When you’re a child, every day feels like an adventure. And books teach children just how incredible the world is. Using authentic Spanish books can take your child on a journey to faraway lands, filled with memorable characters, exciting stories, and vibrant Latin American culture.
What’s more, introducing kids to new cultures early in childhood supports emotional development. Research suggests that children who participate in cultural activities develop greater awareness and appreciation for others.
Cultural diversity for children fosters a more inclusive worldview. By the time they’re 2 years old, children are already able to pick up on stereotypes about other people and themselves; interactions with others, and exposure to different types of media, all shape how they come to view the world, including people who are like them, and those who aren’t.
Reading books that celebrate Latin American culture gives children a brighter future. It helps them recognize the importance of diversity, the beauty of unique cultures, and all the amazing experiences they can have by being open-minded and socially aware.
Diversity exposure helps children build a wider, more understanding world view. Every book is written by an author with a unique perspective, voice, and style. Children who read are exposed to an exciting world filled with interesting characters, vocabulary words, and adventures to share.
Far too often, people from minority backgrounds are all grouped together. They’re simply seen as “Spanish” instead of being recognized as incredibly diverse and interesting individuals. Books help kids combat this social tendency, called the outgroup homogeneity bias.
Going on journeys through the lens of Latin American culture helps kids think beyond the confines of race, ethnicity, and language. They come to see people as individuals, and realize just how much they can relate to people who, at first glance, may not have a lot in common with them.
On top of that, kids who read bilingual books show stronger social-emotional development than kids who don’t. By reading books in Spanish, kids become more open-minded, empathetic, tolerant of differences, and culturally sensitive.
During early childhood, our belief systems are still being shaped by everything we encounter. Even a small interaction can have a lifelong impact on a child. As parents, we want to give our children everything they need to become well-adjusted, kind people. And that takes exposure to different cultures to combat biases and stereotypes that could harm them and others later on.
When we opt to read authentic Spanish books to our kids, we’ve giving them a gift that will reward them for life. Whenever they read stories, kids instinctively imagine themselves in the shows of the characters. This allows them to develop greater cultural awareness as they begin to envision themselves in places that look and sound quite different from what they know at home.
Books should introduce your child to new cultures, people, and places. They should make them excited about the world, and all the amazingly diverse cultures that inhabit it. The best part about sharing stories in Spanish together is that you’re able to take your child on a thousand journeys right from the comfort of home.
Ready to take your child on an adventure? These reading strategies can help you build cultural empathy and boost diversity exposure in a way that’s fun and meaningful to them.
Every story is shaped by the experiences of its author. If you want to help your child experience the magic of getting swept up into a story, look for books written by authors from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Reading books in Spanish written by authors who are Latin American introduces your child to new perspectives, words, and ideas. It exposes them to an authentic cultural worldview they may not encounter otherwise.
Written and illustrated by Carlos Aponte
Recipient of the Pura Belpré Illustrator honor, author-illustrator Carlos Aponte takes readers on a journey to the heart of Puerto Rico in this enchanting picture book set in Old San Juan.
Written by Mira Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa
In this book inspired by the author’s hometown in India, a little girl searches for a gift for her Amma (mom). The stalls in this southern Indian street market offer a vibrant rainbow of delights for her to explore.
Spanish books tend to be lyrical by nature; their rhythm can become even more enjoyable when it's supported by beautiful illustrations. Picture books in Spanish allow kids to follow along with stories in their second language; illustrations help create visual memories, which help kids strengthen their connection to the text.
Written by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Lavishly illustrated, and written in beautiful prose, Lola is a tribute to creativity, diversity and limitless imagination, which allows us to connect with our family, our past and with ourselves.
Written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
Energetic mixed-media illustrations explode with color and are the perfect complement to this uplifting story.
Folklore plays a major role in Latin American culture. It’s passed down from one generation to the next, building a story that stretches back through time. Many authentic Spanish books draw inspiration from folklore, and they can help children learn even more about life through someone else’s eyes.
Most Spanish folklore stories for kids have meaningful anecdotes wrapped up in their narrative. They teach kids important life lessons through a rich cultural lens. If you’re trying to teach them about Latin American culture, folklore-inspired stories are a great choice.
Written by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Crash McCreery
From the bestselling author of Dragons Love Tacos comes a whimsical re-telling of the chupacabra folktale, written in a blend of English and Spanish.
Written by José Carlos Andrés, illustrated by Betania Zacarias
From the cheerful illustrations to the encouragement to read aloud in silly voices, we just love the creativity of this origin story of the Spanish-speaking world’s version of the Tooth Fairy: El Ratoncito Pérez.
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