Although those of us who are British or have our children in British schools in Madrid will already have celebrated World Book Day on 7th of March 2019 with schoolchildren dressing up as their favorite fictional character and spending the day pretending to be Harry Potter or Mog the Cat, here in Spain Book Day is celebrated on Sant Jordi (St George’s Day), the 23rd of April. A Spanish custom has made it traditional to present someone you love with a rose and a book on Sant Jordi, in a gesture which is much more than a Valentine’s Day celebration of love. This week Spaniards celebrate their love of reading with pop-up bookstalls joining stalwart booksellers in offering a wide range of books for all ages and tastes.
Spanish children read English books
British bookseller Katharine Cannings from La Hora del Cuento says that the run-up to Sant Jordi is one of the busiest times of the year for her as she combines English-language children’s book-themed workshops with the traditional semana cultural inglesa offered by most Spanish primary and secondary schools. “There is a real desire among Spanish parents to embrace English-language children’s literature in a move to make learning English less of a classroom exercise and more of a cultural gain”, explains Katharine. Readers of Kids in Madrid are welcome to contact Katharine to learn more about the work she does in international and Spanish schools. Mention Kids in Madrid to get a discount 😊.
Where to buy books in Madrid
It is possible to stumble upon children’s booksellers with varying ranges of English-language picture books, readers and comics in almost every corner of Madrid. Fellow blogger Beatriz M Muñoz has helpfully put all their locations on this interactive map in her piece about children’s booksellers in the capital. For example, Chamberi has two fascinating bookstores: firstly there is El Dragon Lector run by Alejandra Camacho and Clara Echeverría whose love of children’s literature means that only the best English language titles reach their shelves. The second highly recommended comprehensive children’s bookstore in Chamberi is Liberespacio which offers books from 6 months to 18+. In the city centre, there is La Mar de Letras close to Opera Metro station and the excellent second-hand bookstore J&J Books and Coffee close to San Bernardo Metro station. Finally a special mention to Kiriku y La Bruja near Sainz de Baranda Metro station whose talented booksellers can persuade even the most reticent youngster to fall in love with reading.
La Noche de los Libros
(26th of April 2019)
Spaniards take children’s reading habits very seriously. Through theatre, storytelling, puppet shows and innovative afterschool workshops, the move to encourage children to become the next generation of bookworms is genuine and has measured success. On Friday 26th of April Madrid celebrates “la Noche de los Libros”: an evening dedicated to reading. Open-air storytelling sessions are programmed for families in Plaza de Pontejos (close to Sol) and begin at 5:30pm, with a DJ set to liven up the scene from 19:15h onwards with a mix of rock & roll dancing and public participation song guessing games! For those who cannot make it to Sol, check out this comprehensive list of free children’s events that are programmed for Friday 26th of April across the capital city, including a very popular English language storytelling event at the British Council.
Feria del Libro in Madrid
(31st May to 16th June 2019)
Coming up at the end of May is the annual Feria del Libro. Watch this space for updated information about the visiting country – The Dominican Republic – and all children’s activities that are programmed during that fun fortnight in the Retiro Park.
We would love you to tell us how you celebrate Sant Jordi and the Noche de los Libros. Leave us a comment on Facebook or Instagram with your favorite activities and we’ll share them here!