My 6 year old son is now reading books from the ‘serie blanca’ of the Barco de Vapor collection. Serie blanco is the first level, aimed at ‘primeros lectores’.
Despite the name, these books are not for children who are just starting to learn to read. Each page has a paragraph of text and the books span 60 pages or so. Despite the books I bought all being in the same level (blanca – primeros lectores) they do vary in difficulty.
I planned to make made a video to show you inside some of the titles, in case like me, you are normally buying books online from abroad and don’t get the opportunity to browse them properly. It hasn’t uploaded properly unfortunately. I plan to come back to this, I promise!
As well as looking at the series in more detail below, I also explore briefly my own journey as I searched for the classics of children’s literature in Spanish.
El Barco de Vapor
El Barco de Vapor is a collection of children’s literature aimed at children from 6 to 12 years old. It is published by Ediciones SM. The books in the collection include a wide range of titles, both originally written in Spanish and translated from other languages.
Launched in 1978 it was the first collection of children’s literature created in Spain. It is published throughout the countries where SM opperates where the collection is supplemented by local material. El Barco de Vapor is considered the most important collection of children’s literature in Spanish.
The levels work as follows :
White – aimed at beginner readers ages 6-7.
Blue – from age 7
Orange – from age 8
Red – from age 10
As a non native speaker of Spanish, searching for books for my children, I originally made the mistake of assuming the Spanish speaking world had followed a similar pattern of development as children’s literature in English. When I first started buying children’s books in Spanish, I was searching for the equivalent Spanish language books to those I had known and enjoyed as a child.
I didn’t want translations but classic works originally written in Spanish. Where was the Spanish Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Mr Men or Narnia….? What were the Spanish speaking equivalents, known and loved by all children?
I was not only looking for books for their language content, I imagined learning and experiencing Spanish-speaking cultures along with my children through these classic works.
I had not, at this point, realised that the UK has a particularly long and rich history of children’s literature. I assumed there were equivalents to our beloved classics. I have since learnt that we are really spoilt for children’s literature in English and there is no equivalent to these classic characters. I have learnt to embrace the translated works of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and C. S. Lewis for the language exposure provided.
Spanish children’s literature really only started to develop properly in the 1960s. The beloved poet Gloria Fuertes dates from this period. For a brief history of Spanish children’s literature (in Spanish) see this blog.