Every bookworm remembers the first short stories and authors that became the stepping stones for their reading lists. However, a bilingual childhood allows a reader to open so many doors into the world of literature. As a person who grew up in Mexico until she was eleven years-old, learning both English and Spanish was a definite requirement.
So, here are fourteen books that shaped and enriched my childhood, and can probably do the same for other young readers in your life!
The English-Speaking Side
1. Jigsaw Jones Mysteries by James Preller, illustrated by R.W. Alley
Got a missing hamster? Want to find the identity of the anonymous class clown or the person who sent you a Valentine’s card? Jigsaw Jones, private detective, is the man (or boy) for the job.
2. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Unrelated to Jigsaw Jones up there, but both Joneses would probably get along well after a couple of disagreements. Junie B. Jones, the B stands for Beatrice, is a kindergartner with a vastly creative imagination and a heightened sense of curiosity.
3. Geronimo Stilton by Elisabetta Dami
The apprehensive mouse (and editor of The Rodent Gazette) we all know and love. If you don’t know him yet and you enjoy cheese puns, I highly recommend you give any of the books in the series a shot, regardless of your age.
4. Eric Carle
The author and illustrator of books such as: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Mixed Up Chameleon, and my personal favorite, Hello, Red Fox. Eric Carle was all the rage throughout my elementary school years. There were several class projects in my school where we’d make our own collages or write whimsical short stories.
5. Robert Munsch
Author of Makeup Mess, A Promise is a Promise, Stephanie’s Ponytail, More Pies!, and Something Good among many, many more. From zaniness to a more serious tone, the heartfelt lesson was always tangible in all of his works.
6. Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
Mary Lou Finney has to keep a journal throughout the summer. What appears to be a very uneventful vacation ends up as quite the opposite, chaotic, entertaining experience.
7. The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
Back in 4th grade, my classmates and I were doing an English project involving Carnival at Candlelight. It actually inspired an early love for Venice and masquerades.
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Greg decides to start a journal–not to keep track of his feelings or anything, but rather to throw at reporters who would ask questions about his life once he is famous, as he explained.
9. Tili y el muro (Tillie and the Wall) by Leo Lionni
Tillie was always curious as to what stood on the other side of a giant wall. After some thought, she decides to dig underneath the wall, and as she digs, she imagines what beautiful, colorful things would greet her. Much to her surprise, she found something far better.
10. Mafalda by Quino
A cynical Argentinian young girl who is interested in politics (her pet turtle is named ‘Bureaucracy’), hates soup, and is witness to her friends’ hilarious shenanigans.
11. Tianguis de nombres (The Name Tianguis) by Gilberto Rendón Ortiz, illustrated by Antonio Helguera and Patricio Gómez
A snobby cockroach mocks the other bugs and insects of the critter community for having common or otherwise ‘simpleton’ names. She soon starts a business of selling new names in exchange of nectar drops–the more drops of nectar a critter gets for her, the fancier/ridiculously complicated the name will be.
12. El fantasma del palacio (The Ghost of the Palace) by Mira Lobe, illustrated by Susi Weigel
A lonely ghost finds a friend in a painter and his pets after a bit of an accident with a bucket of red paint and some light mischief.
13. El pequeño vampiro (The Little Vampire) by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg
Tony is a young lad who loves horror, and his dreams (sort of) come true the day he meets and befriends Rüdiger von Schlotterstein, an ancient vampire boy.
Originally written in German, my first experience with The Little Vampire was just as awesome in the Spanish translation as it would’ve been in any other language. This was a book I’d read over and over again until the school’s librarian gave me a copy as a gift.
14. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
My parents had a green leather-bound copy with gorgeous illustrations for each story. The text itself was translated into Spanish, so (strangely enough) my first experience with the Grimm brothers was in that language.
What were the stories that turned your childhood into a colorful experience?
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Featured image via The Carle Bookshop