Beginning With Bilingual Books

Reading at bedtime and quiet time during the day is something I look forward to as a Mama. It is an excellent opportunity for me to speak and read Spanish with my children. Before my son was born Mr. and I agreed on the importance of raising bilingual children. Not only is it part of their heritage it allows them to communicate and better identify with much of their familia. I must mention the proven intellectual benefits of raising your child to be bilingual. Some interesting reading here and here. Interestingly enough although my Mr. is a native Spanish speaker, I am the one that speaks and teaches our children Spanish for the most part. I am after all with them all day everyday. Calling everyday items or tasks by there Spanish name was the most practical way I first introduced Spanish to my wee babes. Now as my children are expanding their vocabulary and better expressing themselves I find myself once again newly committed to speaking and reading to my children in Spanish.

A page from Eight Animals On The Town
 Stella is still into short story board books and easily gets board with the more complicated stories that JQ enjoys. She and I typically read books such as Mis Animales by Rebecca Emberley or an A is for Airplane by Theresa Howell. One of our favorites and one that we read almost every night is Eight Animals On The Town by Susan Middleton Elya. Just like mis hijos I am drawn to the bright colors of these books and rhythmic vocabulary. Someone that has no or very little knowledge of the Spanish language could easily use these books mentioned as an introduction for themselves and there children! All are in both English and Spanish which is helpful.

Brightly colored books and artwork from some of our favorite libros.
 Joaquin has recently become interested in more complicated, longer stories at bedtime and for casual
reading at quiet time. I still like to read ABC and number books with him and have found a few really great options for children JQ's age. Gathering The Sun by Alma Flor Ada is a beautifully illustrated alphabet book based on California's agricultural workers, Chicano culture and the work of Cesar Chavez. This book is in both English and a perhaps a more advanced Spanish level. I have a special fondness for this book and hope that my children grow to appreciate it's meaning beyond its depiction of the alphabet.
Both Stellita and JQ enjoy participating in the storytelling and it is very gratifying to here them retell it their own way and more and more often using Spanish words. Half of the books in the nursery are in Spanish or both Spanish and English and a great percentage of them are storybooks. A few more favorites are Lola by Loufane, Mas Mas Mas Dijo El Bebe by Vera B. Williams, Pio Peep a collection of Spanish nursery rhymes another by Alma Flor Ada. Skippyjon Jones Lost In Spice by Judy Schachner is an absolute must and a lot of fun to read. It is longer in length so certainly one for children just a bit older and the Spanish is cleverly intertwined in the story. Reading and books play a significant role in raising our children to be bilingual. I encourage others to introduce a second language this way!
Our small, well loved collection of Disney books in Spanish.

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  1. I couldn't agree with you more! We teach our children at the Filipino Education Center in San Francisco to be proud to be bilingually smart! Kudos to you and your family. Much love and hugs.

  2. Great article to share the love of reading in another language. I just want to mention also that breakfast can be a good time to read a book in another language. As a dad who does not have often the opportunity to read at bedtime. I compensate by taking 10min in the morning to read to Pablo (4) in French while we gulp down our breakfast.

    Franck @ earlylanguages



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