Best Children’s Books that Teach a Foreign Language

May 1, 2019
Written by:
Courtney Newman

Learning a foreign language can enrich and expand a person’s life, and what better time to begin learning than when you are still young?  Maybe Spanish class wasn’t your all-time favorite in school, but you’re likely thankful for it now. To make it more fun, though, we wanted to celebrate National Children’s Book Week by collecting a number of engaging books about foreign languages!  Most of these titles are bilingual, and while several cover Spanish, we have also included ASL, Italian, German, and Swahili. Regardless of the foreign language that interests you the most, we hope you’ll find something fun in this list, or that it’ll at least inspire you to find a children’s book for the language you desire.  Happy reading!

8 Books for Introducing Foreign Languages to Children

We’re often told that the best way to learn a new language is with the immersion method.  However, perhaps that doesn’t work very well for some of us, or we just need a little more direction to get started.  All of these books are great for explaining the meaning behind the words while enjoying a story.

A classic we all know and love, but this version offers a bilingual approach!  With side-by-side English and Spanish, you can begin teaching your child a Spanish vocabulary while enjoying a treasured story.  This book would be helpful for your child whether they are learning Spanish or English!

This book is a great option for visual learners!  Each picture is accompanied by a description in both Spanish and English words.  Children will be able to associate a picture of an animal, toy, or type of food, for example, and learn the word for that picture in either language.

A well-known and well-loved bedtime story.  It’s sweet, it’s beautiful, and now it’s available in a bilingual format.  With this board book, your children can have the story read to them in either Spanish or English as they are lulled to sleep.  It’s perfect for both bilingual families or those simply learning Spanish!

As another helpful Spanish resource, this book doesn’t just teach single words, but common phrases.  I love the idea of teaching actual sentences and phrases! The phrases are accompanied by vivid and colorful illustrations for easy learning.

If your child is learning ASL, this book could be very resourceful.  With covering over 100 basic signs for everyday phrases, it teaches children words for family members, food, animals, and more.  The illustrations are clear and easy to follow. Not only will kids learn general signs, but they will be taught how to sign the alphabet.  Finally, it also includes a fun sign language poster!

Is your child interested in learning Italian?  Perhaps you are a bilingual Italian family! Regardless of your reasons for interest in the Italian language, this book is here to help.  It was written by an experienced language teacher and it features a number of worksheets, coloring pages, and word searches. While it’s intended for elementary students, even older students may find it intriguing.

This book is cherished among many families.  “Jambo Means Hello” introduces children to the Swahili alphabet, with included pronunciation keys.  Further, it introduces children to East African culture for a more enriched understanding of the world.  With vivid illustrations and an understandable narrative, your child is sure to enjoy following along.

If your child is interested in learning German, they may find this picture dictionary super helpful!  The colorful illustrations span a two-page spread to demonstrate the meanings of words. This picture dictionary introduces children to more than 1,550 words that are most relatable to their daily lives: the home, the classroom, the zoo, and so on.  It also includes an index and a glossary for more specific definitions!

Homeschooling Foreign Language Resources

In addition to children’s books, there are several resources available for helping teach your child a foreign language.  While we all know about Rosetta Stone, we’ve looked for a few different apps and websites that may make the journey even more fun.  Sometimes, all you need is something fresh to spark that learning excitement again!

Courtney Newman

Courtney Newman is a homeschooled graduate with a love for writing. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Health Science at University of the People. Other than writing, her hobbies include reading, yoga, visiting the beach, and meditating. She lives with her husband and pets in coastal Virginia.