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World Languages & Bilingual Children’s Books

S-Collection Home  > Find Children’s Books > S-Collection Bibliographies > World Languages & Bilingual Children’s Books

French, Spanish, German, Catalan, Navajo…While the majority of the School (S-) Collection’s children’s books are written in English, many of the 182,000 children’s books in the cataloged collection are not. Unless you know the specific title of a book, these world language books can often be difficult to find. This guide offers search strategies for finding world language titles at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and elsewhere. Generally, the world language materials that the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) are located at the Oak Street Storage Facility and are available by request only. Materials can be requested via the Library Catalog. Please ask for assistance from the SSHEL Information Desk with difficult-to-find materials and other questions.

The Champaign Public Library (200 W. Green St., 217-403-2070) and the Urbana Free Library (210 W. Green St., 217-367-4057) also collect world language children’s books.  Both libraries shelve these books with their non-fiction books, under the appropriate Dewey Decimal classification (according to language).  Feel free to contact them for assistance in locating materials in their collections.

Search the Library Catalog

One way to find books written in a specific world language (Spanish, Korean, etc.) is to search the Library Catalog by subject using the language as the subject term.  This search will result in some recent titles, but not all. Unfortunately, subject headings are not consistently assigned to world language children’s books. However, many of the world language books in the S-Collection were acquired prior to 1984 (and the arrival of an online catalog) and many older books were not assigned subject headings.  Many of these older world language books can be found by doing call number or title searches, explained later in this guide.

This guide is limited to search strategies for youth fiction and non-fiction written in world languages, rather than dictionaries or books on how to speak/write/read a world language.  Use any or all of the following subjects when searching:

  • If you are looking for a book in Spanish, try Spanish language
  • If you are looking for a bilingual book, Spanish and English, try Spanish language bilingual
  • If you are looking for a children’s book in Spanish, try Spanish language juvenile literature
  • If you are looking for textbooks to assist children learning Spanish, try Spanish language readers

If searching for a world language book on a specific subject, run an Advanced Search for the specific subject along with the appropriate phrase from above. For example, if looking for a Spanish language book on cats, use the following subject search: Cats AND Spanish language.

It is also possible to access world language children’s books by searching by title in the Library Catalog. Some reference works also provide titles of world language books. Described in the sections below, these reference books, primarily bibliographies, arrange titles in various ways: by culture, country of publication, language, subject, award-winners, or other categories.

Call Numbers

Call numbers are groups of numbers and letters that classify library items by subject. Items are arranged on shelves by call number. SSHEL uses both the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems.

Sometimes, when you do not have a specific title, the only way to find world language fiction (published prior to 1984) is to search by call number. First, determine the appropriate Dewey Decimal classification for the language by looking at the list below. These are the beginnings of call numbers assigned to some world language children’s books in the S- Collection.  These numbers can also be used to search the library’s general collection.  Remember that a call number search will not unearth recent world language fiction in the S- Collection, as much of the new material has been classified as fiction under the author’s last name.

African languages
Modern Greek
North American native languages


S.028.8088 Sp312 1995
Special Collections in Children’s Literature: An International Directory. 1995.
Provides information on special collections of children’s literature; 300 of which are located in the United States and 119 in forty other countries. A subject index lists collections with strengths in world language children’s books, as well as those with strengths in specific world languages and language groups.

General Bibliographies

011.62 B4712
Bibliography of Children’s Books in India.1983.
Extensive list of books published in India prior to 1982. Arranged by language and age level. Transliterates titles in twelve Indian languages: Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

S.027.62505 JO 14:2 Win 2001
“Bilingual Books for Children: Prepared by the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 International Relations Committees.” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries v. 14 pp. 32-7.
Bibliography of books currently available with bilingual text, published between 1995 and 1999 or currently in print. Books chosen for this list met the following criteria: (1) the books should be suitable for children up to age fourteen, (2) represent a complete translation, and (3) contain high literary quality in each language.

S.011.62 M615o
Our Family, Our Friends, Our World: An Annotated Guide to Significant Multicultural Books for Children and Teenagers. 1992.
Provides substantial annotations of some bilingual materials in French, Spanish, Japanese, Kiswahili, Russian, and other languages. Access titles through the Subject Index, e.g., “French language—Bilingual materials.”

CURR. 370.117 AMLIBA2001
Venture Into Cultures: A Resource Book of Multicultural Materials and Programs. 2nd ed. 2001
Contains culture-specific programming ideas and bibliographies. While most books are English-language titles, this resource also includes books in Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Persian. Title index by culture. Also available online in full text.

Language Specific Bibliographies

The following titles are written in English, with the exception of a few bibliographies of Spanish language materials. The University of Illinois Library also holds many bibliographies written in other world languages, which can be found by doing a subject search in the Library Catalog (e.g., “Children’s literature, Russian Bibliography”). For older titles, you may also try a title keyword search in the Library Catalog (e.g., use the Russian or French words for “children’s literature” and “bibliography” in a title search).


S.895.109 Sco83c
Chinese Popular Literature and the Child. 1980.
Discusses the historical tradition from which twentieth-century Chinese children’s literature arose, naming important titles and authors (in transliterated Chinese) in the text. Majority of titles published before 1970. Includes bibliography and index.


S.011.62 C16 1988
Canadian Books for Young People = Livres canadiens pour la jeunesse. 4th ed. 1988.
Selective, annotated bibliography of both English and French language titles published in Canada. Arranged by broad subject categories. Also includes reference books, publishers’ series, award books and professional media. Author and title indexes.


Z2114.5 B58 2014
Handbuch der Österreichischen Kinder-und Jugendbuchautorinnen = Handbook of Austrian Children’s Authors. 2014.
Biographies and bibliographies of well-and-lesser-known Austrian children’s authors are listed alphabetically with the intent to support research on historical and current authors, titles, and themes.


Q.028.5492 W92L
Reshimat Sefarim Le-Sifriyot Ivriyot = List of Books for Standard Hebrew Libraries.1957. Written in English and Hebrew.
Although this source lists primarily non-juvenile titles written in Hebrew, pages 40-44 offer bibliographic citations of over 250 Hebrew children’s books.


016.8956 L616j
Japanese Children’s Books at the Library of Congress: A Bibliography of Books from the Postwar Years, 1946-1985. 1987.
Annotated bibliography of 304 Japanese children’s books and periodicals held by the Library of Congress. Most were published between 1946-1985, although reprints of earlier works are also included. Arranged chronologically, each entry includes the title in Japanese characters, transliterated Japanese, and English translation. Award winners and intended age of audience are noted. Author, artist and transliterated Japanese title indexes.

S.011.62 J27 1987
Japanese Children’s Books of International Interest. 1987.
Annotated bibliography of 126 Japanese children’s books, arranged by type (picture books, longer fiction, non-fiction, etc.) Also includes list of awards, index of prize winning books, index of Japanese titles (transliterated), index of English titles, index of authors/illustrators.


S.011.62 D1521b
Bilingual Children’s Books in English and Spanish: An Annotated Bibliography, 1942 through 2001. 2003.
Annotates bilingual Spanish-English children’s books, arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name and then by book title. Each annotation also lists review sources for the title when available. Includes an introduction in both English and Spanish about the history of bilingual Spanish/English publications. Indexed by Co-author, Illustrator, Translator, Title, Series, Award, Subject (English) and Subject (Spanish).

Z718.2U6 C46 2011
Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries. 2011.
This book offers a valuable guide for evaluating and selecting quality Latino children’s literature and using these materials effectively to meet the diverse literacy needs of this growing population. A Resources section at the end offers lists of recommended books, bilingual and in Spanish, for various ages and in selected genres.

025.2 W119I
Libros Esenciales: Building, Marketing, and Programming a Core Collection of Spanish Language Children’s Materials. 2007.
Chapter 3 of this book recommends books to form a core collection of Spanish language and Spanish/English bilingual materials; the list is arranged by format and age level and includes brief citations. Chapter 9 lists other notable Spanish language books for children and Chapter 10 lists Major Hispanic Book Award winners (not all titles are in Spanish). The text also includes a wealth of ideas for using and selecting Spanish language children’s materials. General index, author index, and title index are included.

372.405 RE v.54:no. 5-8
“Los Ninos y el Mundo: Children’s Books in Spanish From Around the World.” The Reading Teacher v. 54 no. 7 (2001) pp. 692-698.
The author provides an annotated list of books in Spanish about other cultures, such as Australia, Guatamala, and Japan, and offers ideas for their use in the classroom.

016.808899282 M325m 2005
Multicultural Picturebooks: Art for Illuminating Our World. 2005.
“Section 6: The Caribbean and Latin America” provides annotations of approximately ten bilingual Spanish/English picture book titles.

S.011.62 Sch651r 2008
Recommended Books in Spanish for Children and Young Adults, 2004-2008. 2009.
A listing of high quality books in Spanish for children from preschool through twelfth grade. Books are arranged by subject and then alphabetically by author’s last name. Titles have been translated into English and an extensive English annotation (including recommended grade level) is included. Includes Author, Title, and Subject indexes. Previous editions of this title cover books published in earlier years and can be found in SSHEL Storage.

011.62097295 P653
Un siglo de literatura infantil puertorriquena = A Century of Puerto Rican Children’s Literature. 1987.
Written in Spanish and English. This history of Puerto Rican children’s literature (1876-1978) also includes a “catalog” of Spanish language books, arranged both by author and by title.

Online Resources

  • International Children’s Digital LibraryThe International Children’s Digital Library is an online collection of children’s picture books from around the world. Currently containing over 4,619 books in 59 languages, this University of Maryland project aspires to broaden international access to picture books through its colorful and functional collection of digital books. You can locate books based on age appropriateness, length, and subject.


Often, bibliographies of world language or bilingual children’s books can be found in journals. Search ERIC (EBSCO, OCLC, ProQuest), the major education database, or databases such as Library and Information Science Source (LISS), to find specific articles or bibliographies. Combine subject descriptors such as “children’s literature” (or “childrens literature” [no apostrophe] in ERIC) and “bibliography,” and “bilingual” or “world languages.”  Also browse the journals below.

026.105 BOB
Quarterly journal issued by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Contains articles on children’s books published in countries around the world. Each issue includes a review column, “International Children’s Books of Note.” Recent issues since 2009 are online only.

S.028.505 HO
Horn Book Magazine
Bi-monthly journal containing articles and book reviews. Many issues include a review column called “Noteworthy Children’s Books in Spanish.” Online issues from 1990.

S.016.80989282 H783
The Horn Book Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Books. 
Bi-annual journal providing brief reviews of children’s books. Arranged by broad subject category. Many issues include selected world language books published in the United States, primarily Spanish language books.