Reading in Spanish

By Lucía Rodriguez.

Lee este artículo en español.

We all know how reading can improve your Spanish. Your next challenge might be to finish reading a whole book in Spanish. You will know that feeling of satisfaction when you finally  turn the final page. 

Sometimes we have to lower our expectations about books in Spanish. Believe me, if you are not an advanced student, you don’t want to read Don Quijote de la Mancha. It is a masterpiece, a difficult book, with an extraordinary and deep meaning. You want something light, easy to understand and read. Usually it is the same with movies, you don’t want to learn a dialect or be frustrated with slams.

Reading in Spanish will  improve your skills. It’ll expand your vocabulary and also help internalize the language you already know.

There’s also something special about seeing language written down, as opposed to just hearing it. Seeing the words written on the page will hopefully aid your memory of the word and help you recall it later. Reading will cause your brain to make a connection between the written and spoken word. And it will be much easier for you to remember it. 

Another benefit is that you’ll always have the opportunity to read sentences over and over again until you get the meaning, something that’s not so easy when you’re trying to eavesdrop on the bus.

There’s also less anxiety involved in reading than when you’re trying to get your message across verbally. In fact, reading is probably the most stress-free activity you can do to learn a language. When you read, you can sit back, relax and just take it all in at your own pace.

Reading in another language is also a great way to discover new stories that you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to read. Not all books written in Spanish are translated into English, so your Spanish skills may be able to help you discover a world you wouldn’t have known existed otherwise.

Another reason to read books in Spanish is to learn expressions or set phrases. If it is a book where its protagonists are from the lower, middle, or upper class, you can see the differences in language. Little by little you will learn different expressions that they use in one or another social stage.

If the thought running through your head is, “But I’m not advanced enough!” think again. Just like when you learned to read in your own language, you can start with basic books and work your way up to something more complicated.

How do you pick the perfect Spanish Book?

-If you are a beginner try to find a basic Spanish book. Even short stories for children. Actually there are amazing books for children.

-Choose a topic that suits your specific interests. A good story keeps you into it, remember reading it is not  homework , it is a pleasure. If you don’t like the story it will be easy to get frustrated and bored.

-Start with short stories. You will feel that you reach your goal if you finish your book.

That is why I recommend eight easy-to-read books that will help you to focus in Spanish. 

Doce Cuentos Peregrinos
By Gabriel García Márquez. Titled “Strange Pilgrims” in English, this book is the perfect way to introduce yourself into the fantastic worlds of this legendary author.
Genre: Literature & Short Stories
Rating: 5/5

Gael y la red de mentiras: una novela gráfica
This series by Ernesto Rodríguez uses a comic book format and the illustrations are fabulous. Each book also offers reading comprehension exercises for learners to assess their reading skills. It targets beginner level learners, but anyone who enjoys comic books will love reading about Gael and his amigos (friends).“Gael y la red de mentiras: una novela gráfica” (Gael and the Network of Lies: A Graphic Novel) is one of three books in a wonderful graded reader series. The other two books are called “Gael y las sombras de la huida” (Gael and the Shadows of Flight) and “Gael y el arte de la traición” (Gael and the Art of Treason).
Genre: Literature & Spanish Language Instruction
Rating: 4/5

Muerte en Buenos Aires
By Paco Ardit. Part of a series of Spanish novels graded by level of proficiency in Spanish (A1, A2, etc). This one is written for an A1 level student, and that’s its main asset. It’s more a didactic tool than a literary gem.
Genre: Literature & Spanish Language Instruction
Rating: 4/5

El Principito
By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Little Prince.” Another non-Spanish book, and another classic too. The simple writing style of this classic work of world literature makes it an excellent choice to read in a new language.
A good book for practicing simple dialogue and the past tense, “El principito” is a slim volume, and is a manageable length for intermediate students and above.
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Rating: 5/5

Manolito Gafotas
By Elvira Lindo. One more of the children’s Spanish books that is worth reading at this stage of your Spanish learning progress. Just this time the kid is Spaniard, not South American.
Genre: Children Literature & Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Un Pingüino en el Desierto
By Carlos Puerto, “A Penguin in the Desert.” The story of Jaima and her penguin, who embark on a journey together and learn about the big questions of life. Written for tweens, it’s an easy-to-tell story with a deep message.
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Rating: 4/5

El alquimista
Originally written in Portuguese by Paulo Coelho, the Spanish translation of this international bestseller is a good one if you want to read a whole novel in Spanish. The story of “The Alchemist” concerns a young Spanish shepherd who goes on a quest after having a recurring dream.
Apart from its spiritual message, this book’s main language benefit is that both the vocabulary and grammar are simple and easy to understand.
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Cuentos de la selva
A book of short stories for children by Horacio Quiroga, “Cuentos de la selva” (Stories from the Jungle) was written in 1918 by Uruguayan author Horacio Quiroga. Quiroga spent many years living in the jungle of Misiones, Argentina and used his experiences to bring the jungle to life in these short stories.
Genre: Literature & Short Stories
Rating: 5/5

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