Use Latin Translations of Kids’ Books to Teach Children Latin

Books for Kids in Latin?

Perhaps you’ve seen Winnie Ille Pu or Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis hanging out in the foreign language area of the bookstore. Maybe you’re more familiar with Cattus Petasatus or Arbor Alma. Whatever your familiarity level is with these books (Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Cat in the Hat, The Giving Tree), they provide a great resource for your young student learning Latin.

What Books are Available?

Besides the aforementioned Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter 1, Cat in the Hat and Giving Tree, the following books (and more) are available in Latin:

  • Regulus (The Little Prince)
  • Virent Ova! Virent Perna!! (Green Eggs and Ham)
  • Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
  • Harrius Potter et Camerea Secretorum (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

The books are available from, Barnes and Noble, and Rainbow They all run between $10.00 and $25.00 depending on whether you purchase them new or used. You can also find them at your local library.

Building Students’ Vocabulary

Start with the Dr. Suess books just like you would with a beginning reader. Go through the book and identify any vocabulary your student will need to know. You can then put together a vocabulary list, for example: Cattus….cat or Ova…eggs. Have the student study the vocabulary list prior to reading the book. This will help the student to read the book in a more smooth fashion.

If you have an older student who has already studied a year of introductory Latin, this could be a great opportunity for her. Have your student read through the book and make her own vocabulary list of words she doesn’t know. She should then study the list and learn the new words.

Building Students’ Translation Skills

Another great use for these books is to build the student’s translation skills. Again you will want to start with the Dr. Seuss books. With translation, it is helpful if your student also has a good Latin-English dictionary available. Don’t begin translation with students who haven’t had some basic grammar instruction in Latin.

Have the student sit down with the book each day and translate a certain portion of the book from the Latin to the English. Because these stories are often already familiar to the students it will be easier than if a student were translating from texts originally written in Latin. It will also give your student practice in translation before she gets to those more difficult texts like the Aenied.

For an alternate exercise, have your Latin student translate a simple book or story in English into Latin and illustrate it. This could be a great end of the year project for your Latin students.