Reading in the minority language: Building confidence using comics

My 7-year old’s reading journey began 2 years ago (c.f “Getting your child started with reading in the minority language“).  One day of November, she picked up a book in English and unexpectedly began reading it out loud.  She had understood her sound blending lessons at school and decided to read on her own. Nine months ahead of the French school curriculum.  To keep up her interest, and to avoid interfering with her teacher’s work, I offered her to learn reading in English.  We let French reading follow in due course, and wanted to wait a little for Spanish to avoid confusing our daughter.  However, she insisted in learning to read in Spanish, so we eventually caved in.  Yet, with 3 languages it is always difficult to balance them out and Spanish always lagged behind.

We got my eldest an early reader book set widely used in Spanish schools, but after that series there seemed to be such a gap with the first band of the famous young reader series “Barco de Vapor”.  The latter seems to use an important quantity of longer and more complex words for my daughter to read out and understand.  For a while, I could not seem to find appropriate books.  Her struggle reading books beyond her level did not help her feeling confident, hence not motivating her in pursuing reading in Spanish.  

Eventually, I gave it a shot with a comic.  The predominance of pictures and short texts made reading less daunting.  My husband had her do a duet reading with him every evening.  At first, I heard her struggle reading words, but over times, her reading improved.  It is still jerky, but much better than it was. Some of the comics she enjoyed so much she is actually reading over again, something she would not do yet with a Barco de Vapor book.

Parents are often reluctant about comics.  They often feel that they are not “proper” books, that they are not rich enough vocabulary-wise.  Yet, this is exactly why they are an excellent tool.  Their simplicity enables the child to build confidence in reading the basics, with a fun design on top of that.  It can hence bridge the reading level between early reader books and young reader books.  The cherry on the cake is that it makes it all more fun, which helps bringing down reading resistance from your child, and will also contribute to your child’s bicultural identity if that comic is only available in your ml country.

If Spanish is also your minority language (ml), and you are interested in the comics that caught my daughter’s attention, you will find below the list of comics we used.  Please note that some of them might have been translated to other languages, so you might want to look them up if they seem appealing to you. 😉 

To continue the confidence building process, I have just come across the Agus y Los Monstruos picture novel series.  Pictures still represent a large part of the story but the text quantity is more important. These books are on my reading-shopping list, should Santa not get her one. 😉

If like me, you find it difficult to come across the right books with the appropriate reading level for your child, give comics a shot.  They are always worth a try.  Kids grow tired of everything so quickly anyway! 

Tip: To help you in the children’s books jungle, follow a couple of specialised bloggers.  I owe this positive comic experience to the inspiring Pekeleke.es blog.  So, have a look around on Instagram using key hashtags such as #childrensbooks to find your reference blogger.  Take the time to visit their actual blog to read their detailed review of a book that caught your eye on their Insta account.  Social media are a quick way to access visual information, but it cannot replace a good review with pictures of the book.  Once you have purchased several books recommended by a couple of bloggers and that fit your liking and needs, you will not need to get lost in the children’s books jungle again.  You will simply head to their posts to look for recommendations that fit your current needs.  This is exactly I proceeded with the comics. 😉

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