Reading Spanish Books
I want to read Spanish books but I am a beginner. I was thinking about buying some children Spanish books and translating them word for word.
Would this help me or am I better off spending my time learning of to conjugate and construct my own sentences?
I don't think that it is a matter of "either-or." Reading books is a great way to build your vocabulary, especially if you read those books repeatedly. Writing, is a great way to synthesize the individual components of what you have learned to really solidify your knowledge base. It would probably benefit you to do both. Studying grammar while you are doing both of these will also enhance your abilities and make your progress that much faster.
By the way, if you are looking for early level Spanish books, you could always check the library
My own local library has many Spanish titles available that range in reading level from toddlers to adults. You should check it out.
Many children stories can be found on the Gutenberg web site, many of those are translated from English, French, etc. And all free, see: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/languages/es
If you have an e-reader like the kindle, you can find a spanish/English dictionary for free at: http://www.evilgeniuschronicles.org/wordpress/2010/01/07/my-free-and-open-kindle-formatted-spanish-to-english-dictionary/
It works great, highlight a word and the translation shows at the bottom or the top of your screen.
I started with childrens books, my first one was something like "El Monstruo Debajo De Mi Cama" There's a monster under my bed...
I found a terrific children's book Habia una vez. The book is English on the left and Spanish on the right. The book is very much an Aesop's Fables type of content. I have found the book to be very helpful especially with the progressive tenses.
This book was at the library in the children's section.
I believe should learn basic present tense conjugation first, as well as very basic sentence structure.
Also, make sure you have basic vocabulary down.
After that, though, I think it would be beneficial for you to get books for children and translate the words you don't know.
you could use a dictcanary.