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Accessing Authentic Spanish Literature for Adolescents

One night, about a few months ago, as my husband and I were getting our girls ready for bed, I asked my older girls to go get a book from their library to read. “Vayan y busquen un libro,” I say as they run upstairs to their room.

While they’re gone, I read the Contando con Frida” book by Patty Rodriguez to my two-year old twins. It’s one of their faves now that they’re learning colors, numbers and shapes. I purchased that book, along with a few other bilingual board books from Amazon. Getting some Spanish bedtime reading material for them has been pretty easy.

I put the twins to bed and go upstairs to read a book to my seven and six-year old girls before they go to sleep.

As I walk into the girls’ room, I see the book they picked out for me to read on top of the bottom bunk bed: Pinkalicious (en espanol). “Otra vez!” I groan.

Mamá, es que no encontré nada en español!” says my oldest. I walk over to their bookshelf and start rummaging through their book selection myself. After about five minutes of searching through all of their bookshelves, I realize that my daughter was right. We had already read through all the Spanish language books multiple times. I either had to choose an English book to read or muster through Pinkalicious (en español) for what would have seemed like the ten thousandth time that night. No offense to Victoria Kann!

I’m sharing this short anecdote, because it made me realize something important: as my girls get older, I find it more and more difficult to find appropriate grade level texts in Spanish for them to read at home. My oldest, for example, is reading chapter books. Going through Amazon, I have found that their options for chapter books that might appeal to her are lacking. This worries me a little bit because if the goal is to ensure that my children become fully bilingual and biliterate by the time they are adults, I need to be able to find them reading material in Spanish that is comparable to the material I can find for them in English. I need to address this issue now that they are still smaller, before they get to high school and I am at a loss on how to help them.

This is definitely something I’ve started to work on quite a bit recently. Luckily, I’ve been able to find a few bookstores online that carry Spanish literary texts for older children (ages 8-12) and young adults (ages 13-17). Many of these bookstores ship to the United States and offer a wide selection of books in various genres.

The purpose of this post is to share these resources with all of you below. I hope you can find them useful and if you can recommend any more, please leave a comment below!!

FULL DISCLOSURE: None of the companies below paid me to plug or promote their products on this post.

  1. LA Libreria: https://www.la-libreria.net/iguales-pero-diferentes/

So, this online bookstore is like hitting the jackpot of Spanish children’s literature. Born in 2012, as described on their website, this online bookstore was created “with the goal of promoting children’s literature in Spanish in all its forms” And man, do they deliver!! On this website, you can find books in Spanish organized by theme and appropriate for children between the ages of 0-15 (yay!) Not only can you find books that can complement what your child is learning in their Science, Social Studies and Language Arts classes, but you can find a ton of books for that appeal to a wide variety of interests. I particularly loved that the site offers English language classics like Treasure Island but also offers Spanish language series like A lomo de cuento where students can learn about the geography and culture of various Spanish Speaking countries like Cuba and Peru.  

2. Books del Sur: https://booksdelsur.org/

The philosophy behind the work that Books del Sur does is to “Develop Equitable Spanish Book Collections.” Books del Sur offers a growing variety of books for children ranging from elementary age to high school. The books offered are translated into Spanish, bilingual books and authentic books published across Latin America. The consultants work with you in-person or online to help you align your priorities with the book selection they have available.

3. Libros 787 (Puerto Rico): https://libros787.com/

Libros 787 is a Puerto Rico based online Spanish bookstore. The variety of English language classics offered at this bookstore was a bit larger than my first two options. I was totally psyched to see Alice in Wonderland, 1984, the Count of Monte Cristo and many familiar titles translated into Spanish. I was also excited to see many Spanish language varieties such as books on Puerto Rican history, culture and Puerto Rican movies!! I ordered the book Ellas: Historias de mujeres puertorriquenas to read to my daughters before going to bed. With over 50 short biographies in Spanish, I’ll definitely have plenty of bedtime material now!

4. Syncretic Press: https://syncreticpress.com/collections/early-school-years

Syncretic Press doesn’t seem to be as well known as some of the other titles on this list but I definitely see the room for potential after perusing their site. Founded in 2016 and located in Wilmington Delaware, Syncretic Press is an “independent publisher of children’s books in Spanish, with a special focus on Latin American authors and illustrators.” The books for sale on the site are for children between the ages of 2-12. One thing that I found intriguing on their site, more as a teacher than as a parent, is their “Spanish Book Club” offer. Similar to the Scholastic Book Club, whenever students in a given classroom purchase five books from Syncretic, their teachers gets a free book from the company to add to their classroom library.

5. TiendaMia: https://tiendamia.com/libros

This gem of an online store is based in Miami and sells more than a BILLION products from the United States and various countries in Latin America. In addition to buying all sorts of products (such as clothes, electronic appliances, etc.) TiendaMia has a very vast online bookstore. The books are not only affordable, but I love that I can find books in Spanish for people of all ages and interests, not just small children.

6. Libros in Espanol Libreria Online: https://librosinespanol.com/collections/8-12

Libros in Espanol is another great online bookstore where you can find all types of great books in Spanish, for people of all ages. Now that my third grader is starting to read chapter books, I’m very excited to see popular titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Hunger Games available in Spanish for her. As a Spanish literature teacher, I could easily access texts from authors such as Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa and Laura Esquivel. I also find it incredibly fascinating that this website stocks other classics from authors such as Shakespeare (Macbeth in Spanish), Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Victor Hugo. I truly love the versatility of this website.

7. Rueka Libreria Infantil (Colombia): http://www.rueka.com.co/home-2/

This online bookstore from Colombia contains many cute Spanish books of various genres for children between the ages of 0-12. The blog on this website is also a great resource for parents who wish to learn more about how to support literacy skills and an overall love of reading at home. What stands out to me the most from this website, however, is that each book that you purchase comes with some sort of activity or educational material that will allow parents to engage with the book in a pedagogical way with their child. My guess is that the owner of this online business was a former teacher? Either way, what they’re doing here is pretty cool.

8. BuscaLibre Libreria Online: https://www.buscalibre.us/libros

This website is very similar in format to TiendaMia (mentioned above) with their own selection of diverse titles, all available in Spanish. Payment for books is accepted in American dollars, though the books available come from various countries such as Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Spain.

9. Libreria Internacional: https://www.libreriainternacional.com/Libros/Infantiles

The children’s book selection here only ranges from ages 0-11 but there are still many titles to choose from, especially for secondary dual language teachers. There are many Spanish titles available in science, history, art and literature. After perusing the website, I definitely saw a few titles that I would purchase for myself to use as a reference when planning for a dual language Science or History class, for example.

10. Lehmann Virtual Online (Costa Rica) : https://www.lehmannvirtual.com/

This Costa Rican bookstore was founded in 1896, making it one of the oldest bookstores in Latin America. It characterizes itself for its high quality customer service and personal touch. The online book catalog contains a variety of book titles for children at both the primary and secondary level. There were many examples of Spanish young adult titles such as the popular Divergent series and titles of comics and Japanese manga. Lehmann also contains various educational resources for teachers of various content areas such as World History, Latin American History, Spanish Language Arts and Chemistry.

11. Casa del Libro (Espana): https://www.casadellibro.com/

Founded in 1923, Casa del Libro es the top bookstore chain in Spain. The chain counts with 47 bookstores spread throughout the entire country. The online bookstore is nothing short of impressive. If you’re willing to spend a bit extra in euros to get authentic titles in Spanish, then this option would be worth it. Casa del Libro’s online book catalog contains titles of print and e-books in Spanish of various genres for children between the ages of 0-18. Secondary dual language teachers would appreciate the availability of textbooks, workbooks and educational materials available in various subject areas as well.

12. Librimundi Libreria Internacional (Ecuador): https://www.librimundi.com/lm#/home

This bookstore chain from Ecuador contains very reasonably priced (they use American dollars) books for young children and young adults. Similar to Libros in Espanol (mentioned above), Librimundi has a very good selection of classical literature translated in Spanish, such as Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Anyone who is interested in introducing the classics in Spanish could definitely benefit from the options offered on this website.

I am a firm believer that in order to achieve high levels of biliteracy, we need to be very intentional when it comes to the resources we offer our children in BOTH languages. Even in bilingual households and classrooms in the United States, it’s very easy for English to dominate and overpower the minority language. Therefore, it’s very important that we choose resources in the second language that tap into the same depths of cognitive development as English. I say that from personal experience.

As a bilingual person who was educated in the United States, I didn’t have very many opportunities to read literature in Spanish unless I was given the opportunity to do so in the one Spanish class I took every year at school (out of the seven classes I took, in total) or if I made the conscious decision to read a Spanish text over an English text on my own. Now that very many school districts are offering dual language programs (an opportunity that wasn’t available to me, as a child), future generations of children have the tremendous privilege to access authentic resources in two languages.

The websites that I’ve included on this post all contain authentic Spanish language resources that could help unlock higher level literacy skills for adolescents. I hope that parents and teachers find the resources I’ve included on this post useful!

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