Ever thought of embracing your inner child to help improve your language skills?
There are tons of great learning resources intended for children.
A lot of language students are learning a language by reading books, and children’s books are one of the best options out there—more specifically, dual-language children’s books.
Here are our top 10 bilingual children’s books to help you learn like a kid!
- Why Read Dual-language Children’s Books?
- Where to Find Dual-language Children’s Books
- 10 Picture-perfect Dual-language Children’s Books
- “Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story”
- “Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella”
- “10 Bed-Time Stories in French and English with Audio”
- “Hansel and Gretel”
- “Ottavia e i Gatti di Roma – Octavia and the Cats of Rome: A bilingual picture book in Italian and English”
- “Treasury of Japanese Folktales: Bilingual English and Japanese Edition”
- “This Next New Year (Korean-English Bilingual Edition)”
- “Sports Day in the Jungle”
- “Rani and the Wicked Witch Queen”
- “Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina – Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America (English and Spanish Edition)”
Why Read Dual-language Children’s Books?
One of the more obvious reasons why you might want to read dual-language children’s books is that you want to give your child the gift of another language. Dual-language books are great for children, whether you’re learning with your child or just trying to help them learn. When the text is available fully in their native language, it’ll help clarify the meaning even if your child doesn’t yet know much of the target language or is still learning how to read.
Whether or not you have kids yourself, you might try reading dual-language books for kids if you’re a beginning language student looking to jump into reading. They’re an easy, unintimidating way to transition towards reading more difficult texts.
What’s more, if you appreciate an extra dose of adorability in your language learning routine, this type of book is a resource you might want to consider using. If you’re a sucker for anything adorable, children’s books will keep you coming back for more with cute drawings and interesting characters.
Where to Find Dual-language Children’s Books
Amazon has everything, so it should come as no surprise that plenty of dual-language children’s books are among the offerings. To find them, all you have to do is search the name of your target language along with “dual-language children’s book” or “bilingual children’s book.” There are options for a wide variety of languages, so chances are good that they’ll have the right book for you.
Language Lizard offers bilingual children’s books in over 50 languages, including uncommon options like Tigrinya. Each book comes in multiple languages, so if you’re studying several languages at once, you might even want to purchase several versions of a book. You can easily browse by language by simply selecting your target language on the left side of the screen.
10 Picture-perfect Dual-language Children’s Books
“Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story”
“Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story” uses Arabic and English to tell the story of a family fleeing their home during war. The content is timely and socially relevant. Additionally, the artwork by Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr uses stonework, making it particularly innovative and visually appealing. If you or your child are learning Arabic, this is an excellent way to practice Arabic language skills while tackling an important topic.
“Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella”
“Yeh-Hsien” or “Ye Xian” is a Chinese fairy tale that’s very similar to the story of Cinderella. However, the Chinese version, which can be found in multiple language pairings from Language Lizard, including Chinese-English, likely predates the European tale. In this version of the tale, Yeh-Hsien is left living with a mean stepmother and stepsister. “Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella” has some aspects Cinderella fans will be familiar with, like animal friends and special shoes, paired with some uniquely Chinese features.
“10 Bed-Time Stories in French and English with Audio”
“10 Bed-Time Stories in French and English with Audio” includes short stories that children and adult readers will enjoy. Rather than featuring one language per page, this dual text switches between languages every few lines, making reading easier for beginning students. Plus, “10 Bed-Time Stories in French and English with Audio” comes with a free MP3 audio download in both English and French. This is a great way to connect words with their pronunciations or apply the dual-language experience to listening practice by listening in both languages.
“Hansel and Gretel”
“Hansel and Gretel,” published in German-English and other language pairs, tells the well-known German fairy tale about a young boy and girl who stumble upon a house built of sweets only to be taken captive by an evil witch. The familiarity of the story combined with the vivid pictures will likely make the book easy for anyone to understand, regardless of language proficiency.
“Ottavia e i Gatti di Roma – Octavia and the Cats of Rome: A bilingual picture book in Italian and English”
“Ottavia e i Gatti di Roma” (“Octavia and the Cats of Rome”) follows two cats on their adventures in Rome. It incorporates popular sites like the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Mouth of Truth—kind of like “Roman Holiday” for cats! The feline adventure combines both culture and language for a rich learning experience. Plus, there’s a section to provide readers with additional information on sights, as well as a map to help readers visualize the layout of the city.
“Treasury of Japanese Folktales: Bilingual English and Japanese Edition”
“Treasury of Japanese Folktales: Bilingual English and Japanese Edition” features 12 stories from Japan, including legends and fairy tales. The fantastical tales tell of princesses, cauldrons and even an underwater palace, making for a fun way to improve your Japanese.
“This Next New Year (Korean-English Bilingual Edition)”
“This Next New Year” is a Korean-English bilingual text that follows a boy who’s excited about the Lunar New Year. It’s a useful way to practice your Korean while examining references relevant to New Year traditions, particularly Lunar New Year traditions, and it also features multicultural situations and characters, making it relevant in a broader social and cultural context.
“Sports Day in the Jungle”
“Sports Day in the Jungle” can be purchased in Portuguese-English and several other language pairs. It follows a sloth who can’t participate in the jungle games due to his slow speed. However, his unique skills may still prove useful. There’s plenty of animal vocabulary, which is good stuff for Portuguese students to learn.
“Rani and the Wicked Witch Queen”
“Rani and the Wicked Witch Queen” is published in Russian-English and several other pairings involving Eastern and Central European languages. The story is based on a folktale of the Romani people, sometimes called “gypsies,” who historically traveled across Europe. In this story, Rani meets a prince, and the prince wants to marry Rani. However, a wicked witch stirs up trouble.
“Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina – Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America (English and Spanish Edition)”
This book includes popular songs and rhyming texts from Latin America. Reading rhyming texts can be a helpful way to memorize additional vocabulary. Even if you can’t come up with a word right away, once you’ve memorized a rhyming text, it’s easy to think through that text to remember key words. While the book doesn’t come with audio, the songs are popular ones, so you can easily look them up and sing along. For instance, “Aserrín aserrán” (“Sawdust sawdust”) is available on YouTube.
These books are an easy, unintimidating way to transition towards reading more difficult texts. They work even better if you supplement them with audio and other engaging dual-language options like FluentU.
FluentU is a mobile language learning app that immerses you in your target language through authentic media, including nursery rhymes and cartoons if you enjoy learning like a child. Every video contains bilingual captions which are annotated with dictionary definitions, example sentences, images and related videos. Add any word from these videos into a custom word list or flashcard set, and put your knowledge to the test with the app’s personalized quizzes.
Oh, the joys of being a kid again!
Remember that language learning should be fun, and these dual-language children’s books definitely make it an enjoyable experience.