“A short story is a different thing altogether—a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”—Stephen King
Bestselling author Stephen King has it right: Novels and poems might have their own values but short stories are like tantalizing brief encounters with the unknown.
Their length makes them pack a punch and leave an impact… and it makes them perfect for language learning.
Even if you can’t get into a full novel, you can start off with some easy Spanish short stories!
Short stories are a language learner’s dream. They feature all the entertainment of a longer work in a smaller package, with the added bonus of Spanish language learning.
Make Spanish short stories part of your language program and reap the benefits of this tiny treat option.
I hear the wheels turning inside your head. You’re wondering just how to do that, aren’t you? Well, we’re going to discuss the how-tos in a minute.
You’re probably also wondering just what short stories you should read. Well, we’ve got that covered, too, with some excellent suggestions!
How Easy Spanish Short Stories Are Designed for Fast Learning
Short stories are typically wonderfully intense due to their word count constraints. The action is condensed and there are no “extra” fillers. Unnecessary or time-consuming material just doesn’t show up in the short story format.
Expect the author to go straight to the story.
Many of the short stories we list below were originally written in Spanish and give readers a glimpse into the culture of various Spanish-speaking locations.
Another interesting aspect of this form of writing is that there’s generally a repetition of key, core vocabulary. Short stories mimic “everyday” communication—so think of conversational chat, gossip or the telling of local events. All of those communication options don’t normally use complicated words or phrases. They keep things simple—and simple is perfect for language learners!
There are a couple of ways Spanish learners can maximize success—and enjoyment!—using short stories as part of a language program.
- Pick from a genre of personal interest. If you dislike romances, don’t choose a romantic short story. You’ll be bored and won’t get the most from reading practice. Like thrillers? Go for a few of those. Have a flair for the dramatic? There are great dramatic options available.
Choose what you like best!
- Dedicate daily time to reading Spanish short stories. Consistency is key to almost every endeavor, including language learning. As they say, practice makes perfect!
- Try not to stop too often for vocabulary. Instead, use context clues to figure out the meaning or the gist of it. If you really can’t decipher something, go for the dictionary—and be sure to add the word or phrase to your vocabulary list.
Easy Spanish short stories are a super way to practice reading for comprehension! We have some excellent picks for you in the following section.
9 Easy Spanish Short Story Collections for Learners
The short stories below are excellent entry points into real Spanish novels. In the same way, FluentU is your visual entry point into authentic Spanish movies and shows.
In this list, you’ll find Spanish short stories for beginners, many of which are fables from various cultures and some of which are free.
We’ve organized the stories by difficulty, starting with the most approachable for absolute beginners and ending on an option good for beginners who are on the verge of being intermediate learners and are looking for a challenge.
Snappy Spanish: Beginner Short Stories
On this website, you’ll find three very basic short stories with English translations. If you’re an absolute beginner to Spanish, this is an ideal spot to start short story reading practice!
The stories are entertaining and each features uncomplicated vocabulary, an audio reading and side-by-side Spanish and English versions.
They’re offered for free, so the only investment in reading these is a bit of time and the potential benefit—increased Spanish reading skills!
This is a straightforward and enjoyable resource to get comfortable and confident reading super basic stories.
- If you notice that you’re reading these stories without a hint of uncertainty, level up! Go on to more complex short stories knowing that you’ve got this foundational material under your belt.
- Keep an eye on the site to find more beginner stories from Snappy Spanish on their app, coming soon.
“Spanish Short Stories for Beginners” by Learning Languages Academy
These 50 Spanish short stories are specially designed to teach Latin American Spanish. They cover grammar and vocabulary in a fun way, and include learning tips to simplify the reading practice.
Side-by-side Spanish and English translations, as well as a list of key words (bolded in the text), make it nearly impossible to misunderstand the content. Each short story is paired with a grammar point and reading comprehension questions.
These stories are great for absolute beginners. They’re so brief that they don’t require a huge time investment—so if you’re short on time, these are for you!
- Use this learning resource as it’s designed to be used—rather than hoping for stellar storytelling, expect a more entertaining method of learning… that’s still textbook learning at its core.
- The grammar used here isn’t explained, so it might be a good idea to use this as a workbook to supplement a good Spanish grammar book.
- Take the quizzes at the end of each story to help you track your progress.
“Spanish Short Stories for Beginners” by Lingo Mastery
Like the previous entry in our list, these 20 stories in Spanish each focus on an important grammar concept or an essential conversational skill. However, this book takes things up a notch by presenting stories that are longer and, well, more “story-like” and less like textbook example passages.
The stories are also examined at more depth in this resource. There are no English translations. Instead, following each story is a summary in Spanish and English. Then, there’s a lengthy list of core vocabulary, phrases and other key words along with their translations.
Finally, there are questions (in Spanish) to test your comprehension of the tale.
- Read the summaries at the end of the stories. Since there are no direct translations and the summaries are presented in English as well as Spanish, this is a good way to make sure you understood what you read.
- If anything’s unclear after you’ve read the summary and looked over the list of vocabulary, read the story again, this time with a dictionary at hand.
“Los ratones y el gato” (The Mice and the Cat) and Other Tales by Aesop
This beloved Aesop’s fable is very simple, making it a perfect super short story that’s sure to bring smiles—whatever language it’s told in!
This tale about mice who plan to place a bell around a cat’s neck so they can hear him coming is suitable for even beginning learners thanks to the very basic core vocabulary used.
You can hear this book narrated to a backdrop of Mozart with a wonderful mp3 file embedded in the page.
And this is all completely free!
If you finish this short story and enjoy it, Alba Learning has more of Aesop’s fables for you to peruse, some of which have a companion audio file and many of which come with comprehension exercises.
- There are no translations here! You’ll have to guide your own learning by jotting down any unfamiliar words or phrases.
- Try reading this one out loud. It’s straightforward and uncomplicated, which makes it an excellent choice for some speaking practice. Better yet, hit “Play” on the audio component and give shadowing a try.
“Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas” (Tales Our Grandmas Told) by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
This children’s book contains 12 classic Spanish folktales. I have to admit: I own this book and I absolutely love it. I’ve even gifted it to several children so they might enjoy these folktales, too!
The tales are mostly fables, with animals like foxes and birds at the helm. As with most folk tales, each story has a moral to learn!
The stories of the abuelitas (grandmothers) are told entirely in Spanish and there aren’t any English translations. Since they’re meant for kids, though, they’re very approachable for beginners.
Even though these Spanish short stories are approachable, you might find yourself looking up some unknown vocabulary. Hey, that’s how we learn, right? You might also see some more complex grammatical constructs here than in the previous options, so keep an eye out for them.
- Read for clarity first, not understanding. In other words, don’t get bogged down by the different verb tenses and each individual word. Instead, try to understand the gist of the story.
- Keep a dictionary or translation app handy for subsequent readthroughs. Look up unfamiliar words and phrases and use them to increase your Spanish vocabulary.
“Peruvian Fables” by Juan Miguel Ataucuri García
These fables are genuine Peruvian stories told in Spanish, without English translations. They provide cultural glimpses into Peruvian life that only material written by native Peruvian authors can authentically portray.
Written for children, these fables portray Peruvian beliefs and values with the intention of spreading awareness so that the culture is more widely recognized and understood.
Like the tales from abuelita, these fables also have morals—clearly written out at the end of each story—and use animals as main characters. The tales are also wonderfully short (most are only two pages long), so even if you find yourself struggling with some, their length makes it easier to break them down.
- Simply read for the richness of the storytelling. Fall into the plots and absorb the cultural significance of these tales.
- Following each story are a few discussion questions. Answer the questions in Spanish, either saying your responses out loud or writing them down.
“Sherlock Holmes: Easy Spanish Short Novels for Beginners” Adapted by Álvaro Parra Pinto
Author Álvaro Parra Pinto has put out this series of books for beginning Spanish readers that use well-known stories like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” tales to teach Spanish.
There are 10 volumes in all. Reading these stories in their original forms might be too difficult for beginning readers so the author has simplified them.
In this volume, everyone’s favorite genius detective is introduced by his companion in the translated and simplified version of “A Study in Scarlet.” Although the tome isn’t strictly composed of short stories, the novel has been split up into bite-sized short-story-like sections.
Some of the passages may be challenging, but fans of the series in English will be familiar with the story and so, may be able to infer meaning or decipher phrases.
There are quizzes at the end of each chapter, offering readers the chance to test their comprehension through fill-in-the-blank, true or false and multiple-choice exercises.
- Take advantage of the excellent vocabulary lists found at the ends of chapters. Considering the subject matter, they include less-widely used words and phrases. This is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary beyond the basics.
- Treat these chapters like individual short stories, spending time understanding each and completing the exercises.
“Cuentos: Stories from Puerto Rico” Compiled by Kal Wagenheim
This anthology provides lots of cultural insights into the history of the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and those who inhabit it. It compiles 12 short stories written by six of Puerto Rico’s best authors, and each story is absolutely delightful and completely entertaining.
The volume contains stories most easily read by intermediate learners since they’re written for adults, not children. However, side-by-side translations make these stories accessible to even beginning learners—so if you’re not at an intermediate or advanced level, don’t despair! Dive in anyway, and enjoy these super tales.
The stories range in topic, style and genre from tales that’ll make you laugh out loud to those that’ll make you want to shed a tear. Many are culturally relevant and touch on points in Puerto Rico’s history.
- Relax, read and have fun! Grab the cultural glimpses that bring the Spanish language alive. Read to “hear” the cadence of this language as the words flow through your mind.
- Don’t skip over the introduction. The book includes an insightful look into the history of Puerto Rico’s literature before the stories, which is worth a read to better appreciate the material in the book.
- The English translations aren’t literal, but rather try to capture the feel of the language. Take note of the differences in the words used, as well as some of the choices made by the translators to portray the stories in a more authentic way.
“Palma for Children and Young People” by Ricardo Palma
Ricardo Palma was a Peruvian author who wrote in the 19th century. This material is authentic and gives readers insights into Spanish culture that can only be gleaned from stories written in the language (rather than stories retold in it).
This isn’t a reading adventure for absolute beginner Spanish learners, though. It’s written in somewhat old-fashioned Spanish with no translations, and the level is more intermediate than basic.
It makes a perfect bridge from beginner to intermediate reading since it’s much more complex in style and vocabulary, but it’s still made up of smaller short stories for an approachable entry point into authentic Spanish literature.
Since it’s free, you have nothing to lose!
- Summarize each story after reading to help increase your comprehension. If that’s too much to handle, try taking it one page at a time, instead.
- The first pages consist of historical information about Palma and his works, which is worth reading for any history buff and for a deeper cultural insight. If you struggle to understand the language, look up a brief biography in English, then try the Spanish again since you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.
Reading is a necessary component of Spanish language learning. It’s essential but doesn’t have to be a chore!
Reading practice can be fast, fun and interesting. Using Spanish short stories to learn is a great method for increasing language skills with small reading bites. Savor the morsels of incredible literature, one glorious word at a time.
Who knows? You may become so enamored with short stories that you might feel as if you’ve been kissed in the dark by a stranger!
Have fun and good luck!
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