illus. by author. tr. by Teresa Mlawer. Lectorum. 2005. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781930332805. PreS-Gr 2 –Any bilingual storytime about sea creatures is not complete without this classic book by Lionni. Swimmy is the odd fish out—the lone black fish in a school of red fish. He stands in for any kid who has felt different. Swimmy’s tale shows how anyone, no matter what their differences may be, can find a way to use their unique skills to make a contribution. MUÑOZ RYAN, Pam. Hello Ocean/Hola mar. illus. by Mark Astrella. w/CD. Live Oak Media. 2012. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781430111351. PreS-Gr 2 –Muñoz Ryan creates a rhyming text in both Spanish and English that captures the awe of a young girl discovering the ocean. The photographic realism of the illustrations provides a feast for the eyes, while at the same time the story’s protagonist is using each of her senses to take in her experience. OCEAN CREATURE CRAFT: Make a colorful octopus with pipe cleaners, a paper plate, and fuzzy pom-poms or googly eyes. And while you have those googly eyes out, why not do handprint crabs? MUSIC: Here’s a chance to listen to a song from a crab with whom kids should be very familiar: Sebastian! There’s a fun Spanish-language version of the song “Under the Sea” (“Bajo el mar”) from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Into the Woods

ARENA, Jen. Marta! Big & Small. illus. by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626722439. PreS-Gr 2 –One of SLJ’s Top Latinx books for 2016, this is a prime example of how to write a bilingual book. Marta is an ingenious kid as well as an intrepid jungle explorer. Her travels introduce readers to a variety of animals and help kids learn concepts like opposites as well as new Spanish and English vocabulary. And if that were not enough, Marta uses her intelligence to avoid being eaten by a snake. MIYAKOSHI, Akiko. La merienda en el bosque. illus. by author. Lectorum. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9786074009002. PreS-Gr 2 –This is a Spanish translation of this Japanese author’s gentle fairy tale, The Tea Party in the Woods. With echoes of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Kikko volunteers to take a pie to her father who is on the way to Kikko’s grandmother’s house in the woods. Instead of a hungry wolf, the child comes upon a mysterious house, occupied by a lamb, who assumes that Kikko has arrived for the tea party. This tale ends on a note of magical realism, causing readers to question whether what just occurred is real or just part of Kikko’s imagination. MUSIC: Get the Spanish-language soundtrack for Disney’s Into the WoodsEn el bosque. Play the title song and lead the children around the storytime area as if they are journeying “into the woods” on an ­adventure. Save Save Save
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Gabriela Simmons

We have developed a new creative idea to help bilingual families read in two languages. Bilingual Books than can be personalized. Children, especially smaller children, prefer reading and understand more if the book is about them. This is why with TimTimTom books the reader can choose two languages, customize the name and the look of the child. Hence, the book becomes a keepsake no other child has. Many school libraries have our books, as they noticed a lack of books portraying diverse characters as the hero of the book. We would love to give you more information.

Posted : Sep 14, 2017 09:09



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing