1st Steps of Building Library

Disclaimer: This blog post is about Spanish novels. Many of them have been translated into other languages, but many of them haven’t… So, non-Spanish teachers, I hope you can still get something from my advice.

Building a CI Reading Program is a worthy venture. But lots of teachers don’t have $2000 to plop down on getting multiple copies of every CI authored novel out there. So, here’s my recommendation for how to build your library strategically:

Start by buying the beginner books. It’s easy to overestimate what beginner students can do when reading independently because they can understand much more complicated language when supported by the teacher in class. Beginner students reading independently should read a number of the easiest books before moving up in difficulty.

After you get a couple copies of the best beginner novels, I would get 1 copy of all the rest applicable for your level of classes before getting multiple copies so as to expand your title offerings as quickly as possible.

Below are my top picks from each level. There are many other books, and many of them are really good. But these are the best in my opinion, and in the general opinion of my students over the 2 years I’ve gathered their feedback.

You can find all these books through Fluency Matters, TPRS Books, or on Amazon.

Super Easy (Like 1st Read Easy)

  • Edi El Elefante by Emily Ibrahim
  • Bart Quiere Un Gato by Jeremy Jordan (Sr. Jordan) and Mike Coxon
  • Pablito El Ratón by Craig Klein Dexemple
  • La Familia De Federico Rico by Craig Klein Dexemple

Not Super Easy but still pretty easy

  • Daniel El Detective by Rebecca Landor and Niki Tottingham (Really Good)
  • Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro by Carol Gaab (Great)
  • Brandon Brown Dice La Verdad by Carol Gaab (Great)
  • Brandon Brown Y El Nuevo Houdini by Carol Gaab (Great)
  • El Escape Cubano by Mira Canion
  • Agentes Secretos Y El Mural De Picasso by Mira Canion
  • Isabela Captura Un Congo by Karen Rowan
  • Fiesta Fatal by Mira Canion (AWESOME)
  • Piratas Del Caribe Y El Mapa Secreto by Mira Canion

Bridging to level 2 / Level 2

  • La Bella Mentira by A. C. Quintero (is the 2nd book in the series. La Clase de Confessiones is the first book, but my students have complained that La Clase de Confessiones moves too slow. And Quintero summarizes the La Clase de Confessiones in the first two chapters of La Bella Mentira, so you really can just read the second book by itself. Students have reported that they like this better.)
  • Ataques de Hambre by Eric Herman
  • Superburguesas by Mike Peto (Highly recommend)
  • Noches Misteriosa En Granada by Kristy Placido
  • Billy Y Las Botas by Sr. Wooly (AWESOME)
  • La Casa De Las Dentistas by Sr. Wooly (AWESOME)
  • Esperanza by Carol Gaab (Great)
  • Casi Me Mata El Celular by A. C. Quintero
  • Carlos Santana by Ben Lev
  • Piratas Del Caribe Y El Triángulo De Bermuda by Carol Gaab and Christine Tiday
  • La Llorona de Mazatlan by Katie Baker (Really Good)

Most of the books above this level get pretty interesting because expanding vocab helps so much to make books interesting with more vocab. However, my favorites for advanced students are:

  • Las Tres Pruebas by Andrew Snider
  • Piratas Del Caribe Y El Triángulo De Bermuda by Carol Gaab and Christine Tiday
  • Anabela Por Siempre by Christine Tiday I only found on Amazon)
  • La Puerta al Sahara by Christine Tiday (currently only in paperback on com)
  • La Rosa de los Vientos by Christine Tiday (currently only in paperback on com)
  • Capitán de los Vientos by Christine Tiday (currently only in paperback on com)
  • Sueños de la Isla (Baseball book) by JJ Hill
  • Los Sobrevivientes by Bryan Kandal
  • Vida Y Muerte En La Mara Salvatrucha by Anonomous Author
  • Casa Dividida by Chris Mercer
  • La Hija Del Sastre por Carrie Toth and Carol Gaab



A note on books for Heritage Learners:

Most likely, Heritage Learner classes are going to have a tremendous breadth of reading levels in the L2, possibly from illiterate fluent speakers all the way up to college-level readers. It is a great idea to have HLs start out reading really easy books to build their confidence.

After that, you will need to have a variety of authentic texts to offer stronger Heritage Learner readers. Mike Peto talks about this extensively here and in his book for teachers of HLs called Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish 2nd Edition on pgs. 262-269. And there’s a Facebook group dedicated to teachers of HL here.