Books in Portuguese for Language Learners

When we are learning a foreign language, it’s important for us to immerse ourselves in it as much as possible. One way of doing so is by reading books in that language. However, when we are not yet fluent in a foreign language that may seem like a daunting experience, particularly as we may only have heard of books for more proficient readers. An easy option is to read the translation of a book we’re already familiar with. But what if we are looking forward to reading books that have been written by native speakers?

If you have just started learning Portuguese, my first language, or are considering the possibility of learning it, there are four books that I recommend. They were written with a young audience in mind, but they are not too childish. Three of the books were written by Portuguese authors and one by a Brazilian. There are many differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese when it comes to not only pronunciation, but also vocabulary and grammar. So, the nationality of the author is something to bear in mind if you’re only interested in one of the main variants.


O Cavaleiro da Dinamarca by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen had Danish ancestry, so it’s not strange that she chose the main character in this short story to be from Denmark. A knight who used to live with his family in a forest decided to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. His journey is the main focus of this tale.


Viagem à Roda do Meu Nome by Alice Vieira

The young Abílio hates his name. Changing it to Luís seems like the only solution to his problem. However, the change doesn’t ultimately make him feel better about himself. Will a journey to the town of his relatives help him? I’ve read various books by Alice Vieira when I was younger, but I remember Viagem à Roda do Meu Nome to be one of my favourites.


O Gato Malhado e a Andorinha Sinhá by Jorge Amado

When Jorge Amado’s son was only 1 year old, he wrote him the fable O Gato Malhado e a Andorinha Sinhá. It is a love story between a lonely and selfish tom cat and a kind swallow that explores the need to overcome prejudices.


Histórias da Terra e do Mar by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

A collection of five short stories, Histórias da Terra e do Mar features many enchanting characters and suggestive descriptions, great importance being placed on sounds. The stories featured in the book are: ‘História da Gata Borralheira’, ‘O Silêncio’, ‘A Casa do Mar’, ‘Saga’ and ‘Vila d’Arcos’.


Are you starting to learn a foreign language? Have you tried reading books written in that language? Tell me in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Books in Portuguese for Language Learners

  1. Jan Hicks says:

    This is a great post! I’m a fan of reading books and stories to help with learning a language. So often, courses and text books are aimed at either tourist or business level language. Books and stories give a wider vocabulary, I think.

    I have a friend who worked for a Dutch Member of the European Parliament. He taught himself Dutch from the Tintin and Asterix books. He eventually translated the political book his employer wrote into English. All from reading bandes dessinées!

    When I was learning Japanese, we read two short stories for the course, which our teacher helped us to translate.

    While on holiday in Japan, I bought Japanese translations of two anglophone children’s classics – The Very Hungry Caterpillar (harabeko aomushi/はらべこあおむし) and Winnie the Pooh (kuma no pū san/クマのプーさん), and two Japanese fairy tale picture books that I attempted to translate by myself.

    Parallel texts can also be helpful. My husband bought me a book called Breaking into Japanese Literature. It has selected texts by authors from the Japanese canon in Japanese on the left hand page, an English translation and notes on the opposite page. I’ve dipped in and out of it. Penguin publish a parallel text series, but there are only seven languages so far, none of them Portuguese

    Now that I’m not studying on a course, I find it difficult to motivate myself to keep up my skills. Perhaps I should pull one of these books from the shelf and refresh my vocabulary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susana_S_F says:

      It’s so true that reading stories gives a wider vocabulary! I started learning English when I was 9 years old, but my vocabulary improved greatly when I started reading novels in English in my early twenties. Starting this blog also helped a lot with the writing part. Keeping a foreign language in shape requires continuous use!
      Reading parallel texts is also a great idea!


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