You know that feeling of satisfaction when you finally begin a conversation in Spanish?
What about the pleasure you experience from understanding movies or songs in Spanish?
If you can tick those things off on your list, your next challenge might be to finish reading a whole book in Spanish.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the feeling when you turn the final page and realize you’ve actually done it—you’ve read a whole book in another language!
- The Benefits of Reading in Spanish
- How to Pick the Perfect Spanish Book
- Spanish Short Stories
- Spanish Novels
- Spanish Bilingual Texts
- Spanish Children’s Books
- Spanish Graphic Novels
The Benefits of Reading in Spanish
Reading in Spanish won’t only make you feel more confident about your language skills, but it’ll also improve them. It’ll expand your vocabulary and also help internalize the language you already know.
There’s also something special about seeing a language written down, as opposed to just hearing it. Seeing the words written on the page will hopefully aid your memory of the word and help you recall it later.
Another benefit is that you’ll have lots of time to read sentences over and over again until you get the meaning, something that’s not so easy when you’re trying to eavesdrop on the bus.
There’s also less anxiety involved in reading than when you’re trying to get your message across verbally. In fact, reading is probably the most stress-free activity you can do to learn a language. When you read, you can sit back, relax and just take it all in at your own pace.
Reading in another language is also a great way to discover new stories that you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to read. Not all books written in Spanish are translated into English, so your Spanish skills may be able to help you discover a world you wouldn’t have known existed otherwise.
If the thought running through your head is, “But I’m not advanced enough!” think again. Just like when you learned to read in your own language, you can start with basic books and work your way up to something more complicated.
You can also use more structured interactive reading to build up your skills until you’re ready to tackle books.
How to Pick the Perfect Spanish Book
Reading basic Spanish books will go even smoother if you pick a book that’s well-suited to your specific interests and level. Your perfect Spanish book should be:
- An achievable length. Don’t aim for “Don Quijote” on your first try. Think about the book length you’d usually read in English, and then halve it, at least.
- Level-appropriate. It can be difficult to know which book is the right level for you, which is why graded readers that are made especially for Spanish learners can be useful. Ideally, you should understand roughly 70% of the words on the page. If you’re not sure, try reading the first page before you buy the book. If you can grasp the idea, more or less, that’s a good start! If you want to just get used to reading in Spanish, it might be a good idea to choose a book that you find fairly simple to help ease you into the reading habit.
- A story that interests you. The same goes for reading in any language. If you’re not into the story or subject, you’re unlikely to see the book through to the end. This is perhaps even more important for reading in Spanish. Try to find a story that you like, or you’ll end up frustrated and bored.
Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of my top 21 easy-to-read books to get you started.
Spanish Short Stories
1. “El libro de Gloria Fuertes para niñas y niños: versos, cuentos y vida” by Gloria Fuertes
This collection of children’s literature by poet Gloria Fuertes is a treasure.
“El libro de Gloria Fuertes para niñas y niños: versos, cuentos y vida” (The Book by Gloria Fuertes for Girls and Boys: Poems, Tales and Life) features over 100 poems and stories, many of which are beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Marta Altés, and is the ideal resource for beginner Spanish readers.
The stories are entertaining and the poetry is simple yet often profound. The book features dragons, bears, little chicks, turtles, kangaroos and many other adorable characters.
Not only will the stories captivate you, but they’ll also help you advance on your Spanish learning journey.
While this book is geared toward the six- to eight-year-old age bracket, adults will also find great pleasure in it!
2. “Cuentos de la selva” by Horacio Quiroga
A book of short stories for children, “Cuentos de la selva” (Jungle Tales) was written in 1918 by Uruguayan author Horacio Quiroga.
Quiroga spent many years living in the jungle of Misiones, Argentina, and used his experiences to bring the jungle to life in these short stories.
This is a world where crocodiles put on banana necklaces and smoke Paraguayan cigarettes, where parrots invite tigers around for tea and where one lazy bee drinks all the honey to avoid having to work.
These short and sweet stories are easy to read, and you’ll definitely have improved your animal vocabulary by the time you’ve finished.
3. “Spanish Short Stories” by Sergio Rodriguez
If you’re seeking variety in literature, here’s a collection of 20 original short stories that span across the genres.
From romance to science fiction, you’ll observe Spanish in different contexts.
Although Spanish does vary from region to region, Sergio Rodriguez offers just enough information through his tales for readers to have a better grasp of the language in general.
It’s highly recommended that you have a notebook ready once you finish a story since each is followed by a little questionnaire to see how much you absorbed from the text.
The questions are in English, but some of them require a response in Spanish. One exercise, in particular, asks readers to rewrite the ending of a story in Spanish and then in English.
In addition to the exercises, the author includes vocabulary, grammar and cultural notes to give you a well-rounded understanding of each short story.
Each chapter also ends with the English translation, which is a nice reference to have. It’s also strategically placed after the questionnaire so you can get as much as you can out of the Spanish text instead of relying on the translation.
4. “Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas” by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada
An homage to family and heritage, “Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas” (Tales Told by Our Grandmothers) is a sneak peek into the rich Latin American cultures diversified by their African, Arabic, European, Hebrew and indigenous roots.
From a shrewd vixen to cheerful bagpipes, these 12 stories have been passed down from generation to generation, withstanding the test of time and changing landscapes, and finally immortalized in this heartwarming anthology.
Given that these stories are distinctly Latin, this book is extremely helpful for those who want to focus on Spanish of the Americas, although it’s a still wonderful and accessible read for advanced beginners in European Spanish.
5. “La misión de Rox” by Laura Gallego
“La misión de Rox” (Rox’s Mission, known in English as “All the Fairies in the Kingdom”) is an easy-to-read young adult book.
While it’s the third installment in a series, it’s a delightful tale that can easily stand alone from the other two books. You don’t need to read the others to love this one, unless of course, you want to!
This is a brilliant tale about magic, a quest and the need to defend civilization.
There are monsters, battles, secrets and tests of endurance. The book is easy to read although absolute beginners will likely benefit from a translation app or a good Spanish dictionary on hand.
6. “Detective Malasuerte” by Hilario Pena
Hilario Pena’s “Detective Malasuerte” (Detective Bad Luck) is an exciting read. It’s well-suited for beginner readers since the vocabulary is relatively uncomplicated.
However, this book also provides just a touch of a challenge to help you keep moving forward and growing as a language learner.
There are cultural references, slang and some intermediate-level passages, too.
A good translation app or Spanish dictionary will help get you over any vocabulary hurdles. Rely on the dictionary to look up what you don’t know. Remember, we use dictionaries to learn new words in our native languages, too!
The story includes a private investigator, Detective Malasuerte, who finds himself involved in a case that’s filled with supernatural occurrences. The unsavory characters he meets are both intriguing and revolting!
This is a page-turner that every level Spanish learner will likely find attention-holding, especially those who like the detective genre.
This book will offer you an excellent opportunity to take note of some vocabulary that’s a bit more difficult, while also helping you gain confidence in all the vocabulary that you actually already know!
7. “El principito” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Although this book was originally written in French, its simple story and sweet pictures mean that it’s a delight to read in any language.
Some people claim that the alien landscapes described in the book refer to Patagonia in Argentina, as Saint-Exupéry flew over the region many times during his time as a pilot.
A good book for practicing simple dialogue and the past tense, “El principito” (The Little Prince) is a slim volume and is a manageable length for intermediate students and above.
Even if you’ve already read “The Little Prince” in English (or another language), you’ll find it useful to read it again in Spanish since you’ll be able to just concentrate on the language and enjoy the familiar story.
8. “El alquimista” by Paulo Coelho
Originally written in Portuguese, the Spanish translation of this international bestseller is a good one if you want to read a whole novel in the language.
The story of “El alquimista” (The Alchemist) concerns a young Spanish shepherd who goes on a quest after having a recurring dream.
Lessons learned by the shepherd throughout the book can be applied to a variety of life decisions, and because of this, the book is often referred to as more “self-help than literature.”
Apart from its spiritual message, this book’s main language benefit is that both the vocabulary and grammar are simple and easy to understand.
9. “El túnel” by Ernesto Sábato
This psychological thriller was written in 1948 by Argentine writer Ernesto Sábato.
It was highly acclaimed internationally when it came out, and is a popular text for teenagers in Argentina today. It has also been adapted for the stage and the big screen.
The plot of “El túnel” (The Tunnel) concerns Juan Pablo Castel, a painter from Buenos Aires who has killed the woman he loved, María Iribarne. Castel examines his motives and much of the book deals with existentialism. It’s also heavily laced with the author’s characteristic acid pessimism.
This book deals with some tricky subject matters, but is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to challenge themselves to read a book in another language that’ll truly make you think.
Spanish Bilingual Texts
10. “First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book” by Angel Flores
“First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book” is an excellent introduction to the wonderful world of reading Spanish stories. The tales are presented with the Spanish story on one page and the English translation on the opposite-facing page.
Many of the stories also include authentic Spanish idioms, which will only help deepen your understanding and connection to the language.
The vocabulary used in this volume is uncomplicated, but that doesn’t mean that the stories are overly simple or meaningless. These tales are thought-provoking!
Graded readers are an excellent option for beginner readers. They typically contain simple stories, use basic vocabulary and often add extras to help learners power up their skills.
This book is no exception: there’s a bonus section that highlights vocabulary and offers practice exercises for Spanish learners.
Another plus of graded readers like this one is the fact that the stories are a manageable size. They’re great little bites of literature designed for language learning.
11. “11 Bilingual Fairy Tales in Spanish and English” by Frédéric Bibard
Revisit your childhood by reading all of your favorite fairytales in Spanish!
As the title indicates, this book is a collection of folklore that we grew up with, such as Ricitos de oro y los tres osos (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), Jack y las habichuelas mágicas (Jack and the Beanstalk) and Caperucita Roja (Little Red Riding Hood).
One thing to keep in mind with this book is the seemingly archaic language.
Because the stories are the original texts, some of the Spanish translations might look outdated, though this was done on purpose to preserve the style of the original authors. Bibard shares his tips on how to make the most out of the translated fairy tales.
In addition to this ebook, you’ll also get the audio files of each story (270 minutes in total), narrated by both native Spanish and English speakers.
The audio accompaniment is perfect for listening anywhere at any time and allows you to listen for proper pronunciation and natural speech flow.
12. “Short and Easy Spanish Novels for Beginners” by Joe Arenas
Looking for a bit of suspense in your Spanish language books?
The horror genre isn’t something that a lot of beginners dive into, but this author makes it accessible even for those who have just started on their language journey.
This book contains two stories, Espectro (Spectrum) and La Casa (The House), both filled with simple grammar constructions and relevant vocabulary.
The stories are short and sweet, with each sentence no more than 12 words long and each chapter only containing 10 sentences, which means there’s plenty of space on each page if you want to take any notes.
The stories conclude with a little quiz as a reading comprehension exercise. It’s a multiple-choice quiz, so nothing scary to make you dread reaching the end of each story.
13. “Short Stories in Spanish” by John R. King
Suitable for all levels of learners, “Short Stories in Spanish” is a compilation of ten contemporary stories by the most celebrated Hispanic writers, including Gabriel García Márquez and Laura Freixas.
Compared to the rest of the books in this category, the content might seem slightly more advanced given that each story is more or less ten full pages.
But no need to worry since the short stories come with annotations, so you’ll have all the information you need to read them without reaching for a dictionary.
This is also a nice alternative for beginners and intermediates that want to go beyond children’s literature and explore authentic but shorter Spanish texts that are way more approachable compared to the featured writers’ novels.
Spanish Children’s Books
14. “La liebre y la tortuga” by Tina Valles
“La liebre y la tortuga” is the Spanish retelling of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which is a beloved and well-known classic children’s book.
This story has a target audience of three- to five-year-olds but will bring as much joy to an older reader as it would to any young listener!
This is an excellent way to build up your core vocabulary. This fun, yet meaningful, story is told using basic words and phrases.
Additionally, the short sentences offer beginner learners a chance to practice reading Spanish aloud without being faced with long, complex sentences.
A bonus? The book features interactive scrapbooking activities. Any hands-on activities in Spanish are definitely beneficial for learners!
15. “Papelucho” by Marcela Paz
Written by Chilean author Marcela Paz, “Papelucho” is a series of 12 books written between the 1940s and 1970s about an eight-year-old middle-class boy named Papelucho.
The stories, written in diary form, detail Papelucho’s everyday life in Santiago, Chile and are based on the author’s own childhood experiences.
Books include “Papelucho historiador” (Papelucho the Historian), “Papelucho y el marciano” (Papelucho and the Martian) and “Papelucho ¿Soy dix-leso?” (Papelucho, Am I Dyslexic?).
These stories were unusual at the time they were written because unlike other popular children’s stories, they weren’t moralistic. These books also have lovely illustrations that help explain the story.
As the stories are written from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, the prose is simple and easy to understand. They’re also fairly short stories, so the books are definitely manageable reads. The stories also deal with everyday life, so they’re packed full of useful vocabulary.
If you really can’t get enough of Papelucho, you can also watch the “Papelucho” animated film “Papelucho y el marciano” which was released in 2007.
16. “Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre” by Juana Martinez-Neal
Written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, “Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre” (Alma and How She Got Her Name) is about a young girl learning about her heritage through her name.
And with a name like Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela, there’s a lot of history that needs to be uncovered.
It’s a beautiful story about family and self-discovery. And given that it’s a children’s book, the story is very accessible to beginners.
And what’s also wonderful about this book is the little author’s note at the end, where she shares the history of her own name and encourages you to share yours. It’s the perfect opportunity for a little writing practice using some of the family vocabulary and simple grammar structures from the story.
17. “La luz de Lucía” by Margarita Del Mazo
This award-winning children’s tale is another great one for Spanish beginners.
“La luz de Lucía” (Lucía’s Light) is a story of a little firefly that’s struggling to light up like the rest of her family. The night comes when it’s finally her time to shine, but something gets in her way.
Suited for kids between the ages of four to six, it’s a gorgeous picturebook full of forest vocabulary and animal terms that you don’t really come across as a novice. Luciérnaga (firefly) doesn’t appear too often in beginner Spanish curriculums, so you’d be surprised with what else you pick up from this children’s book.
As for any unnamed creatures in the illustrations, feel free to look them up in a dictionary to expand your animal vocabulary!
Spanish Graphic Novels
18. “Gael y la red de mentiras: una novela gráfica” by Ernesto Rodríguez
“Gael y la red de mentiras: una novela gráfica” (Gael and the Network of Lies: A Graphic Novel) is one of three books in a wonderful graded reader series.
The other two books are called “Gael y las sombras de la huida” (Gael and the Shadows of Flight) and “Gael y el arte de la traición” (Gael and the Art of Treason).
This series uses a comic book format and the illustrations are fabulous. Each book also offers reading comprehension exercises for learners to assess their reading skills.
The series targets beginner-level learners, but anyone who enjoys comic books will love reading about Gael and his amigos (friends).
Gael is an unlikely hero. He’s a cat burglar whose adventures take him to Madrid, Mallorca and other intriguing spots.
He lives a thrilling life, one which Spanish learners will be swept into with far less trouble than it takes our intrepid hero to plot a theft!
I highly recommend this series, both for its language learning strengths, as well as for the stories themselves!
19. “Enola Holmes y el sorprendente caso de Lady Alistair” by Nancy Springer
“Enola Holmes y el sorprendente caso de Lady Alistair” (Enola Holmes and the Surprising Case of Lady Alistair) is one of a series of graphic novels that feature the wildly imaginative Enola, who just so happens to be Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister!
The illustrations are gorgeous!
They’re so detailed that even if you’re struggling a bit, there’s a high probability that just by looking at the drawings that accompany the text any confusion will be quickly cleared up.
The Spanish text is engaging, while remaining, in classic graphic novel style, short and to the point.
This volume includes Enola dressed in disguise and on the search for a missing teenager. She manages to keep one step ahead of her more well-known brother throughout the entire story.
This book is such an interesting read from start to finish—and engaging resources are a Spanish language learner’s best friend!
20. “Vivos se los llevaron” by Andalusia Knoll Soloff
“Vivos se los llevaron” (Taken Alive) is an account of a factual event.
The graphic novel format of this story makes it accessible to beginner readers, as well as more advanced learners. The passages are clear and concise and the delivery is sequential—each event is told in a logical timeline.
This fascinating factual account involves the Mexican police and 43 student teachers who disappeared from a college without a trace.
The novel relies on interviews and official documents to tell the tale.
The story includes dangerous issues that affect Mexico and many other countries, such as drugs, corrupt politicians and everyday citizens who get caught in the crossfire of these issues.
This is a true-life story that you’ll never forget. While reading, make sure you also take note of the colorful cultural references and any unfamiliar slang!
21.“Una arruga en el tiempo” Adapted by Hope Larson
You’ve read the original book, you’ve watched the film, and it’s high time you revisited the science fiction tale in a different format—this time in a Spanish graphic novel!
“Una arruga en el tiempo” (A Wrinkle in Time) is a treasured childhood classic and perfect for beginners.
And even if you haven’t read the original text or seen the movie, the vivid illustrations clearly depict the Spanish translations, so you always have an idea of what’s actually going on in each panel.
But if the plot is, or certain words are, still unclear to you, try browsing each chapter before reading and writing down any words that you’re unsure of.
Look up and write down each of their definitions and have that list handy as you read through the chapter.
Don’t forget to record any new vocabulary you learn as you go along, and not to give up if there are words or even sections of any of these books you don’t understand.
Manually writing these lists can work well if you’re a tactile learner, but there are also tons of digital options to choose from if you want to learn on the go. For example, the online learning program FluentU has a built-in multimedia flashcard system to study vocabulary with context clues from its library of videos.
You don’t know every word in your own language, so of course you won’t understand all the Spanish words right away either!
Most importantly, try to find a nice space to sit back and enjoy your book. Whether it’s a comfy sofa, hammock or just lying in bed, enjoy the experience and savor that feeling of satisfaction once you’re done.