Allow me to make your life a little easier

Guys, I think I’ve found the solution to a problem you may not have known you had.

A short while ago I started wondering, searching, asking, whether there were any quality Spanish book subscription services. Don’t get me wrong, I love scouring the depths of the internet and our local book stores (and forcing my mother to buy countless books in PR) for good finds, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone else do the work for you. So,  if you love Spanish board or picture books (or know someone who does), but you don’t want to spend the (sometimes crazy long) time it may take to find quality books, I found what you’ve been looking for.

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5 Books You Can Read In Any Language

I’m a huge fan of wordless (or nearly wordless) picture books for one big reason: you can read them to your child in whatever language strikes your fancy. Unlike books in English or Slovak, I don’t have to worry about translating the story. And I can choose how long to make the story last, depending on how much detail I go into in describing the images. My kids really enjoy these books and they love that they can ‘read’ them all by themselves, without having to worry they’re missing a vital part of the narrative in the text. They also like finding new things to talk about on each page, like a funny background detail we hadn’t noticed before.

That being said, Mr. OneDosTres dislikes wordless books–there’s not as much structure to the story and he’s sometimes not sure how to ‘read’ what’s on the page. So they definitely aren’t everyone’s jam. But I encourage you to give them a try! (This post contains affiliate links.)

Mr. Wuffles

This is the story of ant-sized aliens who land among Mr. Wuffles’ toys and find themselves the center of his attention. They are forced to leave their ship and encounter house bugs, with whom they work to outsmart the cat. What I most love about this book is how the story changes depending on who I read it to–E loves it because it’s about a bored and playful cat, while N loves it because it involves aliens working together with insects to outwit a common threat.

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Using a Kids’ Tablet For Language Advantage

Our kids don’t watch a ton of TV, but when we travel (especially on planes) that goes out the window. We got our kids the Fire Kids Edition Tablet and in the days before our trip I’ll usually spend some time downloading Spanish kids’ shows available on Amazon for free through Prime (and a handful of their favorite shows that were not available for free). You can also check out my previous post on how to filter Amazon for Spanish language videos. (This post contains affiliate links.)

I used to be pretty anti-tablet for our kids (just a personal choice!), but about a year ago we left N and E with a new babysitter, while our regular (amazing) nanny was on vacation. One night I came home from work and N asked me to put on some music, after which he proceeded to dance ‘like the video,’ but only after we ‘paid’ him. I never found out what video he may have seen with that pinch hitting babysitter, but it took me a good 6 weeks to convince him it was ballet. In any case, since then I’ve tried to control these tech-savvy kiddo’s video intake and I found that this tablet had all the parental controls I was looking for (it automatically turns off their access at certain times or after a certain amount of videos/games/books too!). It’s been an added bonus that I can load it up with Spanish shows and they still feel like they have control over what they watch.

In any case, I thought I would share! We’re gearing up for a short vacation this summer and I’ll be loading their tablets with Spanish shows once again. Stay tuned for my list of shows that are available, so you can avoid the (embarrassingly long) amount of time it sometimes takes me to find what I need.

And if you’re interested, it looks like Amazon has some current deals on the tablets (links with details posted below). We got the kids’ version because it comes with the cover,  1 year of “FreeTime Unlimited” (which basically offers access to a ton of kid-friendly books, videos, apps & games, though most are in English) and the 2 year guaranty that whatever your kids do to it, you can get a new one (that was the big draw for us). But you can just as easily turn on the parental controls using a ‘regular’ Kindle Fire. Let me know if you have a different system you enjoy more! We’re always open to new ideas.

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Spanish Audio Books for Young Kids

I confess, we don’t use audio books that often, but in part that’s because the kids won’t let me play anything other than Let It Go (the song that won’t die) and the Mickey Mouse club theme song (they don’t even watch the show, have never watched it, but for some reason they are OBSESSED with this song) in the car and the Moana soundtrack at home.  But I’ve seen some requests for a good compilation of available audio books and recordings for kids and thought this may be a good opportunity to share some options with you. This post tackles Spanish audio books for younger kids (2-5), but I’ll add suggestions for older kids at a later date. (The following contains affiliate links.)

This old school cassette and book combo of Buenas noches, luna may be a good choice for younger kids.

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Early Exposure to a Second Language & Reading to Your Kids Can Give Them A Leg Up

I thought I would share some interesting research I’ve seen recently, which may be of interest to some of you as well.  It may already be common knowledge, but a recent study described in this article and in the below video demonstrates that infants raised in bilingual (and presumably multilingual) environments demonstrate cognitive benefits at a younger age than previously thought.

Another study discussed in the Huffington Post shows the importance of reading aloud to children from birth, which may form part of the “language-rich interactions” that are so beneficial to young children and which may be associated with cognitive benefits years down the road–one study discussed in the article shows that children who grow up among books are”nearly 20 times more likely to graduate from college.”

So! I encourage you to find some time in the day to read to your kids (and if you can, do it in the minority language)! Make it part of your nighttime or morning rituals (or both!) and enjoy the many rewards associate with reading with your children.  If you are looking for some recommendations, check out my past ones here.  And for any mothers/parents to newborn or young infants out there who are deep in baby-world and can’t stand another kids’ book right now, I highly recommend finding an adult book of interest in your preferred language and read that aloud to them. When N was a newborn and had marathon nursing sessions, reading aloud was often the only thing keeping me awake! (And I confess, I sometimes also read aloud from Facebook–but hey, whatever works!)