Raising Bilingual Niños: Tip #3

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges

Reading is a big deal at my house. Everywhere you look are stacks of books and it gives me so much happiness to see them there waiting for me. Likewise, my boys have hundreds of books for themselves. I’ve read to my niños every night since they were babies and taught them to read before they stepped a foot into school.

Left: My favorite Spanish alphabet book, “F is for Fiesta” by Susan Middleton Elya / Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Without going into too much terminology, the method I used to teach my boys how to read employed the use of flash cards and what are referred to as “High Frequency Words” or “Sight Words“. These are the most commonly used words in a language. By practicing with the flash cards, (showing the child the card and saying the word), they soon memorize it and learn to read it on “sight”. (This is in addition to teaching them the alphabet and phonics first.)

This worked well for my kids and so, after practicing with them in the Silabarios, (Spanish phonics books), over the summer, I am now teaching them to read “High Frequency Words” in Spanish.


I made the flash cards and you can use them too. To download the PDF of the 175 most common words in Spanish for your niño go HERE. Once you’ve downloaded it, open the PDF in Adobe, print (I recommend using card stock, but regular printer paper works just fine.) – Cut them into individual cards and then they’re ready to use!

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!” – Betty Smith/A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


  1. I will download and print this YA!!!!! I need my Cipote to start reading more in Spanish.
    Nuevamente…. gracias Tracy!

  2. When I tutor little kids I make flash cards just like yours! Then I give 5 to each kid and they have to use those 5 words that day. When they do, I add a star to their chart! They really enjoy it!

    • @ MJ – That’s a great tip. When I start with a new pack of flash cards, I also break them down into smaller packs so it isn’t as overwhelming. My kids also like them because they’re very competitive. They like to see who can get more right. LOL.

    • @ MJ – Yes, please, go ahead and link it. Everybody should feel free to link to the flash cards or to E-mail the link to friends. I want people to make use of them :)

    • @ Susan – Just keep it fun and maybe they won’t realize you’re trying to teach them something. Ask if they want to play a game with you. My kids are so competitive they turn ANYTHING into a game, (with winners and losers, lol, but that’s their doing, not mine!)

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