October 29


Read Aloud Books | Reading Activities to Learn Spanish

Do you have a book in Spanish? If not, you are missing out on the best source for vocabulary and skill building opportunities. I share Spanish read aloud book recommendations. And practical tips on how to read aloud. This activity will give you tons of words to use in your real life.


Picture this:

Me and my kids. We all pull out our cozy blankets and get in the favorite spot on the couch or in some imaginary place in our thoughts. I have my hot drink in hand and a book in the other. Shhhh…. It’s time to listen. Two Spanish words are on the board. They start to write and draw.

The story pours out on their listening ears. I stop reading and we talk about what just happened. We all learned new vocabulary, sentence structures and even grammar without a lesson.

The Havana family reads aloud in Spanish. Do you?

What is reading aloud?

Reading aloud is a learning activity centered around listening to a book being read out loud.

Many have fond childhood memories of sitting on the rug and listening to teacher read a book. After lunchtime, we would gather to hear our favorite stories. We loved to see the pictures. It was the highlight of the day, besides recess. But what we didn’t realize, was that we were learning some serious language skills.

This powerful language activity is not limited to classrooms and teachers. And it is far more than just reading. I will explain how reading aloud can be maximized for learning all the language skills, particularly for Spanish.

Reading aloud is so flexible. Anyone can have a read aloud time and benefit. I have learned that it is the perfect way to learn a language. For homeschool families and groups, reading aloud in Spanish is a curriculum. Families can read together. Even an individual can read aloud and get the same benefits.

Let’s see what reading aloud can do for you…

Spanish Read Aloud Benefits

Naturally, before sacrificing time and energy, understanding the benefits is a huge factor. One of the biggest challenges in learning a foreign language is not having access to hear it in real life. Reading aloud is the answer. A portion of time spent reading aloud will create a language rich environment perfect for learning.

Reading aloud is an at home (or anywhere) immersion program. You don’t have to go to the gym to work out or own a jet to travel. Do a push up. Go for a drive in your car. Similarly, pick up a book in Spanish and read it out loud. This will bring the language into your life, right here and now.

Model of Spanish language

To begin with, books are a grammatically correct model of language. Pages and pages full of thoughts are expressed in every way you can imagine. Each thought has been carefully written and edited before printing. The text provides a real world, even if it’s fiction, example of grammar in action.

Also, at times, some books even put conversations into print. This is huge – it’s an instant replay of the way people speak. Although technically not a conversation the author painstakingly creates a print version of real speech. You can examine how people make demands, ask questions, express desires and state fact and emotions.

Spanish Vocabulary

To add to that, the text is a valuable source for quality vocabulary. The author has carefully chosen a wide variety of words to describe, tell a story and give detailed information. Writers carefully craft sentences with skillful choice of words.

Spanish Language Skills Growth

Not only reading aloud, but also the additional activities engage every language skill. The reader practices reading and speaking skills. Listeners practice listening and writing skills. In different ways each comprehension and expression skill is used.

Simultaneously, during a read aloud time, many language skills can be developed, not just reading.

Read aloud activities and lessons

Most important of all, the structure of the read aloud time will drive the language growth opportunities. In a short time, all the four language skills will be actively processing. During that time, different activities can be done to maximize thinking and memory processes. That additional spells massive language growth.

Fringe Benefits

Beyond the language skills, reading aloud has many other extra benefits.

Bonding.  Reading aloud is a way to connect with friends and family. Priceless conversations will come from the stories and information. The time spent together is a treasure. And hopefully a time everyone will look forward to.

Attention span. Life skills are developed too. The ability to focus, sit still and listen actively are important skills to have. And the ability to use the imagination and be creative are essential to a well developed mind. Reading aloud provides opportunity to do both.

Knowledge. The learning topics are endless. At the same time you pick a book, you also pick the topics the book contains. Every book has unique combination of time, place, characters, settings. Often, the message will expose you to new information and ideas.

Flexibility. There are so many options from location to books. You choose what, when and where to read. The books are inexpensive and portable. So, you can read at home, in the yard, at the park or a meeting place for book club. Sometimes it’s a great solution for creating a quiet time in the afternoon or bedtime. Or, you can squeeze it in at breakfast or dinner time.

Ready to read aloud?

Read Aloud Structure

Without a doubt, going through each of these phases will increase the language learning opportunities. As I said before, this activity is more than reading. With these additional points, it becomes an opportunity to read, speak, listen and write in Spanish.

Even more important, the time spent discussing before, during and after are essential to engage with the text.

I allow a total of 30 minutes for our read aloud time. In this time, we go through three phases:

1. Before Reading Discussion – 5 minutes
2. Reading Aloud – 10 minutes
3. After Reading Discussion – 5 minutes

These are my target time frames. I leave an extra ten minutes as wiggle room for any part that needs extra attention. Occasionally, you may need more or less time, but keep in mind this is a short and sweet activity.

If at any point it becomes frustrating or an unpleasant experience, there are certain tips and strategies listed below. Follow those or just stop and try again later.

Before Reading Discussion – 5 minutes

To start, introduce the book and some key words for the reading. Before reading, scan the text to find a couple words of interest. This will help with comprehension, especially for beginners who will understand little.

• Write selected words, phrases, sentences on board
• Define and explain meaning of word
• Ask a starter question

If you don’t have these vocabulary sheets, get them now right HERE:

<<< Word Exploration Sheets >>>

pink background two printed worksheet pages titled nouns word exploration

We use them to create our own personal word collections. There is space to write the word, gender for nouns, a picture, sample sentence, synonyms and antonyms. Find out how to use them HERE:


These worksheets are the foundation for vocabulary growth. While you introduce and explain the words, they can write them and draw a visual definition on the sheet. Later, more can be added and expanded for each new word learned.

Spanish Only Limitation

Of greatest importance, to maximize the learning experience limit yourself to Spanish. No definitions in English. If all you’ve got is one word, use it. Or if all you’ve got is a picture, start drawing. You can even use objects too. One time, I pulled out my cooking pot to show my kids what la olla means.

  • Act it out
  • Draw a picture
  • Show the object or a picture of it

Plus, a dictionary is a great source for definitions. If you have no clue what a word means, of course, look the definition up in the dictionary. For those with no experience, a Spanish-English translation is alright. But aim to transition to a Spanish dictionary ASAP. 

Linguee Online Dictionary >>>

A Starter Question

After the introduction to key words, a quick introduction or question will start a conversation. This creates engagement from the start. With the thinking processes comes much language skill growth.

For a new book introduce the title and author:
El titulo es… The title is…
El (la) autor (autora) es… The author is…

For beginners, a one word question and answer will help build confidence:
¿Quién? Who?
¿Dónde? Where?
¿Cuándo? When?

As you become more comfortable, use these discussion starters:
¿Qué es importante? What is important?
Dime lo que recuerdas. Tell me what you remember.
¿Qué sucederá a continuación? What will happen next?

Remember to keep this before reading conversation really basic, easy and short. A beginner may only be able to ask or answer with single words. Perfect starting point! With more practice, it will become more natural to be able to say more.

Reading Aloud – 10 minutes

Everyone sit back and enjoy. The more engaged everyone is with the text, the better. This is a very active process. Remove all distractions and give the listeners something good to do. Listening, reading, speaking and writing skills are maximized with activities to engage thinking and memory.

For the Reader

Two language skills, reading and speaking, are your focus. If you are already a good reader that part should come pretty naturally. However, Spanish has some different sounds that will be tricky.

The biggest challenge for the reader is pronunciation. Get this handy bookmark to use as a pronunciation guide (that holds your page too) HERE:

<<< Spanish Sounds Bookmark >>>

yellow background open book icon and bookmark image

And for more details about how to say the Spanish letter sounds correctly, HERE:


Instead of inventing things to say, you get to focus on how to say it right. This is a rare opportunity in learning a language. Maximize the time you are reading for this purpose.

For the Listener

The focus for the listener is simply understanding. The extra work and distraction of decoding words is eliminated. Focused listening maximizes oral comprehension skills.

Questions Cheat Sheet

Click for FREE download

As a consequence, the listener can engage with the text in these ways:

• keep a notebook of new words
• draw more detail for vocabulary
• build a model with blocks, legos or dough

Although the listener may not understand much in the beginning, consistent listening practice will develop comprehension skill over time. Do not get discouraged, it will get easier and better with more learning opportunities.

Tips to Stay Engaged

Even in the read aloud time, intentional discussion points are important. A strategic question will keep everyone focused and engaged with the unfolding story or information.

Ask a thought provoking question

¿Es verdad? Is this true?
¿Estas de acuerdo? Do you agree?
Dime sobre… Tell me about…

Stop at a pivotal moment for a cliffhanger

¿Qué sucederá a continuación? What will happen next?

Thinking and memory makes learning more effective. Sitting by passively will not grow language skills. It is so important to engage with the text at all times.

After Reading Discussion – 5 minutes

The final portion of read aloud time is a simple conversation. The purpose is to show comprehension and learn how to express thoughts about the text. This step is crucial to maximize speaking skills.

• Write selected words, phrases, sentences on board
• Define and explain meaning
• Ask an ending question

An Ending Question

After reading aloud and listening, a simple question will start a discussion about the text. End with a question to retell the story or main points.

¿Qué leí? What did I read?
¿Qué harías? What would you do?
Dime que entendiste. Tell me what you understood.
¿Qué sucederá a continuación? What will happen next?

For beginners, it would be enough to pick favorite words or phrases from the reading. Or, a hands-on activity to retell the story or information.

• Make a notebook page
• Act out a scene
• Make a map
• Do a presentation about what you learned

Most important, it is necessary to keep realistic expectations. No experience means you cannot do anything at all. So, scale to your experience level and aim for easy. The purpose is to practice perfectly with a good model of language. Growth will happen with consistent practice.

Read aloud tips and strategies

These read aloud tips and strategies will set you up for success. We all know everything has challenges. Use these tips as a guide to handle the obstacles of reading aloud. Hopefully, applying them early will create a positive learning environment.

Comfortable, Fun and Cozy

From the start, approach reading aloud as something special, because it is a rewarding activity. Find a book all of you will enjoy with lots of pictures. The best set up for the occasion is a comfortable and cozy environment. And do your best to eliminate distractions.

Clear Expectations

To set them (and yourself) up for success, the universal expectation is nobody understands anything. Sound crazy? Not really, because each learner is starting with no Spanish experience. This is a process of building and growth from zero. That comes with consistent practice.

Be Selective

The best book to read aloud in Spanish is the easiest and most interesting. Even in the best books, parts will drag or be too hard. You can stop and skip anytime. Don’t hesitate to skip the lame books either. It’s never too late to start with another book.

Make Adjustments for Skill Level

The same book will work for everyone. But, some adjustments may be necessary. Always do what is easy for the individual according to their abilities. Length of text and repetition will ensure maximum learning opportunities.

Too Hard?

Read smaller portions
Lower reading level
Repeat sentences, paragraphs or sections
Focus on words, phrases, or sentences

Too Easy?

Read larger sections
Higher reading level
Add more challenging activities to reading time
Focus on writing

Share and Reward

Regularly allow for opportunities for everyone to share their work. This is the time to shower them with praise and rewards. You know what motivates them.

With these ideas in mind, it’s time to put them into action.

Read Aloud Books – Good Books to Read in Spanish

Surely, choosing a great book in Spanish to read aloud is essential. There are so many options out there, but not all of them are going to be a good fit.

Many Types of Reading Materials

Any type of print material can be a read aloud. They are not all in the format of a book. Yet, my favorites are stories that have action, dialogue and description. For simple stories, children’s books are ideal. Informational articles have topical vocabulary.

A List of Good Reading Material

There are so many options out there. You pick your best and most favorite reading – children stories, preschool board books, dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, magazine articles, speeches, famous quotes, poems, blog posts, best sellers, mystery, classic literature, biography, historical fiction, science, mathematics, history, non-fiction, etc…

The best read aloud will have the content you prefer. This is what will motivate everyone. Nobody will want to read or listen to something they don’t enjoy. If what you chose is not working, stop and find the material that draws in everyone.

Traits of Good Writing

Not all books are created equally. Some will be better suited to your purposes than others. This list of good writing traits will help you decide whether a book is suitable. To select a good book, these are the things to look for:


main point and supporting details
a message that provokes thought or inspires


internal structure
Examples: chronological order, persuasive argument, thematic, narrative, prose, analysis,
comparison and contrast


unique style of author, tone


word choice
rich, colorful, precise
Creates images
Figurative language

Sentence Fluency

rhythm and flow of language
varied in structure and length
makes sense


correct grammar and usage

It is best to include a variety of reading materials. Once you find a favorite author, find more of their books. And keep expanding into different types of sources.

Book Recommendations

To be honest, there’s a lot of poorly written Spanish books, especially bad translations. So, I am always looking for the great books that have a high quality of writing. I will share all the great things I find with you on the blog. Here are some of our favorite books:

girl holding stuffed animal on grass field with bushes and sunshineThe Celia series by Elena Fortun is humorous and easy to read. The stories are entertaining with a lot of action, description and dialogue.

Get more information about the series HERE:







close up of person holding open book

Another great read aloud book option are books of fables. The fables are short stories (one or two paragraphs) and end with a one sentence message. They are perfect to use as copywork.

I list a some books of fables HERE:





There are some amazing books out there, but sometimes they are hard to find. Don’t let that keep you from starting. I was able to find the Celia books used online and the fables in the public library. Check out your local library to see whats on the children’s Spanish shelf.

Wrap Up

All in all, reading aloud is an extremely effective way to learn Spanish. From my personal experience, the benefits of reading aloud are not replaceable. All the language skills can be improved through this one activity. All it takesIt takes a small, but regular time commitment. And the content is an absolute treasure.

So, don’t miss out on one of the best ways to learn Spanish, jump in and get started.

Need some more details about how to talk about the reading? Check this detailed post:





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