How to have Bilingual Story Time at Home

Bilingual Story Time Tips

It was 8 a.m. this morning when we gathered around the table to eat our freshly baked Dutch Pancake that had just come out of the oven. In the background, I could hear one of my boys giggling that we were going to have dessert to start the day, another one passing out napkins, all while the baby was saying “mama, mama,” his favorite word these days (which I love hearing!).

It was raining, the door was open, and soon after saying Grace, I served them a slice of ‘dessert’ (the morning joke) topped with bananas and honey, and a glass of milk. We talked about the weather, rain for the third day in a row, plans for the day, and the usual taste test they do at meal time. They often like to pretend they are in a cooking show as the judges. They are so funny.

When we were close to finishing the meal, I pulled out the picture book planned for this morning’s reading aloud time. This morning we read a bilingual picture book called I Want My Banana! Quiero Mi Plátano! part of the I Can Read Spanish – Story Book Series.

For breakfast we were eating the “dessert” with bananas. One of my children said, “hey! the book is about bananas, just like what we are eating!” It is so cute when they make connections between what they are reading or hearing and what they are actually doing.

The fact that we were eating bananas made the picture book so much more authentic, especially because one of the goals of the book is to teach children to make offers and accept an offer in Spanish.

  • ¿Quieres comer un plátano? Do you want to eat a banana?
  • ¿Quiero comer un plátano. I want to eat a banana.

We were able to extend this short dialogue to offering other fruits and vegetables. It also paved the way to changing the verb and asking

  • “¿Quieres salir?”      Do you want to go out?
  • “¿Quieres dormir?” Do you want to sleep?


There are many aspects of the language that can be learned through a bilingual book. I consider the following points.

Bilingual Read Aloud English and Spanish


How to Use a Bilingual Picture Book

  1. Read all the way through in one language. Then read it again another time in the target language (Spanish).
  2. Take turns reading the book. Have a parent or another person read the parts in the second language.
  3. Decide teaching objectives. Read the book, before introducing it to the children, find out what aspects of the language could be learned from this book. Such as:
    • question formats
    • adjectives
    • singular/plural
    • verbs
  4. Make connections. Make the book real to them equals making the language come to life. Use props or real elements to illustrate the story. For example, I had real bananas at the table, so each of my children could ask the other one Quieres comer un plátano? Quieres comer lechuga? (Do you want to eat lettuce?)
  5. Plan an activity. Be intentional and plan for ways you want the children to use this new piece of the language they are acquiring from reading this story. You will want this activity to be as authentic as possible so they can see a real need to use the language.


Because my children have been exposed to English and Spanish since birth, I was able to read the story completely on my own.

How to Read a Bilingual Picture Book

  1. Draw observations. Look at the cover, ask the children to tell you what they see. What objects/animals do they see? What is happening on this picture? What are the expressions they see on the people or animals? Are they happy or sad?
  2. Read the title. Read the title in English and Spanish.  My children asked right away if the story was going to be in both languages, to which I replied si (yes) .
  3. Make predictions. I find that asking the children to make predictions at the beginning or throughout the story keeps them engaged. Ask: ¿Qué crees que sucederá después? What do you think will happen later?
  4. Vocabulary. I usually let my children infer the meaning of new vocabulary based on context. Usually they understand it. Other times, I read the sentence as is and I might give them a synonym in Spanish to the new vocabulary word.  I also tell them to repeat the new word, usually after reading the story.
  5. Feel free to read it in ONE language. Pick the target language. There are times when I pick up the book and I only read it in Spanish. This way, I am able to ask them comprehension questions and let them ask questions about the story so that I can know how much they can comprehend.


¿Qué Piensas? How do you read Bilingual books in your home? What tips do you have? Please share in the comments. 




Nos vemos,




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