Have you ever been so excited by a book that you’ve felt blown right off your feet—or at least right out of your socks?
You know what else can be toe-curling reading fun? El diccionario (the dictionary)!
Spanish dictionaries for kids educate in an entertaining way. They can teach vocabulary and phrases almost effortlessly.
But don’t let the kids hog these learning powerhouses all to themselves: Adults can benefit from adding children’s dictionaries to any Spanish language program.
- How to Maximize Dictionary Time and Usage
- 7 Spanish Dictionaries for Kids That’ll Blow Your Socks Off!
How to Maximize Dictionary Time and Usage
There are ways to encourage dictionary time, whether you’re dealing with young learners or older language lovers.
- Choose an engaging dictionary. Bright pictures and a large text size make book time more inviting. I mean, we all appreciate engaging artwork, don’t we?
- Make sure the dictionary is age-appropriate. Don’t choose one that’s advanced if you’re dealing with someone at the beginner level. And for very young learners, a picture dictionary is a good choice!
- Devote some time to scanning the dictionary. Make it part of the daily routine, even. Don’t wait until there’s a need to look up a word or phrase. Skimming through a dictionary at random is a super way to create new, interesting vocabulary lists.
- Play a word-search game. Jot down a short list of words and challenge your young learner (or yourself) to find them in the dictionary. Award points for each word found—and extra points if the learner can get the definition right before even checking the dictionary!
- Gradually increase dictionary level as Spanish language level increases. If the learner outgrows a picture dictionary, level up to one with less images and more translations.
It’s important to remember, though, that dictionaries are excellent supplementary resources. Learning vocabulary words in isolation might give you a broad word bank to choose from, but it won’t give you the context you need in order to actually use these words.
7 Spanish Dictionaries for Kids That’ll Blow Your Socks Off!
“Spanish-English Picture Dictionary”
This picture dictionary is an ideal way to bring vocabulary, pronunciation and even concepts to young learners.
There are 350 kid-friendly illustrations in the book. The format groups pictures according to basic themes that include sports, fruits, classrooms, weather and more. These thematic groupings lend themselves to discussions on concepts surrounding the topics—perfect for focusing a study session.
Nine pictures are included on each page and every picture is identified in both Spanish and English. Additionally, each word includes a phonetic spelling for pronunciation purposes.
This book is a great introduction to the mechanics of using a dictionary. It’s easy to locate words by the corresponding pictures, so even very young learners and absolute beginners will find this beneficial.
“Spanish-English Picture Dictionary”
This is a unique dictionary: Instead of isolated (one image per word) pictures, this book uses engaging drawings of scenes to help identify and teach vocabulary.
Words appear on every page in both languages and are shown in context so it’s easy to see a word’s meaning at a glance. There’s no need for learners to wonder where things go or what they do when it’s clearly—and beautifully—illustrated!
“McGraw-Hill’s Spanish Picture Dictionary”
This dictionary is intended for four- to nine-year-old learners and its format is one that’ll appeal to that exact age group.
It’s a combination of drawings, illustrated scenes and photographs—with some scenes covering two pages for added visual impact.
The dictionary follows the curricula of primary school Spanish language programs.
It goes further than just defining words: It introduces phrases that are useful for beginning conversations. Weather, introductions and more are covered in the 1400+ words and phrases in this book!
“Spanish Picture Dictionary – Basic”
This basic Spanish picture dictionary is in the form of a digital download so it’s available for immediate access.
The pages are printable so the download can be turned into a hard copy—and the pictures are so sweet they’re bound to engage learners of any age!
This dictionary is widely used in classroom settings. Each letter of the alphabet has 10 words that begin with the letter so it’s certainly not a comprehensive resource, but it’ll create a foundation of vocabulary for kids and beginners to build on.
“First Spanish Dictionary”
This dictionary hits every mark on the cute, informative and helpful scales. It’s just a fabulous resource for kids—and adults will love it, too!
The photographs are kid-friendly and the families featured in the book are diverse and portray all age groups. The included subject areas cover themes important to children—like terms related to sports, school, friends and pets.
In addition to providing translations, the dictionary breaks words down phonetically to facilitate pronunciation practice. Also, the end of the book features English A-Z and Spanish A-Z listings which make vocabulary-building a breeze.
This dictionary is perfect for early learners!
“Animals / Animales”
This delightful picture book is technically not a full-on dictionary but it does a good job of identifying animals for early learners.
It’s perfect if a child likes animals (and most kids do!) and the goal is to teach the Spanish words for various living creatures.
Additionally, if your young learner is struggling to find the name for an animal during language lessons or in casual conversation, this is a super way to encourage beginners to use a resource to supplement vocabulary.
A bonus? The pictures are absolutely beautiful!
“Spanish English Bilingual Dictionary”
This volume has a free companion audio app so learners are able to scan the pages and hear the words spoken. This audio feature is great for perfecting pronunciation!
I actually have this dictionary and use with my nieces and nephews. It’s perfectly useful for all generations so I never feel that I’m wasting my time when I’m helping them with their language studies.
There are always vocabulary words to learn, regardless of level or age!
But even without my help, this is easy for children to use. The photos help identify objects so finding a translation is a snap for young learners.
This is a great a “bridge” dictionary: it falls somewhere between a picture dictionary intended for very young or early learners and a typical words-only dictionary that’s suitable for more advanced learners. It’s the dictionary that can take learners from one stage to the next.
“It’s the books you read when you’re young that stay with you always.” —JK Rowling
All Spanish reading adds to language acquisition—including dictionary reading.
And JK Rowling is right: we do remember the books we read and loved as kids, don’t we?
These Spanish dictionaries for kids are pure fun.
Try a few and see what happens. I’m pretty sure both you and your young learner will have a blast.
Don’t forget to try out your newfound vocabulary! Learning vocabulary in isolation might get you a good core vocabulary but it’s important to learn how to actually use them.
Whether you start conversing with a native Spanish speaker, watch a Spanish-language movie, or try a virtual immersion platform like FluentU, understanding how a word is used by native speakers will help you progress significantly.
In the case of FluentU, you also get a built-in dictionary with images and audio just like a children’s dictionary. FluentU’s dictionary is also contextual (which means you’ll see the meaning of the word as it’s used in each video) and shows you other videos where you can hear the word in use.
A digital companion to the kids’ dictionaries listed in this post is a nice break from lugging a thick paper version around.
Try a few dictionaries and see what happens! I’m pretty sure both you and your young learner will have a blast.
But you should be prepared to pick up a few socks! That’s right—your young reader may have so much fun his or her calcetines (socks) may go flying!