Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to languages. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about languages.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about languages, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Mystery of the brass-bound trunk to popular sellers like The List to some of our favorite hidden gems like The William Hoy Story.
We hope this list of kids books about languages can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Choo Choo / Chuu chuu - What could be more fun than an old-fashioned train ride? Off go the passengers, past the town, into the woods (shhh, shhh), over the bridge (clack, clack), into the tunnel (toot, toot), and back into the sunshine. Where is this train headed? Turn the shaped pages to find out!
Don Quixote - BabyLit® is a fashionable way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature. With clever, simple text by Jennifer Adams, paired with stylish design and illustrations by Sugar’s Alison Oliver, these books are a must for every savvy parent’s nursery library. This book introduces your toddler to Cervantes’s, Don Quixote.
Blue-Azul - Did you know that colors can tell stories? The illustrations in this charming board book introduce your brilliant baby to all kinds of things that are blue, including finny fish and giant whales in the deep blue sea, a blue-jeaned cowboy eating blueberries, and Bluebeard the pirate by the waters of a nearby river. Our blue planet Earth begins this fun story that leads in surprising directions, all with a cool and sincere blue tone. Part of the Colors series. Illustrator Xavier Salomó was born in Barcelona. He studied illustration, drawing, and printing at the Massana School of Barcelona and art history at the University of Barcelona. He’s worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for various advertising agencies and publishers. In 2006, he won the Junceda Prize for his book The Sounds of . . . Meritxell Martí was also born in Barcelona, and is a writer and professor of humanities at the Open University of Catalonia.
I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story / Yo Recuerdo a Abuelito: Un Cuento del Día de los Muertos (Spanish and English Edition) - It’s the Day of the Dead! It’s time to celebrate! In this bilingual book, a young girl is busy helping her family prepare to honor those who have died—especially her grandfather. She misses him very much and is excited for his spirit to visit that night. Es el Día de los Muertos. ¡Es tiempo de celebrar! En este libro biligua una niña joven esta ocupada ayudando a su familia preparar en los que han muerto―especialmente su abuelo. Ella lo estraña mucho y está con mucho emoción que su espirito venga de visita está noche.
Te amo, bebé / Love You, Baby (Spanish and English Edition) - Now selling a million copies a year, INDESTRUCTIBLES is the runaway little series that could! Printed on a special nontoxic, 100% washable, paperlike, recyclable material that is rip proof, chew proof, and drool proof, they are books designed for the way babies read—with their mouths! With text in English and Spanish, Te amo, bebé (Love You, Baby) is an excellent fit for bilingual and English speaking families alike. INDESTRUCTIBLES’ text is simple and engaging, and the bold, bright illustrations hold baby’s attention. Priced at just $5.95, these books are such a great value, parents will want to collect them all.
How Do You Say Good Night? - Snuggle up and learn how to say “good night” in ten different languages with this heartwarming bedtime board book! A lovely bedtime follow-up to How Do You Say I Love You?, this sweet lullaby featuring adorable illustrations by Shirley Ng-Benitz is the perfect way for parents to wish their little ones a good night’s sleep. From Mexico, Vietnam, Kenya, and beyond, this charming board book teaches little ones how to say “good night” in ten different languages: Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swahili, Arabic, Vietnamese, German, and Korean!
Take Me Out to the Yakyu - You may know that baseball is the Great American Pastime, but did you know that it is also a beloved sport in Japan? Come along with one little boy and his grandfathers, one in America and one in Japan, as he learns about baseball and its rich, varying cultural traditions. This debut picture book from Aaron Meshon is a home run—don’t be surprised if the vivid illustrations and energetic text leave you shouting, “LET’S PLAY YAKYU!”
Pie in the Sky - A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy’s immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks! Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . . When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao. To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama. In her hilarious, emotional middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Real Friends.
Want to see books about family?
P Is for Paris - See the sights of Paris as never before! Award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby takes us from A for Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and some lesser known gems of Paris. Paired with snippets of useful information about each landmark, each page’s bold, eye-catching imagery is a visual treat for both kids and adults. Bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of this unique and stunning city, this is a one-of-a-kind book for Paris lovers of all ages.
On a un Problème Avec Lilou la Loutre - Lilou la loutre est mignonne, agile et enjouée. Le problème, c’est qu’elle aime un peu trop glisser… La seule et unique mission de cet album ? Faire rire ! Argumentaire • Un album résolument drôle, où la folie prend le dessus. • Une histoire racontée d’abord et avant tout par les illustrations, où chaque mot est choisi. • Orbie, une illustratrice aimée et reconnue, qui fait ici ses premiers pas comme auteure.
Zeraffa Giraffa - This is the astonishing true story of Zeraffa, a giraffe who was sent as a gift from Egypt to France in 1826. A young boy, Atir, takes care of Zeraffa on her epic journey and the sailors sing songs as she gazes down at them. In France, Atir leads her through the countryside, and thousands of people marvel at Zeraffa. Paris falls in love with Zeraffa. The King builds her a special house in the Jardin des Plantes. On warm nights, the young princess visits, while Atir whispers stories to Zeraffa of a hot land far away. The amazing story by an award-winning author of a giraffe’ s extraordinary voyage from Africa to Paris.
The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot―and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world. This title has Common Core connections.
Want to see books about french?
Nita's First Signs - Baby sign language makes it easy to communicate with your child, and Nita makes it fun! Nita’s First Signs teaches ten essential signs for every parent and child to know, including eat, more, hungry, milk, all done, ball, play, love, please, and thank you. A simple story about Nita and her parents teaches each sign in context, and repetition throughout each story makes them easy to practice. Even better, each page slides open to reveal accurate instructions on how to make each sign, plus tabs on the side of each page make it simple to locate every sign for later reference. Baby sign language collections aren’t complete without Nita!
Nita's Day: More Signs for Babies and Parents - Sign language makes it easy to communicate with your child, and Nita makes it fun! The second book in the Little Hands Signing series (which introduced the bestselling Nita’s First Signs), Nita’s Day teaches ten new and essential ASL signs for every parent and child to know: wake up, change, clothes, eat, potty, go, play, bath, book, and bed. A simple story about Nita and her parents teaches each sign in context. Even better, each page slides open to reveal accurate instructions on how to make each sign, plus tabs on the side of each page make it simple to locate every sign for later reference. No signing book collection is complete without Nita!
ABC Baby Signs - ABC Baby Signs is a charming third installment in Christiane Engel’s illustrated ABC for Me series, following in the footsteps of ABC Yoga and ABC Love. ABC Baby Signs features twenty-six of the most common, simple baby signs, such as “all done,” “more,” and “please,” to teach babies and toddlers basic ways to communicate with their hands before they can verbalize their needs. This title features one sign per letter of the alphabet, a cute rhyming story, adorable illustrations, and sweet, illustrated demonstrations. Kids and their parents will love learning baby signs together!
Mystery of the brass-bound trunk - From the moment Nancy Drew boards an ocean liner leaving for New York, she becomes involved in a new and dangerous mystery. A man on the pier gestures to someone on board in sign language. BEWARE OF NANCY DREW AND NE, he signals. Who is NE? Can it be Nelda Detweiler, a young woman who shares a cabin with Nancy, Bess, and George? Mystery and intrigue follow the girls across the ocean; but with her usual ingenuity Nancy solves the mystery and defeats her enemies before the ship reaches New York.
Want to see books about sign language?
I Love You, World - Spread the love with this adorable book that teaches little readers how to say “I love you” in thirteen different languages including French, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Setswana, Chinese, Swahili, and more! About the Global Greetings series: These beautifully illustrated, sturdy board books teach young readers to greet the world in languages from around the globe. Featuring simple pronunciation guides, these books are designed to help little ones master each word and encourage them to broaden their language skills, all while the adorable animal illustrations keep them entertained read after read.
How Are You?/ Cómo Estás - When two giraffe friends find a baby ostrich, they have some questions. Is baby ostrich hungry? Shy? Tired? Ostrich saysno! So how does she feel? Friendship awaits in this book about feelings, expressed both in English and in Spanish.
Who Am I? - Who Am I?, a Let’s Learn Spanish lift-the-flap book introduces little ones to the Spanish words for animals around the house. I purr and play with yarn and string. “Me-ow, me-ow” is what I sing. I’m striped or plain or calico I am a furry, sweet gato (cat). Introducing a creative way to learn first words in Spanish, Who Am I? uses the power of rhyme and lift-the-flaps to teach basic animal names. Perfect for young readers and families looking for a gentle introduction into a new language, Who Am I? focuses on everyday animals in the first book in the Let’s Learn Spanish series.
Colors (Colores) - Learn English and Spanish words with Eric Carle! Parents are increasingly aware of the benefits of teaching children multiple languages, and the earlier the better! This ingeniously simple board book uses Eric Carle?s vibrant artwork to teach simple words?slide the panel to reveal the name of each color in English or in Spanish. It combines the effectiveness of flashcards with the interactivity of a novelty book!
Want to see books about animals?
Singing - Cantando De Colores: A Bilingual Book of Harmony - Inspired by one of the oldest and most beloved traditional Spanish folk songs, “De Colores” (In Colors), this book will introduce little ones to the beauty of life, joy, inclusivity, and their first English and Spanish words.
EVITA - Introducing Spanish/English bilingualism, Lil’ Libros encourage parents to read to their children at the earliest age—focusing on subjects they are familiar with, while making it fun and rewarding for both parent and child.
Want to see books about first concepts?
How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo Se Dice? - Hello! ¡Hola! Some people speak Spanish. Some people speak English. Although we may not speak the same language, some things, like friendship, are universal! Follow two young giraffes as they meet, celebrate, and become friends. This bilingual tale will have readers eager to meet new friends and amigos.
Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! (English and Japanese Edition) - Legendary author/illustrator Eric Carle pairs with Kazuo Iwamura to create a picture book full of rhyme and repetition, in a question and response format that will delight young readers. Acclaimed author-illustrator Eric Carle and Japanese artist Kazuo Iwamura have created a unique bilingual book, half in English, half in Japanese, with each half illustrated respectively by Carle and Iwamura. Carle, using his distinctive collage technique, and Iwamura introduce a colorful cast of characters who join one another, one-by-one, on the way to see their friends. The two parts meet in the middle, in a beautiful eight-page gatefold. Here, Carle and Iwamura’s stories and art come together, as the friends finally meet, joining English and Japanese.
Want to see books about friendship?
First Words - Japanese - Perfect for introducing very young children to the Japanese language, this colourful board book features 12 words to learn – from ‘sun’ and ‘shoes’ to ‘beach’ and ‘bed’. Each word is accompanied by an illustration and pronunciation guide that make the vocabulary easy to learn. From Lonely Planet Kids, First Words Japanese is a great learning resource for families planning a trip or practicing a new language at home. Our dedicated First Words website features a free audio pronunciation guide where you can hear each word spoken out loud.
Zoe and the Fawn - Zoe and her father are delighted to come across a fawn in the forest. But the fawn is alone—where is its mother? Join Zoe on her quest for the deer, as she encounters animals and learns their syilx (Okanagan) names along the way. Repetition of phrased questions will enhance success for beginning readers while creating a playful rhythm for young listeners.
The Language of Angels - In 1885, few Jews in Israel used the holy language of their ancestors, and Hebrew was in danger of being lost—until Ben Zion and his father got involved. Through the help of his father and a community of children, Ben modernized the ancient language, creating a lexicon of new, modern words to bring Hebrew back into common usage. Historically influenced dialogue, engaging characters, and colorful art offer a linguistic journey about how language develops and how one person’s perseverance can make a real difference. Influenced by illuminated manuscripts, Karla Gudeon’s illustrations bring Ben Zion—and the rebirth of Hebrew—to life.
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