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Spanish Books to use in Speech Therapy - September 4, 2009

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Spanish Books to Use in Speech Therapy

Reprinted with their express permission of Catherine Trapskin as originally posted on her blog.

By: Catherine Trapskin, M.S. CCC-SLP

As a speech-language pathologist working with many Spanish speaking students, it is not always easy to come up with literature and books in Spanish to use in speech therapy.

The New Voices/Nuevas Voces website lists several children's books in English and Spanish that could be appropriate to use in speech therapy with Spanish speaking students. Let me know if you have experience with any of these texts!

Ada, A. F. (1999). Mediopollito/Half-Chicken. Las Vegas, NV: Sagebrush Press.
Ages: 4-8.
This story retells the traditional folktale about how Half-Chicken became a weathervane. Half-Chicken goes to Mexico City to see the court of the viceroy and along the way helps the stream, the fire, and the wind. They return the favor when the viceroy’s cook tries to turn him into chicken soup. Finally, the wind blows Half-Chicken to safety atop a palace tower, where weathercocks have stood on their only leg, seeing everything that happens below, and pointing whichever way their friend the wind blows. This story is told in a flavorful colonial Mexican setting.

Blanco, A. (1998). La Estrella de Angel/Angel’s Kite. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.
Ages: 4-8
A young kite maker makes a beautiful kite depicting his entire town, which has never been the same since the church bell disappeared. Angel flies his kite, and after an exciting chase, brings the bell back to town. With lyrical language and whimsical collages, Angel's Kite is a fanciful tale of a young boy's determination to transform his dreams to reality. This story shows a sense of community, hope, and perseverance. The text is written in both English and Spanish.

Brown, M. W. (1942). The Runaway Bunny/El Conejito Andarin. Harper Festival
Ages: Baby to Preschool.
The story begins with a young bunny who decides to run away: "'If you run away,' said his mother, 'I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.'" And so begins a delightful, imaginary game of chase. No matter how many forms the little bunny takes, his steadfast, adoring, protective mother finds a way of retrieving him. The rhythmic story infuses young readers with a complete sense of security, reassurance, and peace. Available in English and Spanish.

Cisneros, S. (1997). Peltios/Hair. New York: Dragonfly Books.
Ages 4-8.
This bilingual book is beautifully illustrated. It celebrates the diversity among us through the different types of hair of each family member. The poetic language creates an affectionate picture of the family home and familial love. This is a cozy bedtime book.

Dorros, A. (1995). Abuela/Grandmother. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
Ages: 4-8.
This story is narrated by a Hispanic-American girl who imagines she's rising into the air over the park and flying over Manhattan with her loving, rosy-cheeked abuela (grandmother). The simple text could be enjoyed as a read-aloud or as a read-alone for newly independent readers. The author integrates Spanish word and phrases with English text through Abuela’s dialogue. While some phrases are translated by the child, others will be understood in context. A glossary is also provided with definitions and pronunciations. This book is good for reading aloud to children or for newly independent readers to read alone. While not bilingual in the strictest sense, this book is a less self-conscious, more artfully natural approach to multicultural material.

Gonzalez, L. M. (1999). El Gallo de Bodas/Bossy Gallito: A Tradicional Cuban Folktale. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Ages: 4-8.
A picture book retelling of a Cuban folktale told in both English and Spanish. While walking to his uncle's wedding, a rooster cannot resist eating a piece of corn and thus dirties his beak. He must find a way to clean it before the wedding. This is a good story that highlights pridefulness and manners. This book contains a glossary of Spanish words and information about the different birds in the story.

Herrera, J. F. (2000). The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press
The author tells the story of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time. Juanito has a difficult time adjusting to his new school and misses the warmth of country life. Everything he does feels upside down: He eats lunch when its recess, he goes out to play when it's time for lunch, and his tongue feels like a rock when he speaks English. But his sensitive teacher and loving family help him shine and find his place through poetry, art, and music. This text is available in Spanish and English.

Hewitt, J. (1990). Hector Lives in the United States Now: the Story of a Mexican American Child. New York: Lippincott.
This photo essay shows the new, everyday world of ten-year-old Hector Almaraz, who has moved with his family from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Los Angeles, California. Text and photographs document Hector’s life, as his family seeks amnesty in the United States under the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

Jiménez, F. (1997). The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. University of New Mexico Press.
Appropriate for ages 12-17.
The Circuit is a collection of 12 independent but intertwined short stories that chronicle the experiences of a Mexican-American family of migrant farm laborers, as narrated by one of the children, Panchito. This is a powerful account of a family's journey to the fields of California and describes how their lives are constantly moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. The story is told through the eyes of a boy who longs for an education and the right to call one place home. This is a story of survival, faith, and hope. It is a journey that will open readers' hearts and minds. This story is available in Spanish in the edition, Cajas De Carton.

Jiménez, F. (2000). La Mariposa. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
In his first year of school, Francisco can barely understand what his teacher says, but he is drawn to the silent, slow-moving caterpillar in the jar next to his desk In order to find out how caterpillars turn into butterflies, Francisco studies the words in a butterfly book so many times that he can close his eyes and see the black letters, but he still can't understand their meaning. This book gives an unsentimental account of Francisco’s struggle to learn language and reveals how powerful and sustaining our imaginations can be. This book is richly illustrated. La Mariposa makes a subtle plea for tolerance in our homes, our communities, and in our schools.

Jiménez, F. (2001). Breaking Through. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
This is the sequel to The Circuit. At the age of fourteen, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother Roberto and his mother, are caught by la migra (immigration officers) and are forced to leave their home in California. The whole family travels all night for twenty hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow, Francisco, his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sister deal with poverty, long hours of labor, blatant prejudice, and struggle to sustain hope and stay together as a family.

Joosse, B. M. (1998). Mama, Do you love me, ¿Mé quieres mama? San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Ages: Baby to Preschool.
This exceptional board-book tells a beautiful and timeless story about an Inuit daughter's attempt to find the limit of her mother's love ("What if I put salmon in your parka ... and ermine in your mukluks?"). Her mother reassures that her love is forever. There's a quiet joyfulness in both the antics of the mother and daughter and in the animals. Available in English and Spanish.

Lionni, L. (1973). Frederick. New York: Dragonfly Books.
Ages: 4-8.
While other mice are gathering food for the winter, Frederick seems to daydream the summer away. He concerns himself with art and his friends grumble at his behavior. But when dreary winter comes, it is Frederick the poet-mouse who warms his friends and cheers them with his words. Frederick's poetry is seen as essential for survival. Available in English and Spanish.

Mora, P. (1998). Pachanga Deliciosa/Delicious Hullabaloo. Houston, TX: Pinata Books.
Ages: 4-8
This is a sometimes-nonsensical story of a group of armadillos and lizards that host a party for their animal friends. The happy story is told in both English and Spanish. It explores the meaning of friendship, work in collaboration, and celebrations are always around fun and food.

Reiser, L. (1993). Margarita y Margaret/Margaret and Margarita. Greenwillow Books.
Ages 3-6.
Margaret, who speaks English, and Margarita, who speaks Spanish, meet on a trip to the park with their mothers. The language barrier immediately distances the adults, but soon the two little girls are chattering away. Each mother and daughter pair speaks the same or similar phrases in their own language on facing pages as the girls build a friendship. The English words are in blue, and the Spanish words are in red. By the end of the book, most of the dialogue is mixed of red and blue as the children excitedly speak a blend of both languages.

Winter, J. (1996). Josefina. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Trade Publishers.
Ages: 4-8
Josefina Aguilar is a real-life Mexican folk artist who makes and sells painted clay figures in a small village. The author imagines Josefina’s life and has her sculpting figurines in groups and numbers ("six babies for six mamas to hold"), and the action builds toward a grand finale, with Josefina displaying her day's work as a clever count-down brings the story full circle. Readers will reinforce their command of numbers and get a taste of Mexican culture too. Available in English and Spanish.

Featured Blogger: Catherine Trapskin:

We thank Catherine Trapskin for allowing us to reprint her blog entry.

About Catherine: Catherine Trapskin is a bilingual (Spanish) SLP working for the Minneapolis Public Schools, a district which represents over 80 different languages. She currently has a caseload and also works at the district level in her special education/ELL department. This part of her job entails training other special ed staff on how to assess, use best practices to teach special ed/ELL students, work with interpreters, etc.

She came up with the idea for this blog/website because it seemed that although almost every SLP has at least one, if not several more individuals on their caseload who are English Language Learners. As she has conducted trainings around the district and state, Catherine has found that people's knowledge and skill in this area is so varied and people are always desperate for information and ideas. She is currently working on creating a site that will allow for questions, forums, materials exchange, etc, which she hopes will be up and running sometime this fall.

To read more of Catherine's blog, please visit

Tags: Bilingualism SLP September 2009 Newsletter Article