Finally, after a lot of research, I’ve now found and acquired several sets of books for beginner readers. None of them are perfect but together I think they’ll get us through the initial process of learning to read in Spanish. They are: Cati and Tomi, My First Bilingual Little Readers and 32 Cuentos de la A and la Z. Here’s a short review both in text and video. I decided to use video because if you’re me you’ll want to see inside the book before buying – something that’s tricky when buying online from abroad.
Cati y Tomi
This is a series of 12 books for beginner readers. I was attracted to these books as I like the way they are graded into three levels with progressively longer texts. They also have questions at the back to check the child understands the story, and stickers which are always popular. So far we have read all the level 1 books, although S hasn’t been keen to reread them (as suggested). On the down side. you have to buy them individually (there’s no pack available), the stories are sweet but aren’t particularly interesting and nor do the illustrations excite. The first level has text in both capital letters and cursive, but levels 2 and 3 are only in cursive. As S is only learning print at school he struggles to read cursive text. We are therefore on hold before starting level 2.
My First Bilingual Little Readers
This is a black-and-white book with tear-out pages you can cut and fold to make mini books. It is published by Scolastic and is obviously marketed at teachers working in bilingual programmes in the US. The main advantage of these little books are the short, easy to read, repetitive texts on a wide range of topics. They are also written in print, which is rare for Spanish learner books. S also likes to colour in the pictures as we do the reading together. They are also very economical costing only £8 each. The only downside is the format is not very durable, but I will endeavour to keep them for when E is learning to read. Having completed level 1 in Cati and Tomi, we are now focusing on these mini books. I have also bought a similar title, Easy Bilingual Nonfiction Mini Books.
32 Cuentos de la A a la Z
This lovely set of books is my favourite. S is using these books with his teacher in their 1-2-1 lessons. There is a story for each letter sound; this attracted me as I wanted to ensure we comprehensively cover all the letter sound combinations. So there’s a book for A, and M and S, but when it comes to C, there’s one for CA, CO, CU and one for CE, CI.
The stories are fun and engaging with brilliant illustrations. They also have questions and activities at the back of the book to check comprehension and extend the learning. I also like that you can buy them all in one pack! This doesn’t seem to be a common thing in Spain.
The only disadvantage (except for the price – eek!) is that they are in cursive text – although we’re so lucky as S’s lovely teacher has printed him out versions of the texts in print and stuck them into the books for him. The texts are longer and more complicated than the two other series mentioned above, so I am planning on completing the others with him first. In the meantime I have been reading some of them to him as well.
I’d love to hear about any other reading books for beginners. Do share any recommendations. Thanks