Reading books in Portuguese is a great way to learn Portuguese for a number of reasons. First, when you read, you can go at your own pace.
Unlike watching a movie, listening to a song, having a conversation or taking a class, reading is self-paced, personal and unique to you.
Also, as you read, you see the words spelled out for you on the page, which helps to reinforce spelling. Reading also helps you refresh grammar lessons.
You see how verb conjugation, article use and adjective position work in context.
As you read at the speed that’s comfortable to you, you can take the time to absorb all of these lessons. And also enjoy a great story while you’re at it.
Here are a few suggestions for books in Portuguese to read for beginning, intermediate and advanced Portuguese language learners.
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Books In Portuguese For Beginning Learners
Though it may seem odd for some adults to pick up a children’s book, for beginning learners, the simple content and illustrations can help build vocabulary and confidence.
Remember, the point of reading is for enjoyment. And if you’re struggling over every other word and unable to make it through the first page, you’ll likely become frustrated and give up.
Picking a book that’s at your current language level, even if it’s a children’s book, will yield much better results. And help get you to the next level and more advanced reading in due time.
#1 O Meu Pe De Laranja Lima
First published in 1968 and written by Brazilian author José Mauro de Vasconcelos, this is a classic of Brazilian children’s literature.
It tells the endearing story of Zeze, a child from a humble family who finds friendship in a bird who visits him when he climbs an orange tree.
#2 Ou Isto Ou Aquilo
Written by Cecília Meireles in 1964, this is another Brazilian children’s classic.
Meireles’ book of poems describes the sights, sounds and sensations of a child’s world through vivid, yet simple poetry.
So it's an excellent way to delve into Portuguese vocabulary.
#3 O Pequeno Principe
Though written in French, this classic tale is worth a read in all languages.
The difficulty level of the vocabulary is easy, making it a great book to help reinforce existing vocabulary and build a few new words as well.
Also, there are illustrations, which helps to visually reinforce the meaning of the written words, and is especially useful for visual learners.
#4 Como Nascerem As Estrelas: Doze Lendas Brazilieiros
Though better known for her novels and short stories, this children’s book by famous Ukranian-born Brazilian immigrant Clarice Lispector, is a beautifully written reimagining of Brazilian folklore.
One story for each month, the twelve stories are meant to carry us through the year and enjoy the creative and imaginative world of Brazil’s legends and tales.
#5 Short Stories in Brazilian Portuguese by Olly Richards
In order to best serve my learners, I’ve compiled this collection of short stories in Brazilian Portuguese.
With the aim of both entertaining you and helping you to learn, these stories have been carefully selected and included in this curated collection.
I hope you enjoy them.
Books In Portuguese For Intermediate Learners
#6 O Alquimista
Though written by Brazilian-born author Paulo Coelho, this book was actually written in English first. So, by reading it in Portuguese, you’ll actually be reading a translation of the book from English into Portuguese.
Like O Pequno Principe, the language is simple and accessible, though slightly more advanced which is why I put it in the Intermediate category. It tells a captivating tale of adventure and the challenges one goes through to find one’s true purpose.
#7 O Sal Da Vida
Translated from French author Françoise Héritier’s book into various languages, including Portuguese, this translation aims to capture all that is pleasurable and beautiful about life.
Though the original book focuses on the pleasures of life in France, this translation transports us to Brazil and Brazilian culture.
A beautiful tribute to life, love and enjoying the simple things in life, it reads like a series of snapshots of precious moments. You won’t be able to put this book down.
Books In Portuguese For Advanced Learners
#8 O Mulo
Written by celebrated Brazilian author Darcy Ribeiro, O Mulo tells the story of a man on his deathbed recounting the trials he passed through and the loves he had throughout his life.
The language is quite unapologetically formal and complex. So it's an excellent exercise for learning a lot of new expressions and vocabulary.
#9 Ensaio Sobre A Cegueira
Written by Portuguese writer Jose Saramago, this futuristic novel imagines the depths of human darkness when the world experiences a pandemic that leaves everyone blind except for one person.
Made into a film starring Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal in 2008, this story is captivating and complex.
So it's an excellent option for advanced Portuguese language students.
How To Choose A Book In Portuguese
There are so many options to choose from, but where to begin. The first thing you need to do is assess your current level of fluency. It’s important that the book you choose is adequate for your level. This is the most important rule of StoryLearning®.
If you choose something too simple, you’ll get bored and won’t learn anything new. If you choose something too hard, you’ll get frustrated, likely give up, and, again, won’t learn anything new.
So, finding the right level where the book is challenging but not overwhelming, is important.
Also, it’s important to choose a book that you will like. If you couldn’t care less about race cars, for example, and you start to read a book about a race car driver, well, chances are you won’t enjoy the experience of reading that book very much.
You might consider looking for your favorite books in English in their Portuguese translations. You already know and love the story in English, now you can read and love it in Portuguese too. There are a wide variety of English titles that are also published in Portuguese these days.
Once you find a book that is at the right level for you and is on a topic that interests you, then you can easily find most titles in Portuguese on Amazon.
Tips On How To Read In A Foreign Language
Reading in another language isn’t like reading in your own language. There will be words you don’t know and expressions you aren’t familiar with.
In order to get the most out of your reading experience, check out these tips for reading in Portuguese:
Don’t stop reading and grab for the dictionary every time there’s a word you don’t know. It might be tempting and may seem like you’re just being a diligent student. But doing this can hamper your progress.
The aim of learning a language through books and stories is to get the gist of what you’re reading and to use the vocabulary you already have to deduce things.
If you’re constantly stopping to look up words, you won’t be able to put this important skill to use in other contexts like when you’re having a conversation with a native Brazilian speaker. Or watching a film in Portuguese.
Do underline words you don’t know so you can go back and look them back later. Of course it’s perfectly fine and even recommended to use this as an opportunity to build your vocabulary.
But rather than stopping every time you don’t know a word, instead you can circle or underline words and expressions you don’t know. So you can revisit them and find out their meaning later.
Look Up Frequent Words
Of course, if there’s a word you see that keeps coming up again and again that seems key to your ability to understand the book, then go ahead and look it up. Just don’t insist on doing that for every unknown word.
After you finish reading, make flash cards with the words you didn’t know and go through them to memorize them.
Make another set of flash cards with the sentence in which you found the word. That way, you don’t only learn the isolated word, but you learn it in the context you first saw it.
Reading out loud can help you see where you need to improve your pronunciation. If you stumble to pronounce certain words, then you know which ones you have to work on.
If you have a teacher or a language partner, go ahead and make a video of you reading out loud and share it with them. This way, they can help correct your Portuguese pronunciation.
Write A Summary
After you finish reading the book, write a short summary of it in Portuguese. This will help you to remember the important points of the story. And challenge you to recall the vocabulary you learned, helping you to retain the new words.
Go back and re-read the book again. With each re-reading, you’ll drive home the vocabulary and grammar you learned the first time around and learn something new.
Re-reading is also a good opportunity to see how many of the new words you learned that you’re able to understand when you see them again.
Reading In Portuguese: Have Fun!
So there you have it – 9 books in Portuguese for every stage of learning.
Reading in Portuguese is an excellent learning tool to build vocabulary, grammar and spelling skills. Remember to treat this exercise as an enjoyable experience, not a laborious slog.
Use your sense of adventure, look for clues to help suss out meanings. And let yourself get caught up in the story.
The more you can savour the experience, the more you’ll want to pick up another book to read, and another and another. That’s how you build fluency.
Enjoy yourself and boa leitura!