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Using Spanish children’s books to teach Spanish

I have been teaching Spanish to children using children’s stories for 14 years. Sometimes, I still can’t predict when a particular book will captivate the imaginations of my students. This week I found one of those magical books that thrilled my students ages 7 through 12. I wasn’t totally surprised when my second and third graders loved it, but I’m used to my sixth and seventh graders looking at “children’s” books with a critical eye. This book made them laugh out loud and squeal (in Spanish, of course) with the discovery of patterns and foreshadowing in each picture. The book is called Oso en bicicletaby Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter. As a Spanish teacher, it has all the qualities I look for in a book: repetitive verse, engaging pictures, and thematic relevance (we are studying different modes of transportation as well as various forms of the verb “ir”). But I had no idea until I read it with my students all that they would discover. Illustrator Harter takes content and color themes through each page of the book. Here are some of my students observations:
“Hay tres niñas con vestidos blancos y negros.”
“La mujer y su perro en el mercado están en la playa también.”
“Muchas páginas tienen las nubes.”
They also disovered that Oso’s journey destination was forshadowed in the preceding page. My students had so much fun with this book that I just had to share it.

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