Ten books to read to your toddler

A lot has been said about the benefits of reading to your child, how it improves their vocabulary and literacy, makes them keen readers and also how it is a nice way to spend time together.

There are so many children’s books out there and as a parent it can be overwhelming to pick one up especially if you are buying one for your own child or as a gift.

Here are my 10 favourite children’s books so far.  I have to say that this list is totally based on my toddler’s preferences and excitement when reading each book, as well as the fact that they are the ones that I don’t mind reading over and over.  Even though all of these are English speaking books I usually translate them into Spanish as I read them aloud.

1. Where is the green sheep? – Mem Fox / Judy Horacek

Find the green sheep searching through beautifully illustrated pages whilst showing your little one about colours, places and opposites.  We love reading this story just before bedtime and my daughter loves pointing out at the different words she is learning.where is the green sheep

2. There is a hippopotamus on the roof eating cake – Hazel Edwards

I find this book so charming.  This story is told by a little girl who is telling us all about her friend, the hippopotamus, who is on her roof eating cake.  He also does a lot of many things like watching TV, riding his bike and going to work.  The copy we have at home was signed by Hazel Edwards herself!

hippopotamus on the roof

3. Bedtime for chickies – Janee Trasler

Any book that encourages a toddler to go to sleep has my seal of approval.  It is time for those chickies to go to bed, but not before they drink their water, go potty and read a story.  The illustrations are very cute and when I read aloud I also say that it is bedtime for my little one.  It is a short and sweet story that hopefully helps ease your little one into bedtime.

4. Ten little fingers ten little toes – Mem Fox / Helen Oxenbury

This is also a very cute book with lots of babies from different places.  It is a great way for your child to learn about their hands and feet.  It rhymes beautifully in English and easy to translate on the go into Spanish (without the rhyme of course).  My daughter’s favourite pages are the ones with the little hands and feet, as you can see it is a bit wrinkly as she just loves comparing her own hands with the ones in the book.

ten little fingers

5. Say please, Little bear – Peter Bently / Robert McPhillips

Little bear is a bit rough and he tends to forget his manners, but Daddy Bear comes up with a plan.  This book is a good size if your little one is a bit older as the story line is a bit more complicated.  If you can’t read all of the story at once do not worry about it, you can still point at all the cute animals and toys in the story.

say please little bear

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

Before even having kids I always wondered why did I see this book being sold everywhere?  But really, how can you go wrong when you have a beautiful story about a butterfly’s life cycle that combines, food, numbers and the days of the week?  No wonder it is a classic to have in every child’s bookshelf.

hungry caterpillar

7. Tickles – Leslie Patricelli

This is part of a book series about a baby’s life moments.  In this particular book, the cute baby is being chased by the Tickle monster!  It is relatable for toddlers and it is a great way for your little one to learn the name of body parts while you tickle them!  Good fun for you and your little one!  WARNING: Do not read before bedtime.

8. Wombat stew – Marcela K. Vaughan / Pamela Lofts

A very clever dingo caught a wombat and he is going to make a stew with it! Oh no! Can his friends save him?  Australia has an awesome fauna and what better way to show your kid about it than with a great story.  It probably is a bit long for little little ones and you will enjoy reading a story with a bit more words.  For this particular book I never translate it as for some reason I find it very difficult and I think I enjoy having a go at my best Aussie accent!

9. Pelican – Brian Wildsmith

This book was actually given to my husband when he was a child.  It is about a little boy, Paul, who finds a very large egg that turns out to be a pelican.  Paul now has to teach it to help at the farm.  This book is also a longer story for tiny toddlers, however, we like this book because there are half pages that uncover a different picture.  The story is very clever and my baby enjoys pointing at all the water and animals in the book.  I am not sure if this one is still on sale as new but I have seen it for sale used on Amazon.


10. Any book that shows kids how to countone woolly wombat

I have been reading recently that exposing children to numbers from an early age can help them with math at a later stage.  A little familiarity with numbers won’t hurt them and you will also have fun if you find a book with cute illustrations.  I really like One Woolly Wombat by Kerry Argent or I love my 1 2 3 (Ollie) by Anna Walker.

I hope you enjoyed this list and that it makes you excited about reading to your little one.   How about you? What are your favourite book for little toddlers? Leave us a comment here or on Facebook.

Happy reading!



What are bilingual books?

The world is getting smaller, the number of bilingual families is growing and with this, there is a need and a desire to teach both languages to children.  There are a few strategies to raise bilingual children, one of the most popular one is OPOL (One Parent One Language) in which each parent (or carer) speaks to the child exclusively in one language.  For example, a bilingual family where dad speaks to the child only in English and mum speaks only in Spanish.

Bilingual books can be a good resource for parents, teachers or carers to teach a target language.  But, what are bilingual books? As you can imagine, bilingual books are books that have the same story in two different languages.  The text is generally split in each language as the objective for children is to read without mixing languages.  This way, for example, the carer that always talks to the child in English, will read the story in English, and the carer that talks in Spanish, will read the story in Spanish.  Nowadays, there is more demand for bilingual books in different languages, and while I focus on bilingual books for children in English and Spanish, there are bilingual books in many different combinations.  In fact, my local library has books in English-Greek, English-Mandarin, English-Italian and many more.  This is because those are the books that the international communities in my city are looking for.

Now that I told you about bilingual books, I also need to tell you what bilingual books are NOT.  Bilingual books are NOT books to learn languages or grammar, Bilingual books are NOT books that mix language and they are NOT books that are translated too literally.


How do I read a bilingual children’s book?

It’s very important to be aware that if you are the parent or carer that always speaks in English, your role will be to always read the story in English.  On the other hand, if you are the carer that always speaks Spanish, then you will read in Spanish.  It’s also useful to point at the illustrations, objects and characters.  Ask your child questions about what will happen next.  Bilingual books are not a magic pill that will make your child speak another language overnight, however, they are a powerful tool, that combined with daily conversation, music and lots of patience, will help you raise bilingual children.

What do you think?  I hope I piqued your interest to learn more about bilingual books and that you can find books that can entertain your kids while you give them the gift of speaking another language.

Happy Reading!


La magia de los libros bilingües – Entrevista con Reto Bilingüe

Hace unas tres semanas, estuve en entrevista en el podcast de Reto Bilingüe.  No había tenido la oportunidad de subir el link aquí al blog y pues aquí está.  🙂

Me encantó esta experiencia puesto que pudimos platicar sobre la magia de los libros bilingües.  ¿Y cuál es esta magia? Da clic aquí y entérate.

Aquí platicando con Minerva Ortega, creadora del podcast Reto Bilingüe


Tips to help your child learn the letters of the alphabet

Para leer la versión en español haz click aquí.

Learning the letters of the alphabet and identifying how they sound, are the first steps to start reading.  If you want to help your kids to learn new letters, here are 7 tips so they can learn them.  It is very important to remember that toddlers can’t be still for long and that they need to have genuine interest in the activity.  The idea is that they learn while playing.

  1. The alphabet song.

You can use the usual melody or a new version, sing it together many times.  Repetition will help your child remember the letters.

  1. Spell their name.

Your child will love learning how to spell their own name.  You can start little by little by showing the first letter of their name in different books or sounds.  You can write down their name when you draw together in different colours while repeating the letter aloud.  Very soon, you will hear them say “J for John!”.  You can do the same with other words like “M for mum (mom in American English J), “D for dad”, or any other word that relates to anything that your child finds interesting, like dinosaurs or animals.

  1. Join the dots.

You can form words by drawing dots so your little one can join them.

  1. Colouring in letters and a picture that starts with that letter.

This is a quiet activity that you can do together.  You can start with a few letters at a time, two or four, depending on how long your child can focus her attention.  I made this animal alphabet book colouring pages which you can download here.  Also, you can find many other alphabets to colour in on the web depending on what your kid is interested in.

  1. I spy.

You can play I spy, especially when you have to wait.  This has worked well for us when we are driving.  Here I give you the Spanish versión which is called “Veo, veo”.  You can see how it works with the following YouTube link.


Veo, veo, ¿qué ves?

Una cosita

¿Y qué cosita es?

Empieza con la “N”

I spy

With my Little eye

Something that

begins with the letter “N”


  1. Find letters in signs.

When you are in the street, you can point to letters in a big sign.  For example, “F for Fatima”.

7. Reading.

Reading will always be one of the best ways to learn the letters of the alphabet and its sounds, especially when  your kids show interest in letters.  There are many styles of alphabet books either in English or Spanish.  Some haver ryhmes, some have textures, some have sofisticated illustrations.  You can pretty much find an alphabeth book for every taste.

If you are looking for alphabet books just in Spanish, this is a great list to start.

If you are after English only alphabet books, you can have a look here.

Of course, these are in addition to my book “Bilingual Zoo”. 🙂

I hope these tips have inspired you to play with letters and help your toddler to learn them in a fun way.  If you want to share a tip that I did not include here, feel free to include them in the comments below.

Happy Reading!


How to get the most out of your kids alphabet books

Sometimes our kids ask to read the same book again and again, so much so, that we end up learning it by heart.  In the case of alphabet books, you don’t only have to read from A to Z in that order.  Here I share some tips so your trip through the letters of the alphabet is more fun.

  1. Focus on the drawing and the sound of the letter.

Ask your child what the illustration is, what is it for, what colour it is.  When your child says the word emphasize the sound of that word.  If it is an armadillo you can say “AAAAArmadillo”.  If it is a dinosaur you can say “DDDDDinosaur” and so on.  The idea is that your child can relate that sound to the letter he is seeing.


  1. Make a mistake.

This works very well with kids older than 3.  You can pretend to say the wrong letter or the wrong word for the illustration.  If your kid already knows that letter, they will be very happy to tell you the right letter.  If they don’t realise you have it wrong, maybe you need to wait a little bit to use this tip.

  1. Describe the illustrations.

You can talk about something special about the illustration, either the colours, the shapes or the characters expressions.  Don’t forget to be expressive with your voice.  For example “Poor Little fishy, the crocodile is going to eat it!”


  1. Name different words with the same letter.

Don’t limit yourself only to the word in the picture. Ask your kid what other words start with that letter.

  1. Ask your child to trace the letter with their finger.

You can show them how to do it and they can copy you.  This is great if the letters in the book have textures, are embossed or a are hidden within the picture.

So there you have it, these are my tips to get the most out of your alphabet books.  If you have different tips to the ones I included, feel free to share in the comments.

Happy Reading!


What happened with “CH“ and “LL“?

You can read the Spanish version of this post here.

I know you are wondering, what happened with “CH“ and “LL“?

When I was illustrating this book, I was wondering if I should draw a CHeeta and a LLama.  I could not remember if CH and LL were part of the alphabet in Spanish.  I sort of remember repeating in primary school “A, B, C, CH, D“…. but at the end of the day, isn’t CH the combination of C and H, and LL is L twice?

It turns out that the Royal Academy of Spanish Language excluded CH and LL from the alphabet in 1994.  The explanation is in this link, it is in Spanish though.  You can imagine that I learned the alphabet a lot earlier than that! 🙂



Why an alphabet book?

Si quieres leer este post en español haz click aquí.

When my daughter turned two, she was given a beautiful alphabet book.  The book is small, for small hands, has die cut letters and bright colours.  Until then, I had always translated books on the fly from English to Spanish, but it is not the same to translate a story using the images to translate only a single word.  I could not say “G” is for garden but in Spanish it is “J” for jardin.


I tried finding alphabet books in English and Spanish, but none of them caught my attention enough to buy.  I had to search a bit better.  So in the meantime, I created the animal alphabet colouring pages using animals that start with the same letter in both English and Spanish.  Then I thought “why not putting these little animals into a book? Maybe, many other bilingual families are having the same problem”.


This is how I turned my animal alphabet colouring pages into a book.  Just before sending the file to print, and with the help of very good friends, I realised that the book was missing “something”.  I realised that if kids where going to enjoy this book, it had to be a bit more fun and not just have the animal sitting there doing nothing.  How boring!  So, I decided to write ther third Millie book and leave the alphabet book for another time.

One day, I Heard my daughter say “P for daddy”, instead of “P de papá”, “P for dog” instead of “P for perro” and I almost had a heart attack.  I know that this is mostly because, living in Australia, her stronger language is English.  This was enough for me to think again about that alphabet book.  Time to go back to drawing!  Everyday, after work, dinner and putting the little one to bed, I would set up one hour to draw my characters.  Thank Goodness I have a great husband and we are a great team! 🙂


I have to say that now, I am very happy with the result.  I hope this is a book that you and your kids enjoy reading together.

See you soon!


¿Por qué un libro del abecedario?

If you want to read this blog post in English, click here.

Cuando mi hija cumplió 2 años, le regalaron un libro del abecedario súper bonito.  El libro es pequeño para manos pequeñas, tiene las letras troqueladas y colores muy vivos.  Yo siempre había  estado traduciendo mientras leía libros en inglés, pero no es lo mismo traducir un cuento ayudado de las imágenes que traducir una palabra sola.  Era muy difícil decir que la “G” es de garden en inglés, pero en español se dice jardín que se escribe con “J”.


Busqué libros con el alfabeto en inglés y en español, pero ninguno me llamó la atención como para comprarlo.  Tenía que buscar mejor.  Así que decidí mientras tanto, hacer unas páginas para colorear con el alfabeto y relacionando animales en inglés y en español.  Y después se me ocurrió, “¿por qué no hacer un libro con estos animalitos?  Tal vez, muchas familias bilingües tendrán este mismo problema”.


Fue así cuando convertí mis páginas de colorear en un libro.  Justo antes de enviar el archivo para imprimir, y con la ayuda de mis buenas amigas, me di cuenta de que al libro le faltaba “algo”.  Me di cuenta de que si este libro le iba a gustar a los niños, tenía que ser más divertido y no tener el animal ahí sin hacer nada.  ¡Qué chiste! Entonces, mejor decidí escribir el tercer libro de Millie y dejar el libro del alfabeto por la paz.

Pero un día, escucho a mi hija decir “P for daddy”, en lugar de “P de papá”, “P for dog” en lugar de “P de perro” y casi me da el patatús.  Si bien, yo sé que esto es ayudado porque viviendo en Australia, su idioma más fuerte es el inglés, eso fue suficiente para darme otra vez el gusanito de terminar este abecedario para niños bilingües.  Así que ¡a volver a empezar con todas las ilustraciones! Todos los días después de terminar el trabajo, de cenar y poner a nuestra hija a dormir, le dedicaba una hora a arreglar los dibujos.  Gracias a Dios, mi esposo y yo somos muy buen equipo. 🙂


Debo decir que ahora estoy contenta con el resultado.  Espero que sea un libro que le guste mucho a tus peques y que disfruten leyéndolo juntos.

¡Hasta pronto!


Reading aloud: Millie goes to space

I just wanted to share the read aloud of my first book ‘Millie goes to space’.  I hope you and your kids enjoy it!