8 Ways to Boost Your Reading Skills in Spanish


BY Ana

May 13, 2017

Follow Us Now

Reading is such a great activity. It’s relaxing, educational, and a great escape from reality. Reading in Spanish is a wonderful way to do all of that, and improve your language ability at the same time! Want to get great at reading in Spanish? Read on for some fun, easy tips to help you get there.


What will reading in Spanish do for you?

Reading in Spanish will open a ton of doors for you. You will be able to experience an entirely new world of literature. Spanish-speaking countries have produced some amazing works of literary genius. Seriously, you have no idea what’s in store for you. Everything from romance to adventure, historical to contemporary, you’ve got it!

Not only will you suddenly have a whole world of books just waiting to be discovered, but your language ability will greatly improve as well. Reading in Spanish has a lot of great benefits. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Your vocabulary will improve
  • Your grammar/ syntax will improve
  • You will be able to understand a lot more when traveling around a Spanish-speaking country (signs, menus, etc.)
  • You will learn so much about Spanish culture

So, if you’re serious about becoming great at reading in Spanish, here are a few things you can do to help you achieve that goal.

1 . Start with the little books…

Don’t assume that you can just pick up the Quijote and start flipping through the 1200 pages effortlessly. We have to be realistic here. Remember, you’re still young as far as your language abilities go. So, don’t be discouraged if you have to start small. It’s recommended, and will ensure that you don’t become too overwhelmed or frustrated.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start with children’s books. Of course, that’s a great option. And, come on, who doesn’t love a book with pictures?

But, if you’re looking for something a little more substantial and less colorful, try reading some short stories. There are a lot out there, and finding them won’t be a problem at all.

Here’s a list of suggested novels for different levels. You can check it out here.

Poetry is also an option. Of course, this is more complicated, as poetry often is. But, it’s still a good way to acquire new vocabulary, and familiarize yourself with some of the nuances of the language.

2. Read books you have already read in English

Have a favorite book that you just can’t put down, no matter how many times you read it? Try reading it in Spanish to 1) switch things up a little and 2) make for an easier read. 
You already know what’s going to happen, and you are familiar with the storyline and characters. This ensues that you don’t get lost, or confused, and also really helps with your vocabulary. You won’t need to look up those tricky words as often, because you’ll already know what they mean!

3. Read Books with Translations

With some books you’ll find the translation is written right there, on the opposite page, making your reading experience easier. This is a great option, as it saves you time pulling out the dictionary or opening up wordreference.com (a wonderful sight that, if it’s not already will quickly become your best friend). 
One reason why this is such a wonderful tool is that oftens just looking up one word isn’t enough for you to really get the feel of the entire text. If you find that you’re reading and re-reading a paragraph over and over, and still unclear what you’re supposed to be taking away from it, the translation will quickly clear that up for you.

4. Listen to the book while you read it

Books with audio will help you in so many ways! You will hear the pronunciation, accent, and flow of what the passage is supposed to sound like. This will not only help it come more alive in your mind, but it will also help to make it stick a little better in your memory. You will be applying not only visual forms of learning, but auditory as well. This is sure to have some great, long-term impact, such as these books from My Daily Spanish.

5. Read a book with pictures

No, not a picture book–but, again, if you like that, go for it! 
Reading books with illustrations helps to make the story really come to life. It helps to make the characters more real, and the plot more personal. Reading books that have illustrations scattered throughout will help you not only check to make sure you know what’s happening but also help to make what you’re reading sticks in your mind a little more.

6. Take notes

One way to check your comprehension and make sure that what you’re reading is really making sense to you is to take notes on what you read along the way.

A lot of times, we get so focused on figuring out the language, that we forget to actually enjoy the story! After you finish a chapter, jot down the major events that took place. This will force you to not only dive deeper into the story, but it will also require that you go back and remember any important vocabulary that’s essential to the plot and make yourself check your reading comprehension. 
Also, a good thing to do is to take note of any tricky vocabulary you’ve learned along the way. Write those words down, and even try to put them into a sentence of your own. Using the word in your own context will really help to take it from short to long term memory.

7. This word, that word… words

As you read, especially at the beginning, you’ll more than likely come across a whole slew of new words. This is where you have to make a very important decision:

Do I understand this word because of the context? Or, do I need to look it up to fully grasp what’s happening?

If you stop to look up every single word you don’t know as you make your way through your Spanish books, it’ll probably take hours just to get through one chapter! That is not only very dull and extremely frustrating, it also interrupts the process of reading.

You can’t focus on the story if you’re setting the book down every three words to reach for the dictionary. In addition, deducing the meaning of words through their context will keep your mind thinking in Spanish. If you’re constantly switching back and forth between English and Spanish, your brain won’t be able to settle comfortably into its “Spanish mode.”

The science behind this is complex, and we’re not here for that, anyways. But, think of it like multi-tasking. If your mind isn’t completely focused on one thing, the end result is an inability to fully focus on either.

The best option is to try to figure out the meaning of the word itself, without depending on the English translation to help you. This will make the word stay in your mind longer, and not interrupt your reading process. 
However, if you find that one words seems to be important, and repeating regularly, you may want to look that one up!

8. Read what you love

Reading what you’re interested will make sure that you still enjoy the somewhat frustrating process of reading in Spanish (especially at the beginning). You’ll pay more attention to what you’re reading and learn the vocabulary surrounding the topics you enjoy talking about!

Here’s some ideas for places you can find great, authentic Spanish language materials:


Reading is a wonderful way to improve your language, while entertaining you simultaneously. Reading in Spanish may seem like a huge feat, but once you get started, you will be very thankful that you did.
What do you think? Do you have any other tips or tricks that you do to make your reading go more smoothly?

About the author 

Anastasia is a Chicago, Illinois native. She began studying Spanish over 10 years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. Living in Spain since 2012, she loves Spanish tortilla, vino tinto, and anything that contains jamón ibérico.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}