3 Things You Need to Know for Reading With Your Bilingual Child

3 Things You Need to Know for Reading With Your Bilingual Child


Raising  a bilingual child is the goal of many parents. For many, this goal comes with such wonderful moments, but it can also be met with challenges. One of the hardest things we see when raising a bilingual child is engaging them in reading, especially in their second language. That’s why we want to share different ideas that can help create more engagement when it comes to dual language reading at home.

Entonces, ¿Qué hacemos cuando tus hijos no quieren leer en español? Three aspects that we found can help in creating motivation in second language reading are what I call the QVC of literacy: Quality of books, Variety and Choice, allowing for your child to have a voice in choosing the books that they read. 


The quality of books in your home is key to engaging young readers. Quality is not just about topics of interest, but books that look engaging to a child. Books are the window to the world for children. For them, exposure to relatable books that have great illustrations and captivating vocabulary can be an incredibly powerful experience. 

When selecting quality books look for:

  • Culturally diverse

Books that talk about various cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Books that are about characters of minority groups and tell their stories authentic ways. This not only introduces a child to other experiences, but it helps them see the world through a different lense.

  • Relatable

Books that kids  can relate to, and may have experienced similar things. Kids can see their lives, experiences and even their appearance in the character.

  • Rich in vocabulary

Books that are full of words that will help enhance your child's own vocabulary in their first or second language. Vocabulary building increases comprehension and strengthens their language confidence. 

  • Engaging Illustrations

This can mean many things, but most of all illustrations that don’t need words to grab a child’s attention. Some important factors include: realistic, colorful, detailed and images that can transport them  to the place that the author created in the story.


When it comes to variedad, children benefit from being exposed to as many books as possible. This can help with our kid’s innate curiosity and their desire to explore new things. Giving them the opportunity to read about different topics will also help them learn about the world and expose them to new concepts. Variety can also broaden their knowledge of subjects that they are already interested in and create motivation for more. Remember that variety can mean different things at different ages and evolves as the child grows. 


Last but not least, having the opportunity to express their opinion and make a choice is empowering for children. Most kids have their days planned and structured for them, so giving them a chance to choose and express their likes and dislikes in literacy is a wonderful tool for their personal growth. Choice can be motivation, but it can also be overwhelming to some of us, and especially so for children. It is important to keep in mind that having a controlled choice can be just as beneficial. Controlled choice means having choice but in a manageable way. We will look more into this subject as we look at what works for each age.

Here are some tips for creating motivation and supporting our lectores based on their age and keeping in mind that children are evolving beings and need different things at different stages of their development. 

0-2 years old

Variety: Variety is very important in the early years. Try to expose your baby to different textures, colors and sounds. Board books are known to have these wonderful features that can add variety to your collection. Also, different subjects of interest such as animals, modes of transportation, families, colors, shapes, etc.Books that have short stories or vocabulary words in both English and Spanish can allow for babies to start listening to new words and getting familiar with new concepts.

Why this book? Bueno, this book is one that babies can touch, munch on and take with them on adventures. Each illustration literally comes to life so that your child can feel and learn. This book is full of colors to promote stimulation and it has a mirror to help with their development.

3-4 years old

Quality: Our active toddlers/preschoolers may be very easily distracted at this age, let's get them excited about books that spark their interest. Books that are funny can be a big deal at this age. Books with animals as main characters will also be very engaging for a toddler. Patterns and repetition can ignite motivation and foster vocabulary acquisition at this age,

Variety: Add books to your library that have  funny, interesting main characters and that foster your child’s current interest. Your little person is growing and is showing more interests and demands but can also benefit from your direction. This is a great age to introduce them to different concepts and storylines while also keeping in line with their interests. Try libros en español that relate to topics that they can’t get enough of -- such as trucks, mermaids, and of course, animals!


5-7 years old

Choice: Choice, choice, choice!! We have little independent humans at this age! You can use bags or bins to hold books that can be interchanged on a weekly basis. This is a great way to give them choice in a manageable way. At this age it’s also about more complex stories so these books tend to be longer and more involved.  You can encourage independent picture reading  during play time on their own. They can take their bag and have the week’s books for play and then they can choose one book for story time after independent exploration.

Why this book? This wonderful libro is packed with culture, colors and imagination. Its illustrations transport you to the main character’s dreams and thoughts. This book is a great choice to have in a rotation of book bags or bins.