The power of books is not to be underestimated.
The right book can draw in a distracted child’s attention, it can calm down a fussy, upset kid, it can launch children into their own imaginative play that could last much longer than it takes to read the story.
A book can give words to something a child has never expressed before.
A book can open up a new world of foreign language for the eager listener in the hands of a nurturing native speaker!
Here’s more than fifty fantastic books that will work in just about any second language context/culture AND are captivating to almost every child.
Belonging is at the heart of human relationships—it is essential to what we are doing here, building a community that sustains life on earth.
You might say it is the soul of the human race: “It is not good to be alone.”
Or you could listen to how Brene Brown says it: “Connection is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
Belonging begins for every child in those relationships where their physical needs are met, usually their parents. That sense of belonging within family is primal and when it is given sparingly or on conditions that are hard to achieve, it produces pain rather than the delight we are made for.
Connection and trust in childhood begins with food and basic care, but it is developed and becomes endlessly richer by the sharing of language.
Family jokes, sayings, and familiar prayers all create a culture that says “we are us.” Or as Ellen Pompeo says it as Meredith in Grey’s Anatomy, “You are my person.” We belong to each other.
Sometimes we move our families out of their familiar “nest” of neighbourhood, home, routines, friendships, and relatives—and take them across the world for any one of many possible reasons.
At this time our kids need more than ever to know that they still belong: that this set of family connections will never be broken. This becomes their stability in the crazy whirl of leave-taking, travel, and re-settling. A maze of broken connections requires the central anchor of family to remain more reliable than ever before.
Nothing feels quite like reading a good storybook with your child in your lap.
Our family has a few favorite picture books that are so loved, many dog-eared pages have tape on them, grimy finger smudges on them, and everyone (especially mommy) has the words memorized! For us, its Dr. Seuss ABCs and anything by Richard Scarry.
Our children go back to these books again and again because they want the experience of entering the world of the book through the words and pictures, which usually happens when sitting in the lap of a trusted, loving adult in their life.
Books with a good story and pictures can transport our children to another place or time. Books can also give the child a "Hey, that's me!" feeling of familiarity when they experience a story about a child like them or activities they do.
And in the case of second language learning, provide a perfect context to introduce phrases, concepts, and vocabulary that wouldn't otherwise exist in the classroom/home learning setting. Don't underestimate the power of books for language learning, even if they are not in your target language!
However, not all books are created equal when it comes to using them for second-language learning.
We received this encouraging story of the beginnings of loving language learning from a mom a few months ago and want to share it with you. Language learning while living in a foreign culture is so crucial to a child's bonding with that culture. Their attitude toward it is everything!
"Thank you SO much for the work you do. We have been living in [African Arabic-speaking country] for four years and we have a 3, 4 and 6 year old. The older two were in Arabic preschool last year but we made the decision to do home schooling for them in the summer and simultaneously picked up a copy of Language Mama. We have been doing Language Mama weekly with a neighbor's teenage daughter since last September, and to say that it has been a game changer for us would be an understatement.
Our children have learned SO much language and culture, but the biggest gain has been their attitude to it, and the joy they have being around their language 'mama' and her family. They are so much more confident at speaking arabic, they are proud of their achievements, they are interested in learning more (they don't even realize they are learning!) and their engagement with the local culture has been so positive.
"As a mama I am so thankful that I am part of the process (last year when they were in preschool, their Arabic preschool world was a life of theirs I wasn't involved in and they didn't even know how to talk about it with me). It has been one of the best things we have ever undertaken as a family and we recommend it to everyone we know! Thank you so much for your hard work in devising and promoting the curriculum. "
SUNDAY - Prep Day.
I gathered my Go Dog Go book, some assorted toys, and my fully charged iPad mini. I asked Christine to help me film some videos for the week. She obliged. It took 20 minutes to film myself doing the Family script, Curtesy Script, and reading the book aloud in Hindi. The videos as you will see are unedited and were made in a single take. I'm doing it this way so you can make your own new mistakes and not the same ones I made! I used iMovie on my iPad to add titles to the movies for your reference. But the videos were so simple they definitely don't need any fancy titles.
I also had images to go with Go Dog Go and quickly made those into a coloring sheet on my laptop, then printed off a few copies.