Papá and Me by Arthur Dorros

Our four-year-old walked into the room the other day, smiled, and proudly said, “Buenos días. ¿Cómo éstas?” Now, I hardly speak any Spanish at all, and though I knew what she meant, I also knew she hadn’t learned that from me. My husband is fairly fluent in Spanish and teaches the girls bits and pieces here and there, but we hadn’t thought either had picked up on any. Were we wrong! And more importantly, she LOVES to use the Spanish she knows! Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for some bilingual books with Spanish words and phrases, so that I can introduce her to some more when my husband isn’t around. I had checked Papá and Me out from the library for HarperKids #ReadInFullColor initiative, and while it’s perfect for that, it’s also perfect for helping our girls learn more Spanish!

At first glance, Papá and Me by Arthur Dorros is special because it highlights a loving relationship between father and son. Upon subsequent reads and more closely observing the text, I noticed that their relationship is even more special, as the boy is bilingual, but the father only speaks Spanish. Despite their differences in communication, they spend the day together, creating, laughing, exploring, and enjoying each other. The story then ends with a visit to Abuela and Abuelo, his paternal grandparents, illustrated in a deep, warm, four-way embrace.

As you may guess, given that Papá only speaks Spanish, Dorros has used Spanish words and phrases throughout the text. The Spanish words and phrases are italicized, making them easy to see, and are always given context so that non-Spanish speakers can gain an accurate understanding of their meanings. However, the whole book still flows… The translations aren’t abrupt or jarring, as they can be in some bilingual books.

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And these illustrations from Rudy Gutierrez are stunning! They’re vivid, full of both color and life. The paintings are slightly abstract, but not so much that children have trouble connecting with them and understanding them. Guitierrez has also used the endpages to create a beautiful glossary, using color and illustrations to match words, phrases, and meanings. I’ve never seen a glossary done in such a creative manner, and I love it!

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Are you looking for a diverse, colorful, bilingual book to read with your little ones? Are you hoping to teach your children that love can be communicated despite language barriers? If so, Papá and Me is the book for you!

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