Resources – 7 benefits to bilingual books

This week, I had the pleasure of rediscovering the magic bilingual books can provide.

One evening, I had a special time doing a duet reading of a bilingual book with my eldest daughter for the first time: I read in English and she in Spanish.  It felt like a magical bilingual family moment. A moment of mum-daughter complicity, the reward for teaching her to read with my daughter now extending her reading skills to our other minority language (ml), the reward for insisting to raise her trilingual -with her now playing substitute reading in Spanish to replace her dad who was working late that day.

Somehow, since the beginning of our trilingual adventure bilingual books have never been my favourite resource. We have a few of them but the vast majority of our home library consists of single language books.  Yet, this week’s experience has made me reflect a little more on the benefits specifically yielded from reading this kind of dual language resources:

  1. Learning vocabulary in both languages – How many times have you caught your child code-switching because they did not know a word in the ml?  One benefit of bilingual books is that it helps strengthen their vocabulary in both languages, and even parents’ learning the other’s language.  
  2. The opportunity for parents to pick up one another’s language when they do not speak the other’s language.
  3. Learning the art of translating – this is not something that is natural to children.  So it is a nice way for them to see their two languages alongside one another, and see how the story is narrated in each.
  4. Two-voice read-aloud time with parents– this is a treat for kids to have both of their parents reading to them at the same time.  I once had the pleasure to do such a duet and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It also creates a beautiful image of the child’s dual identity.
  5. Two-voice read-aloud time with your child– once your child reads it is a great way to incite them to use their ml reading skills.
  6. Complicity between readers – Reading together whether between parents, parent-child or siblings can create complicity and bonding.
  7. Reading game between siblings – As they grow older and read independently, siblings can do duet read-alouds too.

Here are a few reasons not to completely exclude such resources from your library, even if they are not always easy to find or the translations not always to our liking.

What do you like about bilingual books?  Please share your likes using the Comment section.

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