If you’ve tried to send an email to any of the bilingualreaders.com email addresses over the last few days, you may have received an error message stating that our mailboxes were over their capacity. We’ve tidied up our inboxes just in case, but the server doesn’t seem to care and seems hell bent on its plans to block us from receiving messages for the time being. Thankfully I’m pretty sure our web developer will be able to easily resolve this issue fairly quickly, but our frustration with the server has helped me to realize just how dependent we are on new technologies. When I arrived in Spain for the first time a little over ten years ago, finding a place to check my email was fairly low on my list of priorities. Yet now it’s hard to imagine a day gone by without seeing what my friends across the globe are up to on Facebook (our apologies in advance for the 5 second self promotional reminder: by clicking here you can check out what Bilingual Readers is up to on Facebook). The world has changed so much over such a short period of time, and most of my generation has thrived on this new global playground.
Or have we? Are we really taking advantage of all of the possibilities these new technologies have provided, or are many of us hindered by language barriers, which prevent us from gaining access to all the information our neighbors have to offer? We now have so many opportunities to connect with and learn from people all over the world in real time, but in order to truly take advantage of these possibilities, we must first be able to speak and understand the language of those we are trying to communicate with. Just think of all the treasures out there just waiting to be discovered (and I’m not referring to the gold and gemstone variety), if only we could understand one another!
Just one more reminder of the most important reason to teach our children languages at an early age. One of our main goals at Bilingual Readers is to give the next generation the tools it needs to be able to communicate with and learn from as many different cultures as possible. Who knows what a future filled with new technological developments will hold, but we want our bilingual readers to be as prepared as possible to thrive in this increasingly global community. Let’s start a revolution, one bilingual book at a time.
How on earth we could have missed these free literacy sites in our last post is beyond me, but when Carol Rasco (you can follow her on Twitter @RascofromRIF) from Reading Is Fundamental sent us a few links the other day we were blown away by all of the great free resources in Spanish and English on her site. The first thing that both surprised and delighted me was the fact that the President and CEO of RIF actually took the time to send us a note to let us know about the work they’re doing to promote early literacy in English and Spanish. After reading more about RIF’s rich history, it’s so great to see such a personal involvement from key staff members who care enough to get the word out about their resources.
The Leading to Reading site (Semillitas de aprendizaje in Spanish) offers age appropriate on-line games, stories and other activities for children aged 0-5 years old. The bilingual Let’s Read as a Family/Leamos en familia site also has bilingual picture pair activities, coloring books and even some multicultural recipes for families to enjoy. There’s even some fun stuff for grown-ups too, including video instructions on how to make your own touch and feel book. The concept is fairly basic, but it’s a great idea and works perfectly with bilingual text. Here’s the gist:
1. Collect your materials.
2. Cut out different items for your book using the textured materials you’ve collected.
3. Glue the items to the three-hole punched paper.
4. Label each page. For example, if you’ve created a page with a pink corduroy square, write “Pink Square” on the page.
5. Make a title page.
6. Thread the yarn or ribbon through the holes in the pages to create a book.
7. Read the book to your child.
Of course, these sites and many others have been added to the growing list of recommended on-line activities, which can be found on the Bilingual Readers resources page, in the Just for Kids! section. Have fun!
We were so excited to find two great websites full of free activities for helping parents develop children’s reading levels. Both sites are available in English and Spanish (one is available in French and German too!), and both are 100% free.
The first webpage, Compact for Reading, is an initiative of the US Department of Education. Under the slogan “Connecting schools and homes to help children read,” the site goes on to offer four different level at home reading kits for kindergarten, first, second and third grade levels. According to the site, the School-Home Links Reading Kits are a collection of research-based activities designed to help families reinforce the reading and language arts skills that their children are learning at school.”
Sounds like a great idea to me, and I love the fact that the program also involves a pact between parents and schools working together to get kids reading in English and Spanish. Parent-child shared reading is one of the key factors in achieving early literacy, so any initiative which supports this goal is in high demand. Of course, the kits are geared toward US elementary school curriculum, but the activities are applicable for kids learning to read in English and Spanish all over the world.
The second free website, ReadToday.net (via Reading Tub), is run by the non-profit Literacy Center Education Network and contains emergent literacy activities in English, Spanish, French and German. This site is full of printable worksheets for practicing letters, numbers, colors, shapes and basic words. ReadToday.net addresses the specific needs of bilingual families by asking the important question, “What if every parent had the tools to teach their own children to read in a comfortable and supportive home environment? Not only would this give children a head start in life, it would enable every child to master basic skills in a first language before being dropped into a second language learning environment.”
What if every bilingual child did have the advantage of shared parent-child reading in both their languages at home before starting school? At Bilingual Readers our goal is to provide parents with the necessary materials to make this happen. Starting in October, we’ll be offering bilingual Spanish/English books, games and other activities for parents and their children aged 0-6 to enjoy together. In the meantime, stay tuned for more relevant articles and keep on reading!
One of our main goals at Bilingual Readers is to to provide resources for bilingual and multilingual families and communities. With the launch of our catalogue of English/Spanish bilingual books, games and activities in October we hope to become a constantly growing source of materials, which will help parents to reinforce their children.
The International Children’s Digital Library is an amazing source of reading material for bilingual families to enjoy. This library of digital books for 3-13 year olds is currently available in nine languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Arabic, Filipino, French, German and Hebrew), and you can search for titles by age appropriateness, fiction, non-fiction, book length or subject matter. According to the Library’s Mission Statement, it’s goal is “to support the world’s children in becoming effective members of the global community – who exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online free of charge.” They go on to say that “A fundamental principle of the Foundation is that children and their families deserve to have access to the books of their culture, as well as the majority culture, regardless of where they live.
We at Bilingual Readers agree wholeheartedly with this mission and hope our books can help bilingual families around the world to share the many benefits of growing up in a multilingual home. Happy reading!
In keeping with the recent father’s day motif, we’ve discovered a fun blog called Spain Dad, about an American father raising his beautiful daughter, Alleke, in Madrid. Spain Dad Kelly writes about everything from parenting to baby names to natural birth options in Madrid, but what really grabbed my attention was a post he wrote about a photobook he made for his daughter. You can read the entire post on Spain Dad, but here’s the description of how he went about making The Bed Book for his daughter:
How to write a book for your child:
1. April and I spent some time re-reading the sleep chapters in a few of our favorite parenting books as well as some advice from friends in emails and online forums.
2. After some discussion, we outlined Alleke’s new bedtime routine together.
3. Using the outline, I wrote the story for the book and got April’s approval.
4. I took digital photos of Alleke acting out each part of her new bedtime routine (which involved a lot of giggling).
5. I created a photo book in iPhoto (I inserted the photos in sequence and added the text), then ordered a copy online. It cost 25€ and took about a week to arrive. If you don’t have a Mac, do a Google search for “photo book,” and you’ll find all kinds of companies that make photo books, like blurb and Shutterfly.
What kid wouldn’t want to read a book about herself over and over again? What a great way to make shared parent-child reading special and help children adjust to new routines. I love this idea, which would work perfectly with bilingual text for OPOL families. If any of you decide to make your own bilingual photobooks, please send us a link so we can see how they turn out!
In honor of Father’s Day in the United States (in Spain, Father’s Day is celebrated in March), we’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to all the dads out there who are raising bilingual readers. All too often we associate this daily commitment with moms, but there are also many amazing fathers who are extremely involved in giving their children the gifts of bilingualism and literacy. According to a recent article by the UK National Literacy Trust, “Dads and other male carers are just as important as mums in encouraging children to enjoy reading – perhaps even more so, since reading is often thought of by boys as a “girly” thing to do.” Father-child shared reading is even more important in OPOL households, as children need to be read to in both parents’ languages in order to receive balanced input of the vocabulary, sentence structure, sounds, rhythms and rhymes of each of individual language.
Are you an involved dad who’s interested in making reading a priority, but you don’t know where to begin? Here’s a list of down to earth tips for dads from Dad’s Space , an excellent resource for fathers across the globe:
Thanks to Dad’s Space for the great advice, and Happy Father’s Day to all our bilingual dads!
Some of you may not know that Bilingual Readers has created its own channel on YouTube to provide you with fun and informative videos on a wide range of topics affecting bilingual families and communities. From bilingualism basics to early literacy to bilingual education, our channel will be a constantly growing library of helpful resources for our readers. In the near future we’ll also be including exclusive interviews with bilingual families who will share the ins and outs of their bilingual households, as well as fun kids videos for even the smallest bilingual readers to enjoy. Visit us here and stay tuned for new videos every week!