Titles for a Tune-Filled Bilingual Storytime | Libro por libro

As with children’s books for, by, or about Latinos, the market for children’s music in Spanish has been mostly overlooked. Here are a few new and not-so-new wonderful titles.
Above illustration from LITTLE CHICKIES/LOS POLLITOS by Susie Jaramillo, published by Canticos/Encantos Media.

Above illustration from LITTLE CHICKIES/LOS POLLITOS
by Susie Jaramillo, published by Canticos/Encantos Media.

Hablar/Talk. Cantar/Sing. Leer/Read. Escribir/Write. Jugar/Playing.

These are the basic tenets of Every Child Ready To Read 2 (ECRR2). Yet one of these, singing, can be challenging to meet, as it can be difficult to find songs in Spanish to incorporate into library programs or to have in our collections for families to borrow. As with children’s books for, by, or about Latinos, the market for children’s music in Spanish has been mostly overlooked. Here are a few new and not-so-new wonderful titles.



CANETTI, Yanitzia, sel. Uno dos tres: My First Spanish Rhymes. illus. by Patrice Aggs. Frances Lincoln. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781847801937. PreS-Gr 2 –With 25 simple rhymes from the Spanish-speaking world and an included CD, this book is a good resource for families and program planners. The book has been divided into eight different categories such as “A Day on the Farm” (“¡A la granja!”) and “Bedtime” (“¡A dormir!”) that will be useful in planning storytimes. Children and adults alike will find the CD helpful. The rhymes are recited slowly, sometimes twice, then followed by the musical version. COLATI LAÍNEZ, René. Señor Pancho Had a Rancho. illus. by Elwood Smith. Holiday House. 2013. ISBN 9780823426324. PreS-Gr 2 –I usually shy away from English song translations, but this bilingual (or Spanglish) version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” is such a riotous one, it is hard to resist. More than a translation, it is two stories taking place side by side, one on the left-hand page, the other on the right. Bit by bit, the two sides—Old MacDonald’s farm and Señor Pancho’s rancho—interact, ending in a cacophony of animal sounds. Even though the images are not that easy to see in a group read-aloud setting, children will still catch on to the silliness taking place and will love singing the catchy “cha, cha, cha, cha, cha” chorus. De Colores: Bright with Colors. illus. by David Díaz. Amazon/Two Lions. 2011. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780761459347. PreS-Gr 3 –This popular folk song (which is also the anthem of the United Farm Workers of America) celebrates the arrival of spring. There are several picture book editions of this song, but Díaz’s stylized illustrations, aside from being a feast for the eyes, match the warmth of the words in the tune so well; this title outshines all other iterations. DOMÍNGUEZ, Angela. Maria Had a Little Llama/María tenía una llamita. illus. by author. Holt. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805093339. PreS-Gr 2 –What makes this translation of the well-known “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stand out is the setting. Children in the United States don’t often encounter books set in Peru. This title offers a perfect opportunity to expand points of reference about the Spanish-speaking world while they have fun singing. JARAMILLO, Susie . Los pollitos/Little Chickies. illus. by author. (Cantícos). Little Pickle/Encantos. 2016. Board. $14.99. ISBN 9780996995900. Toddler-PreS –A delightful accordion-style board book featuring one of the most well-known Spanish songs for children. The illustrations are large and clear enough to be used during a storytime program. For a one-on-one read, there are flaps to open and a wheel to spin that will keep younger ones engaged. JARAMILLO, Susie. Elefantitos/Little Elephants. illus. by author. (Cantícos). Little Pickle/Encantos. 2016. Board. $14.99. ISBN 9780996995917. PreS-Gr2 –Using the same format as she did in Los pollitos/Little Chickies, Jaramillo presents another traditional Spanish children’s song, this time involving an increasing number of elephants swaying on a spider’s web. Sing along with the book as the children learn the song. But for some real fun, have the children make a giant spider web on the floor with some yarn; then they can be called into the web one by one until they are all in. That’s, of course, the moment when the web falls apart and they all fall down!


Cha, Cha, Cha: Spanish Learning Songs/Canciones infantiles. Performed by Jorge Anaya. Whistlefritz. 2010. CD. $11.99. PreS-Gr 2 –The songs in this CD (also available in MP3 format) have a catchy Latin rhythm accompanied by an accordion, a guitar, maracas, and other percussion instruments. And yet the music does not overpower the lyrics, making it very easy for children to hear and learn them. Have fun singing those songs and swaying those hips! Coloreando: Traditional Songs for Children in Spanish. Performed by Marta Gómez. GLP Music. 2013. CD. $12.99. PreS-Gr 3 –The selections here are all well-known traditional Spanish songs. Gómez performs in an understated and mellow style that is very appealing and makes the lyrics clear and easy to follow. This charming CD is a wonderful addition to any library with a Spanish collection. ¡Comé bien! Eat Right! Performed by José Luis Orozco. Smithsonian Folkways. CD. 2015. $14.99. PreS-Grade 3 –Orozco is probably the best-known performer in the United States of music in Spanish for children. In this latest, Grammy-nominated recording, as the title suggests, the theme is healthy eating and nutrition, but, more important, the songs are just plain fun. Imagine having a Conga line across the library as you sing “The Fruit Conga”! Many of the songs in this CD are riffs on well-known children’s songs, so don’t forget to introduce children to those as well. For example, when singing “Sabrosos colores,” make sure you also sing the original “De colores.” A 40-page booklet with bilingual notes is also included.


NAIDOO, Jamie Campbell, & Katie Scherrer. Once upon a Cuento: Bilingual Storytimes in English and Spanish. ALA Editions. 2016. pap. $48. ISBN 9780838914113. This book provides 18 ready-to-use program plans for bilingual storytimes, as well as several templates for designing your own. There are also recommendations for books, songs, apps, and professional resources. Aside from this, the book provides a well-articulated rationale for bilingual programming and outreach. Spanishplayground.net This website has a wealth of activities, songs, games, and links to other helpful sites.

Lucia Acosta is a children’s literature specialist and reviewer. She served on the 2015 Caldecott and the 2013 Pura Belpré Award committees.

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.

Christine Halbert

Thank you ever so much! Your posting was exactly the help I was looking for and the resources I needed.

Posted : Jun 22, 2017 10:37

Heide Madera

Some great resources here! Thank you! Please include our award-winning songs about daily stuff! Kids love to sing and do "the moves" that help recall the meanings of the words. Songs to help you brush teeth, transition, eat well, set the table, get dressed, wash up, etc. Use the power of music and song to make languag learning fun! www.singalingo.com

Posted : Jul 30, 2016 05:47



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