Reading materials for Portuguese learners are ample and diverse.
They come in different forms and they’re all over the place.
Not only will they put your linguistic knowledge to the test, they’ll also capture your imagination.
Whether you’re learning the Brazilian or European variety, you’re bound to fall in love with some of the Portuguese-language literature that’s available right at your fingertips.
All you need is a bit of savvy when it comes to looking for the right books. Which is where this blog post comes in.
Today, we’re going to look at how to find easy Portuguese books for learners in the most convenient place: online.
With that in mind, let’s begin our epic literary adventure.
Finding Portuguese-language Books Online
Throughout your Portuguese learning journey, you’ll be looking for new resources and materials to get you speaking the language like a pro.
With books, it’s no different. Knowing what you’re looking for will help immensely, but the sheer thrill of browsing through an online library will still play a role in your reading habits.
If that’s sounding a bit overwhelming right now, try easing yourself in. Compile a short list using some of our recommendations below before plunging into your chosen e-book website (we’ll get to that, too!), and then browse from there and see what interests you, just as you would on any English-language platform.
Another good option might be to look for Portuguese versions of your favorite books—finding the translated title is as simple as typing the English name into Google’s Brazilian or Portuguese engines (just make sure to choose the Portuguese language option).
Now, let’s focus our attention on those online book sources.
Where to Find Portuguese Books Online
- Luso Livros: This is a website that hosts a trove of book titles that fall under public domain. Interestingly, all of Luso Livro’s works have been edited to suit the most recent Portuguese orthographic reforms, as agreed upon by various Lusophone countries.
- Instituto Camões: Named after the esteemed author Luís de Camões, this institute and its website were created to foster and promote the Portuguese language worldwide. Instituto Camões has an online library, which houses an interesting collection of titles that range from children’s literature to philosophy and science.
- Projecto Adamastor: Another public domain library hailing from Portugal, Projecto Adamastor was created to fill a void in the e-book world—their aim is to provide appropriately formatted, downloadable materials that are easy to read, free of errors and stay as true to the original as possible.
Where to Find Brazilian Books Online
- Domínio Público BR: This is the Brazilian government’s online collection of titles that fall under public domain. What makes this resource interesting is that it houses books and audio materials in various languages—including Portuguese, English, French, Latin, Spanish and German.
- Livros Grátis: The site’s name literally translates to “free books,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. This one covers a lot of topics, including literature, philosophy, math, science, geography and history. It even comes with resource materials for high school and college students.
- Virtual Books: Another site that lives up to its name. Not only will you find a generous collection of Brazilian Portuguese fiction, non-fiction and poetry, you’ll also be able to browse through a collection of books in various other languages (like English, German and Italian).
Where to Find a Healthy Mix of Both
- Kobo: If you have a Kobo e-reader, take a look at some of the free Portuguese books in their collection. Browse through the titles on their home page, and read their descriptions—if you can get the gist of the story, and it sounds right up your alley, then add it to your collection!
- Amazon: Likewise, Amazon has its own offering of Portuguese e-books and physical books for readers to sift through, many of them free. Use the same methods here: Try looking at the popular titles, and see if you can find something that interests you and is easy enough to understand.
- Free-EBooks.net: While we’re focusing on easier works, this site can become an invaluable resource for those looking for advanced reading material from both Portugal and Brazil. The site has its share of children’s literature and magazines to suit our purposes for right now, but the more sophisticated, academic works that predominate its pages may help to hold your interest later on.
Quick Tips for Book-loving Portuguese Learners
Okay, so we’ve given you plenty of tips for where to get easy Portuguese books online. And below, we’ll share some specific book recommendations. But what about actually choosing and going through your desired material?
As with a certain fairy tale ending, slow and steady wins the literary race.
We recommend that you start with children’s and young adult fiction—mostly because they will use simpler descriptions and language. It’s best to avoid classic literature until you’re reading at an advanced level, unless you truly know that you can handle the content at hand. In the same way you wouldn’t expect someone who’s studying English to master a Shakespearean play, one wouldn’t expect a Portuguese language learner to plunge into the works of, say, Brazilian author Clarice Lispector.
Make it your mission to read a manageable number of pages per day. Obviously, this will be different for everyone—you might be comfortable with a full chapter, or 5-10 pages at a time. Test out a few intensities to find your comfort zone, and then devise a reading schedule based on that.
Keep a dictionary handy in case you need to look up any unfamiliar terms in order to understand what you’re reading. Also, make sure that you’re putting those newly acquired reading skills to practice using any online resource you have at your fingertips.
With FluentU’s upcoming Portuguese program, you’ll be able to test your new vocab against real-world videos. FluentU takes music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
With all that said and done, it’s time to focus on the next chapter.
8 Easy Portuguese-language Books to Bookmark Right Now
Some of these recommendations are based on that previous advice about children’s works. There are, however, also examples of classic and contemporary literature that can be tackled by beginner-intermediate learners, and we’ll get to those as well.
Easy Books for Kids All Learners Can Enjoy
“Aventuras de Dona Redonda” by Virgínia de Castro e Almeida (Portugal)
“Aventuras de Dona Redonda” is a classic two-volume series with a great mix of fantasy, adventure and humor. The story is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s style of writing, and appeals to the absurd nature of things around us. Its title literally translates to “Adventures of Dona Redonda”—the character in question being an old, rotund lady who brings wisdom and wit to the entire narrative.
“História Alegre de Portugal” by Manuel Pinheiro Chagas (Portugal)
“História Alegre de Portugal” is literally what its title (A Happy History of Portugal) says—a lighthearted, kid-friendly showcase of Portuguese history. The book was published in 1880 and uses historical events to build its narrative. In the story, a former teacher relates the history of the country to a tribal group.
“Uma Aventura” series by Ana Maria Magalhães and Isabel Alçada (Portugal)
A multi-volume collection of children’s stories that started in 1980s and is still getting new installments to date, “Uma Aventura” includes various stories following five teenagers: twin sisters Teresa and Luísa, as well as Pedro, Chico and João. The 1997 book “Uma Aventura na Casa Assombrada” (An Adventure in a Haunted House) was adapted into a film in 2009.
“A Chave do Tamanho” by Monteiro Lobato (Brazil)
Monteiro Lobato’s works are a Brazilian literary treasure. They’re taught in schools and have been adapted into various plays and movies since their inception. “A Chave do Tamanho,” which loosely translates as “The Size Key,” was published in 1942. Its story is inspired by the tensions and turmoil surrounding the Second World War.
Seeing that Dona Benta is upset by all the violence, Emília (a talking ragdoll) tries to find the key that will take her to the end of the world—where she hopes she’ll find a way to restore happiness. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong key, and makes the entire world shrink in size.
“Meu Pé de Laranja Lima” by José Mauro de Vasconcelos (Brazil)
Everyone, of all ages, will fall in love with this story. This classic book was published in 1968 and has been translated to multiple languages—its English title is “My Sweet Orange Tree.” It tells the story of six-year-old Zezé, who comes from a really poor family. The little boy relates his life, and all his hopes and dreams, to an orange grove in his backyard.
You can check on Amazon for availability of the revised edition of this book, which has been amended to suit those orthographic changes we mentioned earlier. Alternatively, the Paraíba Judicial Library has made the original version available for download—to find it, just click on the “Outros” tab at the end of the e-book section.
“O Menino Maluquinho” by Ziraldo (Brazil)
“O Menino Maluquinho” revolves around a quirky boy (hence the book’s title) who wears a cooking pot on his head and likes to get up to mischief. The original book was published in 1980, and its surge in popularity inspired Ziraldo (who’s also a cartoonist by trade) to turn his lighthearted story into a series of comic books—which were published from the 1990s to the early 2000s.
Easy Books for Older Audiences
Not feeling the love for children’s literature? Perhaps you’re wanting to challenge yourself with something that’s geared towards an older audience? Either way, here are a couple of not-too-difficult books for adults you could try.
“O Alquimista” by Paulo Coelho (Brazil)
Better known as “The Alchemist” in the English-speaking world, Paulo Coelho’s international bestseller received its surge in popularity partly because it’s written in fairly layman terms. The book, which has been translated into several languages, follows a young Andalusian pastor named Santiago, who travels to Egypt after a series of mysterious recurring dreams.
“Livro do Desassossego” by Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)
Admittedly, this is going to be the hardest book on our list. But even so, this classic piece of Portuguese literature (The Book of Disquiet) is written in quite an accessible language. Its complexity stems out of the fact that this novel is divided into semi-autobiographical fragments. Considered to be the author’s deepest narrative, “Livro do Desassossego” was Fernando Pessoa’s final book. It was published in 1982, some 47 years after Pessoa’s death.
Phew! That’s a lot of stuff for a single learner library!
But that’s the beauty of reading in the Portuguese language—you’ll never be out of options.
Have fun exploring the wonderful literature around you, and don’t forget to put those words to good use!
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