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3 Simple Ways to get Reading in Spanish at Home

Finding books and resources in Spanish is frustrating. But over the last 12 years, I’ve discovered a few gems that I'm sharing today!

A father and child are laying on a carpet beside a sofa, reading a book
Reading in Spanish for 20 minutes a day exposes your child to almost 2 million words a year.

Greetings and salutations!

You a Charlotte’s Web fans? I tried reading it to my boys a year or two ago and they were not having it. Maybe I’ll try again sometime soon…because it’s just such a sweet story.

I have found that sometimes when I try something with my kids the first time, they don’t like it. It could be over their head/attention span. My bad. But how do you know if you don’t try, right? Maybe I tried to do it for 10 minutes instead of 2. They were engaged for the first 2 minutes. Start there. That’s enough.

Today’s tips are all about reading to your kids in Spanish. Why? How? How long? How often?

You maybe have heard this statistic before, but did you know that reading to your kids for 20 minutes a day exposes them to 1.8 million words a YEAR. Yeah…that’s a lot. And because the foundation of literacy is oral vocabulary, listening and reading in Spanish is REALLY important.

The more words a child hears, the more words he or she will start to use. And, reading a word you have never heard before is WAY more complicated than reading a word that you have heard and used 500 times.

So here is your “why.”

Developing your child’s oral vocabulary in Spanish is really essential to them becoming fluent. Reading regularly to them is one of the simplest ways to to increase their oral vocabulary.

What about “how?”

Do you live in Spanish-speaking community? Maybe? Sort of? Not at all?

Finding books and resources in Spanish is frustrating. I know. The library selection is small. The YouTube video and sound quality is often sub-par. But over the last 12 years, I’ve discovered a few gems and here they are:

  1. Scholastic has a Club Leo with some really great books. My kids love the “Elefante y Cerdita by Mo Willems” series. When scholastic book flyers come home from school, I always order books in Spanish. I can use the local library to get books to read to my kids in English, but the library’s selection of Spanish books is small. I spend my money on things I can’t read for free at the library.

  2. Have you ever been invited to an online Usborne book party by another mom friend? Truthfully sometimes I just say yes because I hate saying no (people pleaser right here), so I use these opportunities to also add to our Spanish library. Here is their Spanish book selection, and it’s pretty decent. I save the books and give them to my kids as birthday or Christmas gifts.

  3. Maybe you are not a bilingual parent and reading to your kid in Spanish is not an option. I’ve got you! YouTube is a GREAT resource! Often the videos are animated, which really help with comprehension. The actual words also often appear on the screen, which helps your reading skills! Here are some of my go-to Spanish channels:

    • Cuentacuentos by Beatriz Montero - The reader acts out the story, does sound effects, dresses up as the characters in the books. She’s great!

    • Scholastic Storybook Treasures - This channel has a whole playlist of books in Spanish. The audio and video quality is good, and the video editing highlights the storyline/vocabulary to help with comprehension.

    • Super Simple Español - These are all songs and poems in Spanish, and include closed captioning. This is a great place to start if your kids aren’t super into reading in Spanish or their attention span is like 1-2 minutes. They can sing along and the video will hold their attention for the duration of the song. Also, my kids end up singing the words of the song after we’ve heard it just a few times because they’re super catchy.

That brings me to my last and final point “how long/how often.”

EVERY. DAY. FRIEND. Every day.

I would not expect to do this for more than 5 minutes a day at first. Like…I might choose to listen to this song about the weather every day on the way to school. And then when the 2 minute song is over, ask your kids about the weather. If you have a preschooler, the concepts of weather and weather vocabulary are still pretty new for them, so talking about in English is ok. Help your child develop native language vocabulary. When they are comfortable there, see if you can ask and answer the question in Spanish using the words of the song you have been listening to all week.

Once you develop that habit (like take a month and get used to that routine), add a story or another song to your time until you are reading or listening for a solid 15-20 minutes.

Learning another language is playing the long game…tortoise and hare style.

Be short and consistent. Make it a “moment” you share with your kids each day, and they will start to look forward to it.

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