My Big Barefoot Book of English/French/Spanish Words

The "Words Books" are three largely identical books: My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words, My Big Barefoot Book of French and English Words, and My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words. Wonderful Words has the words in English only, and the other two have them in English and French or Spanish. All three have the same illustrations, beautifully done by Sophie Fatus.

 My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words cover image
 My Big Barefoot Book of French and English Words
 My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words

The books feature two bi-racial (white and Asian) children, Sam and Maya, as well as their parents and grandfather (who seems to live with them) going about their day. With a few easy changes, you can make it a family with two dads and an older sister (or aunt, or nanny), a polyamorous family, or a step family. There are probably other family types that I'm not thinking of right now that could be included as well. Or you can just ask the child(ren) you're reading to, "Who is that?" and go with what they say (assuming you know those words in French or Spanish, although if you don't, you can just give them a random name to go by). Because this is a Barefoot book, there is plenty of diversity and thus no real need to add your own "extras" on top, but I personally want my children to understand that any family that loves each other is a wonderful family, so I just kinda shoehorn that in wherever I can.

 Bilingual Spanish/English illustration from Barefoot Books' My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish Words

My two-year-old was absolutely obsessed with this book for a few months, and my now-5-year-old is in a French immersion school, so it's wonderful for him as well. And it's actually been useful for me, because although I speak French, I was lacking in some areas, such as being able to name all the things you might find on a construction site. (Did you know that "une grue" is a crane? Now you do!) And I love how the bilingual versions have the English words as well, because I previously had no idea what a "Scottish croft" was.

 My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words illustration of clothing

I've read several "picture dictionary" type books for children. I might be biased, but the Barefoot Word books are my favorite by far. There is so much diversity--both in terms of the people you encounter in the book and in the words/images themselves. Many books feature grocery stores and post offices on their streets, but Barefoot adds computer repair shops, animal shelters, and a sushi bar.

 My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words illustration of a street, featuring diverse religions

I feel like the vocabulary presented is all extremely relevant. I love the "emotions" spread (which is a particular hit for many children on the autism spectrum), the playground page (a child using a walker and someone having hummus for their snack? So our family!), and the aforementioned construction site page, since I have spent, quite literally, at least a hundred hours watching my boys watch heavy equipment and people with hammers. (We still talk, fondly, of when they repaved our road. A day made in hot, smelly heaven for my kids!) And it wouldn't be a Barefoot book without a bit of environmentalism thrown in, which we could all use more of these days.

 My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words save the earth garden illustration
 My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words children's literature transportation illustration

The book is set in a modern, urban environment, but it cleverly uses daydreams, books the children are reading, and questions (where would you like to live? What do you want to be when you grow up?) to include a very expansive vocab set.

 My Big Barefoot Book of French and English Words, illustration from bilingual children's literature of an outdoor market

In a very fun few pages, we go to a library and learn all those words, and then venture into our imaginations to discuss story characters. I mean, a book with mermaids and pipe cleaners should be a hit with any toddler!

 Bilingual children's literature illustration from My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words featuring storybook imaginary characters.

In case you've not noticed, every spread also features a black cat and a green crocodile (named "Crunchy"). Finding them can be sort of tricky sometimes, and is a continual pastime for my boys...even after they have most locations completely memorized!

 Bilingual children's literature, illustration from My Big Barefoot Book of French and English Words, featuring seek-and-find images of the countryside

The age range on these books is 2-11. I highly recommend buying Wonderful Words if you have a toddler or child struggling with language, or our French or Spanish versions if you, like me, are a fan of bilingualism.