Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? More than just a bunch of rhyming words, poetry does, in fact, have many benefits for children. For starters, it helps young children to learn new vocabulary and rhythm. For this reason, many nursery rhymes are exactly that: rhyming verse. Poetry presents words in a fun format that is easy to memorize and learn. It also introduces children to the concept of words as a means of expression, not simply communication. The various forms of poetry also allow children to explore language concepts such as alliteration, similes, metaphors, rhymes and many others. But do you know the most important thing about it? It is just plain fun to read—in English, Spanish or both!
Below are ten awesome poetry books for bilingual families.
Doggy Slippers by Jorge Luján; Illustrations by Isol ($14.78)
Compiled by the incredibly talented poet, Jorge Luján, this book is actually a collection of poems written by children. Luján had the idea to write to children all over Latin America and ask them about their pets. Translated to English, some of their responses are hilarious…
Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem by Jorge Argueta; illustrations by Margarita Sada ($14.78)
Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem is more than just a simple recipe centered around the traditional Latin dish. Instead, it is a glimpse into the world of a child who creates something special for her family using her imagination and joyful spirit. Told in the first person, our narrator is a young girl for whom aguacates resemble green precious stones, limes are like big crystal marbles, and their seeds like little pearls. This delightful book comes with full text in both English and Spanish.
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos; illustrations by Rafael López ($17.95)
Written in the same rhyming format as that of “The House That Jack Built”, Cazuela gives this classic rhyme a bilingual twist. It all begins with a pretty farm girl who gets out her pot to start cooking something sabroso. Before you know it, the farmer and all the farm animals are chipping in—leche from the vaca, limón from the burro, etc.—each one contributing an ingredient for the bubbling pot. Written in English with embedded Spanish words.
The Cricket Sings by Federico García López ($7.95)
The Cricket Sings is a selection of the poems and songs Federico Garcia Lorca wrote especially for children, presented together with the Spanish texts. María Horvath’s ink drawings do not detract from the text, though they are detailed with intricate patterns. This book would make a wonderful gift worthy of “family heirloom” status!
Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhymes (Bilingual Edition in Spanish and English) by Margot C. Griego ($7.99)
A carefully selected group of nursery rhymes traditionally found throughout Latin America. The reader may recognize the rhymes, Los Pescaditos, Los Pollitos Dicen, and Tortillitas Para Mama, among others. The rhymes are at times amusing, at other times nostalgic, but always beautiful. Written with full text in English and Spanish.
Confetti: Poems for Children by Pat Mora; illustrations by Enrique O. Sanchez ($8.95)
Thirteen bilingual poems fill this book, including Castanet Clicks, Mexican Magician, and Dancing Paper. Each free verse poem explodes with imaginative movement and color. The accompanying illustrations by artist Enrique O. Sanchez, complement the words by reflecting the essence of the words. Written predominantly in English, there are Spanish words scattered throughout the text.
Luna by Antonio Rubio; illustrations by Óscar Villán ($7.05)
Described by the publisher as a poetic pictogram, this book was written especially for young toddlers. Rubio says the short rhythmic poems are designed to educate the eye and sweeten the ear. A great introduction to poetry for young readers. Written in Spanish only.
Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrations by Enrique O. Sanchez ($5.99)
The amusing story-in-verse of a little girl who realizes she needs a bathroom while riding in the car with her parents. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the verses very cleverly, inviting the reader to participate and finish the rhyme out loud.
De Colores, Bright with Colors by David Diaz ($7.99)
In this picture book Diaz’s bold and colorful illustrations reflect the meaning of the song perfectly. He focuses on two verses plus the refrain, and also includes the musical arrangement in the back of the book. It is written with full text in Spanish and English. However, though the De Colores song may be translated literally (almost word-for-word) and still retain its meaning, Diaz has chosen to expound a bit, portraying the sentiment and rhythm of the original with beautiful imagery that is supported by his illustrations.
Todo es canción by Alma Flor Ada ($11.86)
An anthology of original poems by author Alma Flor Ada. Written completely in Spanish for children, Ada does a remarkable job of creating poems that reflect the imagination of a child. Parents and teachers will love these beautiful poems, which students will enjoy reading and maybe even memorizing. And in the prologue, Ada discusses the question: ¿Qué es poesía? She covers things like rhymes and metaphors, alliteration and poetic themes, to name a few.