Books for young adults (often called YA) are booming.
They have action.
They have romance.
They have a surprising number of supernatural creatures.
Even adults love books that were intended for teenagers. And no wonder why. They often feature fantastical, immersive worlds that transport you to faraway lands. Plus, adults cannot resist the nostalgic appeal of reliving their teenage years.
But whether you are an adult or a teenager, these books for teens can do so much more than provide you with the escapism you need to forget about your problems—they can also help you practice your Spanish skills!
Why Read Spanish-language Books for Teens
Spanish-language books for teens are entertaining. Books for teens are often more action-packed than other books. You will want to read them compulsively, like Spanish-language comic books. This will encourage you to keep reading, which will help you get more Spanish reading practice while enjoying yourself.
Additionally, Spanish-language books for teens offer valuable life lessons that make the material more relatable. As with many classic Spanish books, the lessons tend to be universal.
For instance, the “Harry Potter” series (like many other books intended for teens) teaches about the value of friendship and bravery. These types of YA lessons tend to be a bit simpler than topics covered in more advanced books, so they are easy to connect to on a very basic, personal level.
This will help you get much more invested in the stories, which will make you eager to read (and consequently learn) more.
Finally, Spanish-language books for teens are more approachable than adult books. They are often shorter and frequently use less advanced vocabulary. Spanish-language books for teens are usually a little more advanced than easy-to-read Spanish books, but like intermediate Spanish-language novels, they are not daunting.
Still, they will propel your Spanish skills forward so you can crack more advanced books.
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10 Incredible Spanish-language Books for Teens (and Teens at Heart)
1. “Cajas de carton: Relatos de la vida peregrina de un niño campesino” by Francisco Jiménez
“Cajas de carton: Relatos de la vida peregrina de un niño campesino” (it translates to “Boxes of Cardboard: Stories of the Pilgrim Life of a Peasant Child,” but the English title is “The Circuit”) is the autobiographical tale of the author’s journey with his family to work in California fields as a migrant worker.
Along the way, the family faces poverty, back-breaking work and seemingly insurmountable challenges. The story is told from the perspective of a young boy.
The book is organized as a series of stories, so language learners can easily break it down into smaller chunks for digestible reading. The book is aimed at grades four through eight or five through seven depending on the source, which makes it ideal for intermediate Spanish learners or intrepid beginners.
2. “Copo de Algodón” by María García Esperón and Marcos Almada Rivero
“Copo de Algodón” (“Cup of Cotton”) is a short historical fiction novel for young readers.
Set in the Aztec Empire, the story follows Copo de Algodón, the daughter of royalty. Through her eyes, the novel presents major events such as the arrival of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and the death of Moctezuma.
This novel will help intermediate and advanced readers learn historical vocabulary. It also provides an interesting glimpse into Mexican history.
3. “La Ciudad de las Bestias” by Isabel Allende
“La Ciudad de las Bestias” (which translates to “The City of the Beasts” but goes by the English title “City of the Beasts”) is the first novel in a trilogy. It is difficult to define the genre briefly, but it can perhaps best be described as a coming-of-age, magical realist adventure novel with political commentary.
“La Ciudad de las Bestias” follows a 15-year-old who goes on an expedition with his grandmother to hunt for a famed “beast” in South America. However, along the way, he faces many challenges such as a jaguar encounter and a kidnapping.
It is appropriate for grades seven through twelve. Though it is fast paced, it is also long and relatively complex, so it is best for intermediate to advanced Spanish students.
4. “Bajo la misma estrella” by John Green
“Bajo la misma estrella” (“Under the same star”) is the Spanish-language version of the John Green YA classic “The Fault in Our Stars.”
In short, it follows a teen dying from cancer who falls in love with another teen with cancer. It is both funny and sad.
Reading the Spanish version of a book you are already familiar with can make the book feel less daunting and easier to follow. So it is often helpful to find translations of English-language bestsellers such as “The Fault in Our Stars” (or “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter,” discussed below) as a stepping stone to reading works you are less familiar with.
“Bajo la misma estrella” is intended for grades seven and up. The reading level is appropriate for intermediate and advanced Spanish students, though beginning students who are familiar with the original English-language novel or movie may also be able to follow it.
5. “Los Juegos del Hambre” by Suzanne Collins
“Los Juegos del Hambre” (“The Hunger Games”) is the first book in the trilogy of the same name.
This modern dystopian classic follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen as she participates in a televised fight to the death.
The novel is appropriate for grades eight and up, so it is best for intermediate to advanced Spanish students. However, beginners who are particularly familiar with the story may also be able to follow it in Spanish.
6. “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal” by J. K. Rowling
“Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal” (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which is also called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S.) is the first novel in the Harry Potter series.
This novel follows famed boy wizard Harry Potter as he begins his studies at a wizarding school.
This well-known series is likely familiar even to those who have not read it. Additionally, it uses a fair amount of magic-related vocabulary that is specific to the series. Therefore, while some of the language may be too advanced for beginning Spanish students, it is a good option for anyone looking to test the waters of reading teen books in Spanish.
7. “Los ojos de Carmen” by Veronica Moscoso
“Los ojos de Carmen” (“The Eyes of Carmen”) is a novella intended for intermediate-level teenage Spanish students.
It follows a teenager who travels to Ecuador and wants to participate in a photography contest.
Because it is intended for Spanish learners, it offers fairly simple language and has an easy-to-follow plot. This makes the book ideal for anyone intimidated by longer novels. While it is intended for third-year high school students, the simple language is also approachable for beginning students.
8. “Marina” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“Marina” is a Gothic mystery set in Barcelona in 1980.
A fifteen-year-old boarding school student goes to a seemingly deserted part of the city. He ultimately meets Marina, who shares his love of mysteries. Together, they go to a graveyard and witness a woman laying a rose on an unmarked grave. Trying to trace her leads them to an eerie greenhouse and eventually a number of creepy and eccentric characters.
“Marina” is intended for grades eight and up, making it an ideal choice for intermediate and advanced Spanish students looking to dive into an intense teen novel.
9. “Hacia el fin del mundo: Trilogía del Malamor #1” by José Ignacio Valenzuela
“Hacia el fin del mundo: Trilogía del Malamor #1” (“Towards the end of the world: Trilogy of Malamor #1”) is the first book in Valenzuela’s “Malamor” series.
When a university student’s best friend goes missing, she must find her friend and uncover whether the legend of “Malamor,” a town whose residents are cursed to be forever loveless, is true.
“Hacia el fin del mundo: Trilogía del Malamor #1” is great for intermediate and advanced Spanish learners.
10. “…y no se lo tragó la tierra” by Tomás Rivera
“…y no se lo tragó la tierra” (“…and the earth did not swallow him”) is a 1971 novel told as a series of short stories and vignettes. This makes it easy to break down into smaller, digestible chunks.
Set in Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, the stories focus on Mexican-American migrant farm workers. The novel details the harsh conditions faced by various young protagonists.
The book is listed as appropriate for grades seven and up. While it covers some fairly heavy material, the use of short stories and vignettes make this book approachable for beginning through advanced students.
There are a lot of great Spanish-language books for teens on the market. No need to sneak off to a faraway land to discover your new favorite!
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