What are some good books for Spanish students?
Spanish students often dwell on what book to choose in order to start developing reading skills in their target language. This is, evidently, a great idea and we teachers encourage it enormously. It takes real concentration and patience to read a book in another language and it will undoubtedly make your Spanish studying very productive.
But when it comes to the vast amount of reading options, choosing the best one could be an arduous and intimidating task. It is crucial to make the right decision in order to yield real progress whilst enjoying the process. As a general rule, your choice should be based (at least) in one of the followings:
- The book is graded to your level. Many students tend to go for children books for their first choice, however, the fact that a book is aimed for children doest not necessarily mean that the language will be easy. The best thing to do is to choose a book aimed for adult learners. These books have been graded to all the levels without patronising the reader. You can find them in your local library or online.
- The book has a side to side translation. Some authors and collection of stories provide bilingual editions. You can use these translations to verify comprehension.
- The content is simple yet rewarding. It is a good idea to start from simple stories when you read new books in another language. However, another good idea is to read a story or book that you already know. Reading something we are familiar with keeps it simple and engaging, because you already enjoy it!
Here are our top 5 Spanish books for beginners:
Cuentos De La Selva
Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga lived in the jungles of Argentina for many years. He used this experience to write a collection of short stories inspired by all the fauna he observed. Using humour and a lot of imagination, Horacio Quiroga tells stories about the inhabitants of the South American jungles.
You will read about a special party organised by snakes, how the flamingos got their pink legs or a war declared against the crocodiles. Animals galore!
A comic book? Yes! Joaquín Salvador Quino created in 1963 one of the most iconic characters of Latin America, the 9 year-old Mafalda. Mafalda lives in a middle-class building in Buenos Aires, loves The Beatles, hates soup and has a pet turtle named bureaucracy, don't you love her already?
The comic strips of Mafalda are simple with a clear wording. By reading Mafalda, you are not only practising your Spanish but also learning about Argentinian culture through its witty humour.
Created by Lourdes Miguel and Neus Sans, Lola Lago is a collection of books aimed for Spanish language learners. The books follow the adventures of Lola Lago, a Spanish detective who solves mysteries and crimes in a world dominated by her male counterparts.
The books have explanation notes and cultural points in order to understand specific aspects of the texts and they even include activities for practising.
Como Agua Para Chocolate
This is the masterpiece of Mexican writer Laura Esquivel. Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) takes place in Northern Mexico during the Mexican revolution movement. However, the real emotional insurrection in the story revolves around Tita, the youngest of three sisters who, by old traditions, is supposed to never marry and take care of her ageing mother until the day she dies.
Tita expresses herself through cooking and each chapter of the book (12 in total) begins with a Mexican recipe linked to the development of the plot. Lovely, isn't it?
La Casa De Los Espíritus
Isabel Allende wrote La Casa De Los Espíritus (The House of the Spirits) after reflecting on her own family and experiences. The result is an intimate and honest novel about the struggles of power, legacy and family with a touch of magical realism (telekinesis, ghosts, clairvoyance, etc). We follow the rise and fall of the Trueba family during a time of political unrest in Chile.
For many critics, La Casa De Los Espíritus is the feminist equivalent of 100 years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, a clear influence in Allende's style.
I hope you give these books a try, they are really special and they will be a fantastic addition to your Spanish library.