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.
When it comes to children’s stories about languages, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Colors (Colores) 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.
Learn how to say “I love you” in ten different languages with this heartwarming board book. “I love you” may sound different around the world, but the meaning is the same. From China, to France, to Russia, to Brazil, and beyond, this charming board book features “I love you” in ten different languages. Tapping into the emotions that parents feel for their children, the rhyming text is accompanied by sweet artwork that depicts different cultures around the world.
Meet Spike, a lovable monster—and a real-life salamander—who’s looking for friends in this lively picture book that includes Spanish vocabulary. Spike is a scary-looking salamander who keeps trying to frighten other animals—until he finds that using fear is not the best way to make friends. And since Spike lives in Mexico (he is an endangered species called the axolotl), this story is peppered with easy-to-understand Spanish words. In addition to a charming tale of friendship, this picture book contains nonfiction information about the axolotl and a Spanish/English glossary.
Kids learn the alphabet and Spanish words for animals in this charming book. Pairing each letter of the Spanish alphabet with the Spanish word for a popular animal and its English translation, ABC Spanish is a gorgeously illustrated, engaging read that makes learning the alphabet and Spanish words fun for the entire family. The included pronunciation guide helps teach the proper pronunciation of each animal, making this book a perfect introduction to the Spanish language.
“Inspired by one of the oldest traditional games of chance, this book will introduce your little one to their first English and Spanish words”
Introduce your bébéto the world of Victor Hugo with 10 words and phrases from the classic Les Miserables.Colorful, eye-catching illustrations of characters and objects from the novel pair with French translations you’ll want to hear your baby say again and again.
The William Hoy Story - All William Ellsworth Hoy wanted to do was play baseball. After losing out on a spot on the local deaf team, William practiced even harder—eventually earning a position on a professional team. But his struggle was far from over. In addition to the prejudice Hoy faced, he could not hear the umpires’ calls. One day he asked the umpire to use hand signals: strike, ball, out. That day he not only got on base but also changed the way the game was played forever. William “Dummy” Hoy became one of the greatest and most beloved players of his time!
Counting with Frida / Contando con Frida (Lil' Libros: English - Spanish) - A Lil’ Libros Bilingual Counting Book Introduce your little one to the life of one of Mexico’s most iconic painters, Frida Kahlo, while teaching them their numbers, 1 to 10, in English and Spanish. Count una casa azul (one blue house), tres flores (three flowers), and cinco retratos (five portraits).
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.
Two shaped board books from Petr Horácek are now available in dual Spanish-English editions — perfect for little ones who love things that go. When a family piles into a bright yellow car to drive to Grandma’s house, they go broom, broom through the town, vroom, vroom along the highway, and chug, chug over the crosswalk. Getting there is almost as exciting as the welcome that awaits at the end — and bright pictures and playful sound words make this a trip to enjoy.
Inspired by one of the most recognized symbols of Dia de Muertos or “Day of the Dead,” a holiday that celebrates life and remembers the dearly departed, this book will introduce little ones to emotional expressions and their first English and Spanish words.
Inspired by the last Aztec Emperor of the old Mexico, this book introduces children to both shapes and their first English and Spanish words. You and your child will explore the city of Tenochtitlan along side Cuauhtémoc —where you’ll come across the circulo in the Aztec calendar, the triangle in the pyramid, the heart in the shield of an Aztec princess, and more!
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.
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 green, including yummy spinach, a frog jumping on a water lily, and a tortoise drinking green tea. An intrepid caterpillar begins this fun story that leads in surprising directions, all colored with relaxing and harmonious shades of green. 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.
La Princesa and the Pea - The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration. El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . . Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.
Not a Bean - A Mexican jumping bean isn’t a bean at all. It’s a fascinating home and food source for a special kind of caterpillar! With Spanish vocabulary and a clever counting concept, this poetic story shares the life cycle of a Mexican jumping bean. This curious jumping insect is actually a seedpod from a shrub called yerba de la flecha, into which a caterpillar burrows, living inside the pod until it builds a cocoon and breaks out as a moth. Perfect for preschoolers and prereaders, this creative picture book explores the Mexican jumping bean’s daily life and eventual transformation and escape from the pod.
Zapata: Colors - Colores (Bilingual: English / Spanish) - “Inspired by Emiliano Zapata, a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, this book will introduce your little ones to their first English and Spanish words”—page  of cover.
Stolen Words / Kimotinaniwiw Pikiskwewina - The dual language edition, in Cree and English, of the award-winning story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in Cree, he tells her that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
In this lively picture book, children discover a world of shapes all around them: rectangles are ice-cream carts and stone metates, triangles are slices of watermelon and quesadillas. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the shapes found in every child’s day!
At six months or so baby knows what she wants, but just can’t say it yet. Until now. Baby sign language is a proven bridge between baby talk and first English, and here’s the clearest way to learn it. With pull tabs that demonstrate exactly how to make each sign, My First Baby Signs teaches parents and babies eight essential words: “all done,” “milk,” “eat,” “more,” “thank you,” “bath,” “help,” and “bed.” Just pull the tab, point to the moving sign, and say the word. Your baby will be signing in no time.
Early one morning, a young boy wakes to the light of his alarm clock. He puts on his hearing aids and clothes, then goes to wake his father. Together they brave the cold as they walk down the dirt road that leads to the beach. Lakin’s understated story reminds readers that sometimes the best way to communicate doesn’t involve words, while Steele’s watercolor illustrations show that beauty is never far away.
This beautifully designed and playfully illustrated novelty board book is the perfect starting point for tiny ballerinas and parents alike. Sweet and spare rhymes prance across the pages, engaging the reader with real ballet terms and plenty of pink. Parents and toddlers together will sigh Bravo as they turn off the light.
Meet the boy who made up his own language — and brought hope to millions. Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. Growing up Jewish in Bialystok, Poland, in the late 1800s, young Leyzer Zamenhof was surrounded by languages: Russian, Yiddish, German, Polish, and many others. But the multiethnic Bialystok was full of mistrust and suspicion, and Leyzer couldn’t help but wonder: If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace? So Zamenhof set out to create a new language, one that would be easy to learn and could connect people around the world. He published a book of his new language and signed it Dr. Esperanto — “one who hopes.” Mara Rockliff uses her unique knack for forgotten history to tell the story of a young man who saw possibility where others saw only barriers, while Polish illustrator Zosia Dzierzawska infuses every scene with warmth and energy, bringing the story of Esperanto to life.
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!
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!
Say Hello! - Illustrations and rhyming text reveal that “hello” can be said many ways, from a handshake to a dance of happiness, and that the world would be a lot more fun if more hellos were shared.
Salsa Lullaby - How to get baby to sleep? Mami and Papi will try anything in this bouncy, loving, bilingual lullaby that gently says good night in both Spanish and English. Mami starts a salsa song. Papi keeps the beat. Baby loves this lullaby, moves those dancing feet. Baila, baby, baila! Dance, dance, dance. When nighttime falls, it’s time for baby to go to sleep. In this household, that means it’s also time for mama, papa, and baby to baila/dance, canta/sing, salta/jump, and more all the way to bedtime! This bouncy bilingual text and gorgeous, inviting illustrations gently wind down to make this a bedtime favorite no matter what language families say “good night” in!
Meet a little boy named Paco who loves to draw but can’t seem to concentrate during school in this picture book that’s sprinkled with Spanish words! Paco gazed out at the late-morning sun. He wondered why recess had not yet begun. He wanted to go to el campo and play, and act like a matador shouting “¡Olé!” Paco loves daydreaming and drawing, but he struggles to concentrate during class. When his profesor takes him to the art room, Paco is amazed by the colorful paints: pink, rosado; purple, morado; fiery orange, anaranjado; and more! Could art be just what Paco needs? Complete with an author’s note and glossary of Spanish words, this story is a great introduction to Spanish with a strong message about the power of art!
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!”
Learn to say ‘I Love You’ in French, Japanese, Mandarin, English and Spanish with this fun press and listen board book. Meet a child from each country who loves a different person, from George in England who loves his dog, to Jia in China who loves her brother. Press each button on the side of the book to hear the phrase said in each language, then practise saying it yourself!
A bilingual slide-the-tab board book, with text in English and Spanish. Cleverly introduce basic ideas about what happens in the morning when you wake up, including a rooster crowing, an alarm clock ringing, Dad shaving, and neighbors making coffee. The tabs add fun and unexpected movement for illustrator Xavier Salomó’s simple but engaging art. 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 born in Barcelona, and is a writer and professor of humanities at the Open University of Catalonia.
Following Bear’s recipe for honey buns, bees Bizz and Buzz are confused by homophones, causing them to use a “flower” instead of “flour” and tell a buttercup how much they “need” it instead of “kneading” the flower and butter together.
Besos for Baby - Everyone has kisses for Baby, from Mami and Papi to perro and gato. Using simple Spanish words, this charming read-aloud proves that love is the same in every language! Parents won’t be able to resist giving baby muchos besos as they share this bilingual read aloud, filled with bold, graphic illustrations, with their little bébé!
Green Is a Chile Pepper - Green is a chile pepper, spicy and hot. Green is cilantro inside our pot. In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the colors found in every child’s day!
Marta! Big & Small - In this story that incorporates Spanish words, Marta explores the world of opposites and animals.
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!
End the day with this adorable book that teaches little readers to say “good night” in fifteen different languages including Thai, Swahili Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Gaelic, 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.
Count to 5 in French, Japanese, Mandarin, English, and Spanish with this press and listen board book! Meet children that speak different languages around the world and count with them, from Santiago, who speaks Spanish and counts five oranges, to Marie, who speaks French and counts five penguins. A chunky board book format with push-button sounds along the side, plus gorgeous art from best-selling illustrator Kenard Pak, makes this a great first language primer for curious kids.
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.
A Lil’ Libros Bilingual Biography Selena’s career started at a young age when she became lead singer in her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos. She went on to become an award-winning artist with albums like Amor Prohibido and Selena Live, and earned the title “Queen of Tejano Music.” Your little one will learn that Selena’s favorite food was pizza and that the most important people in the world to her were her familiaand fans.
Perfect for introducing very young children to the Italian 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 Italian 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.
First Words - Mandarin - Perfect for introducing very young children to the Mandarin 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 Mandarin 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.
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.
Tres Reyes Magos - 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.
Guadalupe: First Words/Primeras Palabras - A Lil’ LIbros Bilingual Picture Book Inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe, this book will introduce children to her story through pictures and their first English and Spanish words. Travel back to the 15th century when the Virgin of Guadalupe once appeared before Juan Diego. Your childwill learn first words such as sandalias(sandals), luz(light), and jardin(garden).
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!
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.
Now children can celebrate a Parisian Christmas with Madeline, Pepito and all their friends. In this activity book, children will have hours of fun using the seventy-five reusable stickers to fly the twelve little girls on magic carpets over the banks of the Seine, decorate a Christmas tree, or tuck the girls into bed in the old house in Paris. Sixteen pages of Christmas crafts and games, including an ornament to make, and the entire text of Madeline’s Christmas are included. When children are done, they can simply put the stickers back on their sheets to play with Madeline and her friends year round.
A mother and daughter spend a sunny day at the beach together where they swim, dance, build sandcastles, and, most importantly, communicate. But their communication is not spoken; rather, it is created by loving hands that use American Sign Language. Readers will learn how to sign 15 words using American Sign Language with the help of sidebars that are both instructive and playful. And the beautifully illustrated beach scenes will appeal both to the deaf community and to hearing parents and children, who will enjoy this gentle introduction to some basic words in ASL. Hands & Hearts is a picture book unlike any other, revealing the special bond between mother and child.
HELLO! Welcome, all! This book tells the story of a tall sister and her small brother and their thrilling, rollicking adventures near the sea. What makes it swell? Well, it’s jolly and silly and full of words that contain the letter pair LL. BRILLIANT!
King Louie's Shoes - Get to know the hilarious true story of King Louis XIV of France and his famous high-heeled shoes! King Louie was a very BIG king in all ways but one: He was five-feet-four-inches short. So Louie and his royal cobbler cooked up the perfect high-heeled solution to help Louie appear taller. But after an embarrassing tumble (on the dance floor, no less!) Louie learned that his subjects were loyal no matter how big—or how shrimpy—their beloved Louie might have been. Readers young and old will relate to this silly and sweet story of King Louie XIV—a man who had it all, but still felt small.
The List - In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.