Before we travel abroad, we like to learn about the people will we meet, the history of their country, and the places we might visit. As a family we make time to read quite a few fiction and non-fiction books to prepare us for our journey. Spain is a country known for its rich cultural history, amazing architecture, flamenco dancing, tapas, and dazzling Mediterranean beaches. These books will help set the stage for your Spanish vacation. If you’re not headed there anytime soon, at least you have found a list of books about Spain that will hopefully inspire you to travel there some day.
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Books About Spain to Read Before Your Next Trip
Best Kids Books About Spain
The Three Golden Oranges by Alma Flor Ada
In a land far away, on the other side of the mountains, next to an enchanted castle, grows a tree with three golden oranges. Three brothers — Santiago, Tomás, and Matías must travel to this tree in order to find a wife.
Once they reach their destination, they must carefully pick the oranges and bring them back to the old woman who lives by the sea. The woman’s advice is as follows: “In order to find your wives, you will need to work together. Woe to you if you do not follow my advice!” Each brother has ideas about what they want in a wife, but will they be able to put aside their differences and work together? A cute fairy tale that children will enjoy.
Fairy Tales from Spain by J. Munoz Escomez
This collection includes nineteen fantastic fairy tales for children.
The Little Matador by Julian Hector
The Little Matador comes from a long line of bullfighters, but he would rather draw a bull than fight one! Despite his father’s efforts to get him to follow tradition, the Little Matador spends most of days daydreaming and sketching animals in the meadow. One day his father decides enough is enough, and his son is dragged into the bull ring. What happens is heartwarming and will charm every listener.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
This book is one of my childhood favorites and I have fond memories of reading it with my grandma. Ferdinand is the world’s most peaceful and beloved little bull. While all of the other bulls snort, leap, and butt their heads, Ferdinand is content to just sit and smell the flowers.
Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew
Katie is very excited—her birthday is coming, and she will be having a fancy dress party! She would really like to dress up as a princess, but Grandma can’t seem to get her costume quite right. Maybe a trip to the art gallery will provide some inspiration.
Adventures of Don Quixote (Dover Children’s Thrift Classics) by Argentina Palacios
“Once, there was a man who went crazy from too much reading. He only read books about knighthood; that was the problem.” This is a charming retelling of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Young people will delight in the hilarious adventures of the idealistic would-be knight and his “squire,” Sancho Panza, as they set out to right the wrongs of the world.
Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez
His home is Catalonia, a place of jagged mountain peaks and silvery olive trees, splashed by the sparkling sea. The wild beauty of this landscape makes a deep impression and he will use the inspiration for the rest of his life.
Gaudí becomes an architect, learning the rules of form and structure that buildings are supposed to follow. Shapes and colors of the natural world still inspire him, and so he begins to work them into his buildings. Leaves climb up walls. Columns are giant animal feet. A playground bench becomes a snake. Antoni Gaudí turned nature into art, and in the process he revolutionized the world of architecture.
Picasso (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia
This book examines the life and work of the renowned twentieth-century artist, describing and giving examples from his various periods or styles.
Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte
Lola is a young Spanish girl in awe of her glamorous older sister. However, she discovers her own talent and duende, or spirit, through secret fandango lessons from her father. The text is infused with the rhythms, movements and sounds of the dance celebrating her family’s culture.
This is not a book, but it is a great tool for teaching some basic Spanish words.
Teen Stories About Spain
The Apprentice’s Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain by Melanie Little
Spain in the 15th century is a richly multicultural society in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians co-exist. Under the zealous Christian Queen Isabella however, the country abruptly becomes one of the most intolerant places on Earth.
It is in this atmosphere that the Benvenistes, a family of scribes, attempt to make a living. The family has a secret, they are conversos: Jews who converted to Christianity. Now, with neighbors and friends turned into spies, fear hangs in the air.
Bird with the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda
Set during the Spanish Civil War, sixteen-year-old Drina yearns to dance flamenco. When she dances, she forgets who she is. Why does her mother forbid her to dance, the very thing that makes her feel alive? She wonders about the secrets her mother holds, about the rumored life she had before Drina was born—a story that somehow still holds them both prisoner.
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
King Shahryar kills a new wife every night, because he worries she will stop loving him. But his new bride Shahrazad has a clever plan to save herself. Her nightly stories–of Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba, and many other heroes and villains–are so engrossing that King Shahryar has to postpone her execution again and again…
Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466 by Carolyn Meyer
When the King of Spain decides to use the marriage of his fourteen-year-old sister for political gain, young Isabel finds creative and clever ways to avoid becoming a bride until she meets the man whom she wants to wed.
Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska and Alvin Smith
Manolo was only three when his father, the great bullfighter Juan Olivar, died. But Juan is never far from Manolo’s thoughts as the entire town of Arcangel is waiting for the day Manolo will follow in his father’s footsteps.
However, Manolo is a coward, without afición, the love of the sport that gives the bullfighter the power to rise above his fear. As his first bullfight is on the horizon Manolo finds himself questioning which requires more courage: to follow in his father’s legendary footsteps or to pursue his own dreams?
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
It’s wartime, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they’ve recently bought a home. From the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners’ son, who died by drowning.
With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the strange circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called the Prince of Mist–a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden–an adventure that will change their lives forever.
Favorite Books Set in Spain for Adults
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
Born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first she is content with her children and her married life.
When tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself thrown into a battle for power against her husband. Besieged by foes on all sides, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the what has been called his greatest novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
This is the tale of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an anti-fascist unit in the Spanish mountains. It tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat and stands as one of the best war novels of all time.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Both my husband and I agree, this is our favorite Hemingway book. The Sun Also Rises is a classic example of Hemingway’s spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley.
The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love and vanishing illusions.
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
This is a great book to read if you’re visiting the Alhambra in Granada. We used it as a read aloud for our kids, but it could be read independently as well. “Tales of the Alhambra” is a collection of essays, verbal sketches and stories about the Moors and Spaniards. Through these stories we learn of the author’s journey through Andalusia, where he gives a general description of the country and people.
The collection consists of around 30 Tales about the Alhambra, the city castle of the last Moorish rulers in Al-Andalus. This is considered one of the most important works of Washington Irving.
Selected Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca
Lorca is admired the world over for the lyricism and beauty of his poetry. Spanish folk traditions of his native Andalusia and Granada, gypsy ballads, and surrealists Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel can be seen throughout Lorca’s work.
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart
No sooner had Chris Stewart set eyes on El Valero than he handed over a check. Now all he had to do was explain to his wife Ana that they were the proud owners of an isolated sheep farm in the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. That was the easy part.
Homage to Barcelona by Colm Toibin
Written with deep knowledge and affection, Homage to Barcelona is a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a great Mediterranean city. It celebrates this cosmopolitan city and its vibrant architecture and art, churches and museums, intriguing port life, and nightlife.
The story begins with the city’s founding, and huge expansion in the nineteenth century, to the lives of Gaudí, Míro, Casals, and Dalí. It also examines the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil
War, the Franco years, and the transition from dictatorship to democracy which Colm Tóibín witnessed in the 1970s.
The Shadow of the Wind (three book series) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This Gothic tale is set in Barcelona, 1945. The city is slowly healing in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, a book dealer’s son mourning the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax.
When he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.