Ever since I was first studying Spanish in college, I remember that my favorite section in Border's was the little kid's section of books because they had Spanish books for kids! It was there I bought the book: Un dinosaurio en peligro ("A dinosaur in danger") that I talked about a little bit in this entry. It's a great little book.
So I slowly started acquiring children's books in Spanish as I went throughout college and the farther I have gotten, the larger my collection has gotten. I currently have over 50 (easily) and a student gave me a small bookshelf that she didn't need anymore because I didn't have a place for my children's books!
Sufficed to say I get pretty excited about them. I actually modeled an activity with my classes one day because I really want to have a great time with them in Spanish, but I would like to help build their enjoyment of reading in Spanish through children's books for now and slowly we can move into chapter books.
One day last semester (before I was going to be absent), I had the kids pick out a book from the many that I had from a series. On amazon.com I found a series of books that I really like and they're somewhat cheap and they have differing levels from Lightning Readers. Some of the ones I really like are Manchita la vaquita torpe, La tortuga tonta, and El planeta de dinosaurios. But there are so many.
So I took all the different levels of those Lightning Readers that I had (20 or so) and I put them on a desk and had directions on the transparency for the students to get a book and on a piece of paper:
1) write their name
2) write the title of the book
3) write a short (2-3+ sentence) summary of the book
4) write down 5 words they recognized with the meaning and 5 new words they had to look up with the meaning.
The books range in level of difficulty. But I just thought it would be neat for them and the pictures would help them figure out the meaning as well. So that day we read a book and I gave them 20 minutes to complete the activity and then we did something else.
Then on sub days, I have this assigned to them and they have to complete 2 books and turn their paper in before they leave. It has worked well for the high school students. It's also good because they know what to expect and they have something they can accomplish without me in class.
Some teachers have them perform previous TPRS stories for the sub. I like this idea but haven't tried it yet. For now, I am ok with the readings since I have smaller class sizes and my students (although more comfortable than any years before) aren't as comfortable yet with the language.
If you are a foreign language teacher and have the resources, I recommend trying to buy even 1-2 children's books a month to slowly up your arsenal. They can be a great activity by themselves. Sometimes if not a lot of kids show up or my plan has flopped, I'll read them one of my favorite children's books from my collection and they gather in a circle and we can talk about the pictures and different things. We might shift the conversation onto the students and talk about them. But it's a lesson plan by itself.