Author: Selected by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

4-Year-Olds Poetry/Songs

With English adaptations by Alice Schertle, this bilingual collection of traditional rhymes has been passed down from generation to generation. The rhymes celebrate childhood and Spanish and Latin American heritage. From playing dress-up to making tortillas, and from rising at daybreak to falling asleep, the subjects of these 29 rhymes are sure to delight young readers.

Before, During and After Reading

Letter Knowledge

Introduce the book. Read the title and subtitle of the book, sweeping your finger under the words as you read them. Explain that these nursery rhymes have been told for many years, and Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy decided to make a book of them. Tell your child that the illustrator, Viví Escrivá, drew the pictures.  

Oral Language

Discuss the illustrations. The illustrations on the front and back covers have many interesting details. Take time to talk about the illustrations with your child.   

Use the glossary to define new words. Scan the glossary on page 126 so you can flip to that page during your read-aloud, when you want to share the definition of a vocabulary word. Share that the glossary lists the new words in the book and tells you what they mean.

Phonological Awareness

Listen for rhyming words. Tell your child that many nursery rhymes have rhyming words in them. Give examples of rhyming words, like hat-cat and house-mouse. Encourage your child to listen carefully and try to pick out some rhyming words in the nursery rhymes as you read.

Letter Knowledge

What is the difference between English and Spanish? Show your child that each of these nursery rhymes has been written in Spanish and in English.

Find letters. Ask your child to find specific letters on a page. For example, you might ask him or her to find the uppercase or lowercase letter C on page 16 or the uppercase or lowercase letter S on page 43.

Oral Language

Ask questions. On pages 8 and 9, ask your child what he or she thinks birds do during the early morning hours.

Act out nursery rhymes. Have your child act out some of the nursery rhymes.  

Explain new vocabulary. If your child is not familiar with some of the vocabulary used in this book, explain those words and concepts. For example, your child may not be familiar with a piñata. Explain that a piñata is filled with candy, hung from a tree and hit with a stick until it breaks and the candy drops out. Supplement your definitions from a children’s dictionary. Explore these words and concepts further by finding other books about them at the library or bookseller.  

Teach your child nursery rhymes and finger plays. Some of the nursery rhymes in this book are also great for finger plays. On pages 18 and 19, add actions to your reading. Reread it a few times so you and your child can do the actions together.  

Phonological Awareness

Focus on rhyming. Take some opportunities to stop and focus your child on the rhyming words. Have your child repeat pairs of rhyming words with you.  


Beginning Writing

Create an illustration. Go back to a nursery rhyme and reread it. Give your child some paper and crayons and ask her to make an illustration that goes with this rhyme. Give your child suggestions about what to include in the picture.  For example, if you’ve chosen De colores/Many Colors on pages 22 and 23, you may suggest that she include a rainbow, grass, flowers,and birds.   

Phonological Awareness and Beginning Writing

Create your own nursery rhymes. Say a one-syllable word to your child and ask her to give you a rhyming word. For example, if you say “boy,” your child might say “toy.” Do this a few times and write down the pairs of rhyming words. Then, you and your child can create your own nursery rhyme with the word pairs you’ve written. For example, with the words boy, toy, bear and chair, you might think of the following rhyme:  

In a room sat a little boy
who listened to music and played with a toy.
He gave a hug to his cuddly bear
and sat it on the tiny chair.  
Be sure to write it down so you and your child can repeat it and think of finger plays or actions for it!  

Have your child watch you write and talk about the letters and words that you are writing. Involve your child in the writing process by asking her to write some of the letters, underline the title of the nursery rhyme and write her name as one of the authors.


Are you raising a dual language learner? Read more about language and pre-reading development in children who grow up with more than one language. Or, take the Reading BrightStart! Preschool Reading Screener, and track your child's progress on the path to reading readiness.