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Last week, I wrote about the value that audiobooks can bring to your language learning at home. In case you didn’t have a chance to read that post, here are three quick reasons why audiobooks deserve a place in your homeschool:
Audiobooks provide exposure to native speakers through authentic texts—that is, real language.
Audiobooks are an easy way to practice listening skills in a foreign language, without much prep needed from mom.
Audiobooks allow for a customized listening experience that is tailored to your child’s needs.
Since I believe so strongly in the power of audiobooks for language learners, today, I’d love to share with you some of the audiobooks that we’ve been listening to with our boys in Spanish. Hopefully, your family will enjoy some of these as well!
If you’ve never used audiobooks before, you can try Audible.com for 30 days for free—and since each trial includes two free audiobooks, you can try it out risk-free. And if you’d rather purchase books individually, you can do that as well—Audible does not require you to be a member in order to purchase its audiobooks.
Since your children may be at different levels of language proficiency, I’ve organized this guide roughly by level—beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I’ve also tried to include some notes on the age-appropriateness of these books, to help you find the best match for your kids.
If you don’t know where to start, I suggest downloading some Spanish language audiobooks that are translations of books that your kids have already read (especially picture books)—that way, the story is not wholly unfamiliar to them. If your library has Spanish language materials available, I also recommend that you check out the books so that your kids can follow along as they listen. The text will act like “subtitles” to the audiobook—and consuming subtitled media is actually one of the most effective strategies for improving listening comprehension in a new language! If your library does not have a good selection of Spanish language books, never fear! I’ve included the links to print versions of these books so that you can read along with the narration.
For Beginning Spanish Learners
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (Spanish) — While toddlers love the repetition of this book, Spanish students of any age will be helped to learn animal names from it. Note that the Spanish recording of this audiobook is available as part of the English language book; the Spanish recording starts at the 10:43 timestamp.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Spanish) — Another hit with the preschool crowd, this book reinforces colors for Spanish learners of any age. Read it along with the picture book to activate the visual-auditory connections in your child’s brain. Again, the Spanish recording is a part of the English language book, so be sure that’s what you purchase. The Spanish narration begins at 7:27.
The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Bilingual) —This has been a favorite in our family's Poetry Teatimes. With short, seasonal poems that use simple vocabulary, you can use this anthology to introduce your children to the beauty of Spanish language poetry (and easily refer to the English language translations to help with comprehension).
For Intermediate Spanish Learners
Clifford, The Big Red Dog (Spanish) — The children’s classic, now in Spanish. The simple vocabulary and syntax of this story, while more sophisticated than the “beginner” books above, construct a narrative that is just right for true intermediate Spanish students. Plus, what child doesn’t relish the idea of having their own enormous, goofy, and very red dog?
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (Spanish) — This installment of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s “How Do Dinosaurs” series helps teach children bedtime routines through counter examples. Should dinosaurs stomp their feet and grumble at bedtime? Of course not! Children will laugh at these absurd examples as they absorb the book’s thematic vocabulary. Preschool to elementary-aged students are likely to enjoy this book most, as they will get the humor behind the narrator’s questions. (Print book here)
Five-Minute Children’s Stories (Spanish) — These are classic fairy tales, retold in Spanish, that would be suitable for preschoolers who have had significant exposure to Spanish and for older students who have been studying the language for at least two years. They all clock in at five minutes each, so while they do use more sophisticated language than the other books in this category, their length helps keep children from being overwhelmed. Moreover, the five-minute time limit means that kids can listen to them over and over, which can aid significantly in comprehension. (No print version)
The Boxcar Children (Spanish) — My adventure- and mystery-loving preschooler can’t get enough of this classic children’s series—and I love that he’s spending his daily rest time listening to these books in Spanish! If you’ve ever read The Boxcar Children in English, you know that the language isn’t terribly difficult, so I would say that these books are likely accessible for intermediate or high-intermediate Spanish speakers (think a high schooler with two years under his belt). Five Boxcar children books are available as Spanish-language audiobooks: The Boxcar Children (Book 1), The Island of Surprises (Book 2), The Mystery of the Yellow House (Book 3), The Ranch of Mystery (Book 4), and The Mystery of Mike (Book 5).
For Advanced Spanish Learners
Your Biblia Album—These dramatized Bible stories will be a delight to Christian families who want to combine religious education with language learning. The professional actors who perform these stories will capture your child’s attention with their engaging delivery and lead them towards a deeper knowledge of the narrative of Scripture. There are eight volumes in all, covering the Old Testament to the New. (No print version)
The Tale of the Mischievous Peter Rabbit (Spanish) — Peter Rabbit, or Perico el Conejito, is as beloved in our family as he likely is in yours. This Spanish language version of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale is narrated beautifully by Marina Clyo, whose clear enunciation and dramatic reading make the story a pleasure to listen to. Clyo has narrated a number of other Potter tales, which we also own, including The Tale of Two Bad Mice and The Story of Benjamin Rabbit. (Anthology of all Potter stories available here)
Puss in Boots and Cinderella (Spanish) — My five-year-old loves these well-narrated translations of the Charles Perrault classics, which run between 20-30 minutes each . These are must-have for any Charlotte Mason homeschool and if you’re looking to expand your collection of classic stories, these narrators also perform Little Red Riding Hood, Aesop’s Fables, Hansel and Gretel, Aladdin, Tom Thumb, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty in Spanish.
The Best Brothers’ Grimm Stories (Spanish) — For older children who are proficient in Spanish—and can handle some gruesome endings—the Brothers’ Grimm stories are a literary classic that shouldn’t be missed. I’ll be honest about this one: my five-year-old isn’t ready to hear these tales, but I enjoyed listening to them! Advanced Spanish students are the best audience for this collection, which includes some of the most famous fairy tales transcribed by the Brothers Grimm. While some may find the narrator initially difficult to follow, as she has a fairly thick Spanish (peninsular) accent, I encourage you to press on and use the “repeat” button as needed! Learning to listen to different accents is an important skill to develop for Spanish learners, so it’s worth the extra effort.