Favorite Spanish Picture Books and Stories for Storytime

I’m entering my third year of being a librarian! That means I’ve got about two years of Spanish story time under my belt, and it really does get easier. Today went well because I remembered to hide the spaceship before story time (pro tip: spaceship tents are more interesting than anything you can plan), used a winning combo of story time songs, and selected fun and engaging stories.

And now, a list of all the stories that have worked best in my bilingual Spanish story times for ages 0-6 is available as a Google sheet: Favorite Spanish Picture Books and Stories.

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Weeding and buying nonfiction with circulation statistics

I’ve learned most of what I know about collection development from hands on observation of selectors at work.

From those observations, I’ve learned collection development styles can vary a lot. As one data-driven selector told me, “Some people have a gut. I don’t.” Fortunately, circulation data and spreadsheets have allowed me to roughly approximate a gut.

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Spanish story time: Lizards and Supercharged Storytimes

Not every book I choose for story time is a winner. Sometimes they’re too long. Sometimes they don’t have enough excitement. My story time crew tends to be little – ones and twos – so toddler friendly picks are a must. (I save my favorite preschool titles for outreach!) Every book that meets the bar for repeating gets marked with a ‘y’ in my handy dandy Spanish story time planning spreadsheet.

Two recent ganadores just happen to make the perfect “lizard” story time! I’ll run with a theme when I can, but it’s more important to me that the books are great choices. (Jbrary has a great post on how to develop story time flow over story time themes. )

Photo of two book covers
These two lizard books have made it on the keep list for Spanish story time

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Cinco ranas verdes: an action song for Spanish story time

Lyrics to kid song cinco ranas verdes

Frogs! Frogs everywhere! This action song is adapted from the children’s song “Un ratoncito sale de la cueva.”

It goes like this:

Cinco ranas verdes, (Enseña cinco dedos/Show five fingers)

Salen de los bolsillos, (Pasa un brazo bajo otro/Pass an arm under another)

Saltan por todas partes, (Da una palmadita en las piernas/Slap your legs)

Y juegan a la rueda. (Haz círculos con los brazos/Circle your arms)

And it continues with cuatro, tres, dos ranas until there is only una rana left:

Una rana verde,

Sale de los bolsillos,

Salta por todas partes,

Y juega a la rueda.

Videos and sheet music for the melody are available on mamalisa.com.

I tweaked the lyrics so they are about ranas (frogs) appearing out of bolsillos (pockets) in order to pair the song with Pat Mora’s Wiggling Pockets / Los bolsillos saltarines.

Wiggling pockets.jpg

Wiggling Pockets is about a family who gathers inside after outdoor playtime for a snack, but one sibling has a surprise in his pockets, frogs! They jump all around until they are finally let outside.

I used this book in a bilingual story time of mainly babies to three year olds. I would use it again!

More Spanish story time posts

More resources for multilingual action songs

Spanish story time: an Eric Carle classic & print awareness

I’ve grown emboldened this fall to place more emphasis on Spanish only stories during bilingual story time.

Picking a few key words and ideas to translate into Spanish has worked well at keeping monolingual English speakers engaged.


With this week’s pick, Papá, por favor, bájame la luna by Eric Carle, I read the Spanish text and emphasized the ECRR2 dimension of print awareness/conventions.

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Crafting stories from song for Spanish story time

Last fall, I launched a bilingual Spanish story time at my library called ¡Cantos! ¡Cuentos! ¡Juegos! I’ve discovered stories, songs, and story time structures that work (and that don’t).

One discovery I made last fall was the CD Cantar y Jugar. It’s from 2002, by Disney (sounding great, right?), but it has some surprisingly listenable versions of Latin American children’s songs.

Photo of album art for Disney presenta Cantar y Jugar showing Mickey Mouse with maracas
A shiny new copy I ordered for myself. The library copy looks more its age.

After almost a year of listening to the CD while setting up and playing after story time, the song “Que llueva” convinced me it could be something more.

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Interactive displays for families that build data literacy

The week before my wedding, I came up with a display idea for the children’s room. Not just any idea – an interactive, ties in with the strategic plan, incorporates data literacy display. You know, the week when I should be prepping my carts for ordering, and cleaning my desk, and spending all my mental energy staying calm-ish?

Fortunately, my amazing supervisor and coworkers encouraged me to work on the idea when I got back.

The Display

Bulletin board called “Walk ‘n’ Roll to the Library”  with map and lots of stickers

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Library program “Mini Clay Figures: Pokemon” drew crowds

Over 200 kids and adults have made tiny Charmanders, Squirtles, Bulbasaurs, Pokeballs, and – of course – Pikachu at the Ann Arbor District Library. The attendees used oven-bake clay to create, rather than capture, their favorite Pokemon.

Participants made Greatballs and Bulbasaurs at the second clay charms program.

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Programs, outreach, and lessons learned at the Ann Arbor District Library

Over the course of this summer, I was alternately a summer activity superhero, library information expert, and selector of library materials. Of all my activities, organizing events for the library was the most rewarding: between 10 programs, I was able to serve 340 children, teens, and adults.

Sewing Lab allows community to gain skills, design their own creations
Community members used library sewing machines to create aprons, table cloths, blankets, kids’ toys, zipper pouches, and more!

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