World Language Titles for Kids Recommended by the Teen Reading Ambassadors

By Rachel Roseberry, Manager, Young Adult Literacy Programs
April 9, 2021

The New York Public Library’s World Literature Festival celebrates books and writers from around the world and reflects the languages spoken in our communities. Discover what our patrons are reading in different languages, resources the Library offers, free online events, book recommendations, and more.

NYPL’s Teen Reading Ambassadors program brings together 10th–12th grade students from across New York City to learn about the Library and help further its mission to inspire lifelong learning in others, particularly young children. Many of the Ambassadors speak and read languages other than English, and to help celebrate the World Literature Festival they have recommended titles for kids ages 6–12 in different languages! World languages featured below include Spanish, Arabic, Polish, French, Bengali, and Chinese.

Soñadores by Yuyi Morales, traducción de Teresa Mlawer (Spanish)

Recommended by Yesenia L.

The love of your mother is like no other. Willing to take you on a colorful adventure and discovering a new path along the way. This new place is too big to get used to, but not impossible. Even when you encounter difficulties, your mother is always there to comfort you and make you feel safe in her arms. But when the world wants to shut you out, you find a new door of opportunity. You find yourself entering a world where there is no limit to your imagination. You have found the place of your dreams and opened your mind to a whole new world. Finding that there are other people like you and the journey was worth it. Seeking comfort from this place that feels like home and creating your own story. Follow along in a place unimaginable and learn the unconditional love a mother could have for her child to create a better future.

Ningún amor se compara con el de una madre. Dispuesto a llevarte en una aventura llena de colores brillosos y descubrir un camino nuevo durante el paseo. Este nuevo lugar es muy grande para acostumbrarse a él, pero no es imposible. Y aunque se encuentren dificultades, tu madre siempre estará ahí para consolarte y hacerte sentir seguro en sus brazos. Pero cuando el mundo te quiere cerrar la puerta, encuentras otra puerta llena de oportunidad. Te encuentras a ti mismo entrando en un mundo en donde la imaginación no tiene límite. Has encontrado el lugar de tus sueños y has abierto tu mente a un nuevo mundo. Encuentras a otras personas similares a ti y realizas que el viaje valió la pena. Buscas la consolación de un lugar que se siente como en casa y quieres crear tu propia historia. Sigue en un lugar inimaginable y aprende del amor incondicional que una madre tiene para su hijo para poder crear un futuro mejor. 

La plage dans la nuit  by Elena Ferrante, translated by Elsa Damien (French)

Recommended by Natalie S.

La plage dans la nuit, or The Beach at Night, is a haunting and reflective short story written by Elena Ferrante and translated into French by Elsa Damien. It is narrated by a doll named Celina, who was left behind at the beach one day by her five-year-old owner Mati (who seems to have recently replaced her with a new kitten). As she spends hours lying half-buried in the sand, she cannot help but hope that someone will come for her. But no one does. The story covers her frightening adventures that night, from dealing with a scary beach attendant and his rake to being swept out to sea and nearly drowning, and more. The story is equally fascinating as it is terrifying. On par with a piece from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, macabre themes are artfully woven into the text and fabricate an allegory for the complex feelings of jealousy, loneliness, and abandonment. Older readers will certainly find deeper meanings in the narrative. The beautiful and detailed illustrations create a cold and solitary atmosphere, further emphasizing Celina’s fear that she will be lost forever. But an odd and unexpected twist facilitates her reunion with Mati just as the sun rises. Despite the nightmarish ordeal that she has just endured, it is the start of a new day and Celina is home.

The Beach at Night, ou La plage dans la nuit, est une conte courte reflective et lancinante écrit par Elena Ferrante et traduit en français par Elsa Damien. Elle est racontée par une poupée qui s’appelle Celina, qui été délaissée a la plage un jour par sa propriétaire Mati qui a cinq ans (il semble qu’elle avait récemment replacé elle avec un nouveau chaton). Pendant qu'elle passe des heures couchant à moitié enterré dans le sable, elle ne peut qu'espérer que quelqu’un viendra pour elle. Mais personne ne le fait. L’histoire couvre ses aventures terrifiantes ce nuit, de gérant avec un gardien de la plage effrayant et son râteau, à étant balayée à la mer et presque noyante, et de plus. L’histoire est aussi fascinante que terrifiante. A égalité avec une pièce des contes de fées de frères Grimm, les thèmes macabres sont tissés astucieusement dans le texte et fabriquent une allégorie pour les émotions complexes de la jalousie, de la solitude et de l’abandon. Les lecteurs plus âgés trouveront certainement un sens plus profond dans le narratif. Les illustrations belles et détaillées créeront une atmosphère froide et isolante, soulignant de plus la peur de Celina qu’elle sera perdue pour toujours. Mais une tournure étrange et inattendue facilite ses retrouvailles avec Mati jusqu'au le soleil se lève. Malgré l'épreuve cauchemardesque qu’elle a enduré, c’est le commencement d’un nouveau jour et Celina est chez elle.

¡Los Zombis no comen verduras! por Jorge Lacera y Megan Lacera, ilustraciones de Jorge Lacera (Spanish)

Recommended by Jade M.

Mo loves vegetables. This wouldn't be weird at all except for the fact that he is a zombie! Mo Romero is a zombie kid just like all the others! He loves dancing at night with his mom and chasing humans with all the other zombies. His parents say differently. He doesn't like arm-panadas, nor rice and spleens. You see he is obsessed with tomatoes and peppers! Mo can’t deny how much he loves eating vegetables, but he can't see how his vegetarian lifestyle and life as a zombie can come together when no one else is like him. ¡Los Zombis No Comen Verduras! by Megan and Jorge Lacera talks about acceptance, the power of family, and how to love yourself. 

Mo ama los vegetales. No sería raro excepto el es un zombi! Mo Romero es un zombi como cualquier otro. A él le encanta bailar en la noche con su mamá y perseguir a los humanos. Sus padres dirían diferente. A él no le gustan las empanadas de pati-panza, ni le gusta el arroz con tendones. Pero tiene un obsession con los tomates y pepinos. Mo no puede dejar los vegetales pero también no ve cómo el puede ser un zombi si nadie más tiene su preferencia. ¡Los Zombis No Comen Verduras! por Megan y Jorge Lacera habla de la aceptación, el poder de la familia y cómo amar tu mismo.

La Luna Mango por Diane de Anda, ilustrado por Sue Cornelison, traducido por Giovanna Chavez (Spanish)

Recommended by Yuneydy P.

Has your mom or dad had to leave por unos papeles? It can be tough to talk about pero no tienes que ir por eso solo, you don’t have to go through that alone. Marciela’s papa spends his last night with her looking at the moon. He is taken away from her and, like a lot of other kids, maybe even you, it was really hard to go through. Everything becomes so different without her dad. She misses him a lot y le duele el estomago when she looks at the moon and remembers how they called the moon un mango, but then she has hope. Even though she’s sad, Marciela remembers all the great memories she has of her father like how he yelled at her soccer games and pushed her in the columpios. She shows us that no matter where someone close to you is in the world, you see the same moon y todavia puede amarlos.

Tu mama o tu papa a tenido que irse por unos papeles? Es difícil tener que hablar de eso pero no tienes que ir por eso solo. El papa de Marciela pasa la noche con ella mirando a la luna. Su papa es forzado a partir con ella y como muchos ninos, talvez tu mismo, fue una experiencia penosa. Sin su padre, todo es muy diferente. Ella lo extrana mucho y le duele el estomago cuando mira a la luna y recuerda como lo llamaron un mango. Pero tiene esperanza. Aunque este triste, Marciela recuerda toda las buenas memoria que tiene con su papa, como gritaba en los juegos de futbol y como la empujaba en los columpios. Ella nos ensena que no importa donde la persona que quieres esta en el mundo, todavía ven la misma luna mango y todavía puedes amarlos.

Pora na pomidora (w zupie) by Justyna Bednarek, illustrated by Daria Solak (Polish)

Recommended by Victoria S.

Do you smell that? Is it something sweet? Something salty? In Pora na pomidora (w zupie), written by Justyna Bednarek and illustrated by Daria Solak, a young girl named Eufrozyna shows us how to make tomato soup. After buying her ingredients, she follows a yummy recipe. Do you also like to cook? If so, follow along with a guardian to make this tasty meal. Beware of onions though! Many large and colorful illustrations help bring this kitchen to life. You can even learn about some new ingredients right here! Have you heard of basil before? Eufrozyna’s soup is full of flavor, but what happens to it at the end? Does she enjoy the soup? Does she spill it? Pick up the book to find out! Bonus: for an extra tasty treat, try spelling out the words in the text-boxes! You might just learn something cool! 

Czujesz ten zapach? Czy to coś słodkiego? Coś słonego? W książce Pora na pomidora (w zupie), napisanej przez Justynę Bednarek i zilustrowanej przez Darię Solak, mała dziewczynka imieniem Eufrozyna pokazuje nam, jak ugotować zupę pomidorową. Po zakupieniu składników posługuje się przepysznym przepisem. Czy ty też lubisz gotować? Jeśli tak, czytaj dalej z opiekunem, aby przyrządzić ten smaczny posiłek. Ale uważaj na cebulę! Duże i kolorowe ilustracje pomagają ożywić kuchnię. Możesz nawet dowiedzieć się o nowych składnikach właśnie tutaj! Czy słyszałeś o bazylii? Zupa Eufrozyny jest bardzo smaczna, ale co się z nią w końcu stanie? Czy Eufrozyna zje zupę? Czy rozleje? Przeczytaj książkę aby się dowiedzieć! Bonus: na ekstra smaczną przekąskę, spróbuj przeliterować słowa w polach tekstowych! Może nawet nauczysz się czegoś nowego!

The Sky is Raining Food by Taghreed Najjar, illustrated by Ahmed Kamel (Arabic)

Recommended by Hajar B.

Do you have a pet? The story The Sky is Raining Food, written by Taghreed Najjar and illustrated by Ahmed Kamel starts off with Fares in a pet store asking his mother for a pet dog, his mother says no but surprises him with a little turtle instead. Fares is very happy and excited to take care of his new friend. He plays with him, talks to him, and feeds him. One day Zohlof gets lost in the park...Through the brightly colorful pictures we see both Fares’s and Zohlof’s adventure looking for each other. In Zohlof’s fast-paced, funny, and exciting adventure he waits and waits for food to rain from the sky like it did when he was with Fares but alas it doesn't. Instead, he meets new animals and makes new friends. Fares is upset and scared that he no longer has his pet turtle and promises to do his best to find him. Do you think Zohlof will find his way home?

 هَل تَمتَلك حَيواناً اليفاً؟ القِصَّة "انَّ السَّمَاءَ تُمطِرُ طَعَاماً" تَأليف تغريد نجار ورُسوم أحمد كامل تَبدا في دُكان الحيوانات الاليفَة حيث طَلبَ فارِس من امه شِرَاء كلب. لَكن امِه رَفَضَتْ الفِكرَة الاَّ انَها فجئتهُ بسُلحف صَغير عوداً عن دالك.  سُرَّ فارس كثيراً بهذا واتَّخَدَهُ صديقاً له وسَمَّاهُ زُحْلُف. اخذ يَعتَنى به ويَلعَبُ ويَتَحَدث مَعَهُ ويَطعِمُه. في يَومٍ من الأيام أضَاعَ فَارس زُحْلُف في الحَديقة, حَزَنَ كَثيراً وأَخذَ يَبحَثُ عَنهُ. من خِلال الصُورْ الحَية والمُلَونَة نَرَى فَارِسْ وزُحْلُف في مُغَامَرة بَحث عن بَعضِهِمَا بَعضْ. خِلالَ مُغَامراتْ زُحْلُف المُشَوقة انتظَارَ أن يَأتِيه الطَعَام مِن السَماء إلىَّ أن صَدِيقه العُصفور اخبرهُ ان السَماء لا تَُمطِرُ طَعَاماً. من جِهة أُخرى كَان فَارس خَائفاً أن لا يرى صَدِيقهُ زُحْلف مَرة اُخرى. هَل تَظُن أَن زُحلُف سَيجِدُ طَرِيقهُ الى البَيت؟

উপরের পৃথিবী , নীচে পৃথিবী by পদ্মপর্ণা ঘোষ, illustrated by Sunaina Coellho, translated by Sanghamitra Ghosh (Bengali)

Recommended by Ibnath O.


The World Above, The World Below is a creative and wholesome book about a child who discovers the world above her and is excited about what she has found. Fatima is a child who reads under a tree all the time; however, her mother warns her about never climbing up the trees because the world above her is dangerous. One particular day, a small squirrel drops a book he was reading on her head. The squirrel is scared of Fatima because his mother warned him about the world below-just like Fatima's mother had warned her about the world above. Fatima conquers her fear and journeys up the tree by tying balloons on her waist and floating to the top. She returns the book to the squirrel and they become friends. Humans from below and animals from above are finally in harmony.

My favorite part of the book was when the squirrel complimented Fatima's ribbons, and in return, Fatima tied one of her beautiful yellow ribbons to the squirrel's tails. The images of the book are simple yet detailed. The animals have expressions and a lot of personalities which children will enjoy. This book is meant for 11-12-year-olds due to the difficulty of the words and understanding the story's inner message. Overall it is a book about conquering fears and discovering something new. It's a wonderful children's book for mid-level readers. 

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder written and illustrated by Nie Jun (Chinese)

Recommended by Tony C. 


A great book that shows many types of morals. The author talks about a child's life who lives with her grandfather. The child wants to become a swimmer but the boys in the swimming gym make fun of her because she is a girl. The book contains 4 different stories, so you get so many stories in this amazing book. Like for example, the first story teaches the reader not to give up no matter what others think of you. This teaches kids an amazing lesson about never giving up no matter what others think of you. At the end of the first song, the girl proves her haters wrong and becomes an amazing swimmer by swimming through the sky. I highly recommend this book because it teaches children morals, and you will learn something from each story.

"聂峻的《老街的童话》是一本伟大的著作,它展示了多种类型的道德观。作者讲述了一个与祖父住在一起的孩子的生活。这个孩子想成为一名游泳者,但因为她是个女孩子,游泳馆的男孩们都取笑她。这本书包含4个不同的故事,因此你在这本精彩的书中可以找到很多故事。例如,第一个故事告诉读者,无论别人如何看待你,都不要放弃。这教孩子们无论别人怎么看待你,你都不要放弃。在第一首歌曲的结尾,女孩给不喜欢她的人证明他们是错误的,并通过在天空中游泳而成为了不起的游泳者。 我强烈推荐这本书,因为它教会了孩子们道德,您将从每个故事中学到一些东西。"