Today, teachers need to provide welcoming and inclusive educational environments for their diverse student populations. By building culturally responsive classrooms, all students develop a greater understanding of, and respect for, diverse cultures, enhancing community in the classroom. A new book helps educators embrace multiculturalism in their classrooms with lesson plans, games, and fun diversity activities.Continue reading Celebrate Diversity in the Classroom with Lessons & Activities in New Teacher’s Manual
Language Lizard is excited to announce a new bilingual children’s book that will make a great addition to your library or home collection! Food, Food, Fabulous Food introduces young readers to multicultural foods from all around the world.Continue reading New Bilingual Children’s Book! Food, Food, Fabulous Food
Language Lizard was thrilled to be a sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD), a movement to bring attention to the need for more multicultural children’s books in classrooms and libraries. Check out our previous post about the importance of books that feature diverse characters and multicultural stories.
We enjoyed discussing issues about multicultural books with educators, authors and parents as part of the #ReadYourWorld Twitter party in January. If you missed it, be sure to sign up for the MCBD newsletter so you can join in next year.
As part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, we shared a few of our favorite bilingual multicultural books with bloggers and book reviewers, and we’re excited to share their feedback here.Continue reading Multicultural Picture Books & Reviews
Searching around for a really special gift for multicultural families and teachers working in diverse communities? Check out our new, exclusive collection of 25 of the best multicultural books for grades 1-3 that celebrate diversity and teach children about different cultures. (Note: Additional sets targeted to Pre-K through K, and to grades 3-5, are also available on the Language Lizard site.) Continue reading 25 Favorite Children’s Books About Diversity
Language Lizard is thrilled to offer a new, exclusive collection of must-read multicultural books for preschool and kindergarten children! This set of books gives you an instant, award-winning library of diverse books for your classroom or home. No need to search around! We’ve selected 25 of our favorite multicultural stories that expose children to cultural and ethnic diversity and celebrate differences.
The books portray children from various backgrounds, including African American, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, Asian and Native American. The set includes stories related to the immigrant experience, books that help children embrace their unique heritage, and folktales from around the world.
The entertaining and well-reviewed stories help students appreciate diversity and build community with those around them. Children in diverse classrooms will build self esteem as they read/hear books in which their culture or ethnicity is represented. (Note: All books in this set are in English. Educators looking for bilingual multicultural books, click here or visit Language Lizard’s language-specific pages.)
Stories Included in the Collection
- An Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner that explores the similarities of two children who live in very different communities across the world.
- A child revels in who she is despite her differences. An ode to self-esteem, with fun and silly illustrations.
- An Asian folktale in which a young child is rewarded for his honesty and loyalty. An IRA-CBC Children’s Choice and An American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.”
- A sweet story in which a girl helps her Tia (aunt) earn money for a new car (since much of their savings goes to relatives who live far away). Winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, an Amelia Bloomer List Selection and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.
- An introduction to Ramadan in which a young boy shares his experiences of this special time and wants to try to fast like the grown-ups do.
- A book that looks at children all over the world and illustrates our common humanity.
- A child is teased for looking different and learns how to celebrate his differences.
- A book celebrating non-violent social change and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, illustrated by a three-time Caldecott Honor Recipient.
- A Latino boy “conquers the world” (except his sisters!) while teaching kids about a theatrical, action-packed sport that is popular in many Spanish-speaking countries. A Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and an ALSC Notable Children’s Book.
- Observing the features that make us unique, a story that celebrates what makes each child special.
- A Chinese girl learns to appreciate what her culture has to offer during an “American” holiday. An IRA Notable Book for a Global Society.
- A simple introduction to racial and ethnic diversity that teaches children that you can’t tell what someone is like from the color of their skin. An ALA Notable Book.
- A book with diverse characters that inspires and guides young children to recognize their self-worth and develop confidence in themselves. Includes a section of discussion questions, activities, games and tips.
- A trickster gets into trouble when he tries to do what goes against his nature. Winner of an ALA Notable Children’s Book, an ABA Pick of the Lists, and a National Parenting Publications Gold Award.
- A story that uses colors as the backdrop for sharing Muslim culture, with artwork that brings classical elements of Islamic art into a modern setting.
- A classic Chinese legend in which a poor boy helps thwart a greedy emperor’s plan.
- With bright, bold illustrations, an artistic child notices and appreciates the colors of her friends.
- A young girl delights in her favorite Korean dish… with details about how readers can prepare it themselves!
- A reassuring book that encourages kids to embrace their individuality and celebrate multiculturalism.
- A lovely Native American folktale that cautions children against bragging and teasing. An NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Parenting Magazine Reading-Magic Award Winner.
- A look at different families around the world, what they do and how they help each other.
- A Caldecott Medal winner, magical woodcuts are used in an Indian fable that explores big versus little, and the nature of pride.
- A book celebrating different cultures illustrates that the things that make us different also make us special.
- A simple story about friendship with culturally diverse characters and suggested after-reading activities.
- A lovely book about the children of the world and their inherent similarities. Supports The Global Orphan Project.
Just a Few Reviews of the Books in this Collection
- “Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love.” – Kirkus Reviews
- “With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety of subjects, not just race.” – School Library Journal
- “Explores the child’s experience of straddling two cultures – and serves up an ending as satisfying as sweet-and-sour pork and crusty dessert.” -The Washington Post
- “A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as the simplicity of its story.” – School Library Journal
- “Children will appreciate the warm, personal narrative, as well as the connections with Muslims all over the world.” – Booklist
- “Beautiful full-color illustrations portray this ancient Chinese folktale…” – Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
- “A splendid tale, perfectly paced for an amusing read-aloud” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
- “… strong, dramatic woodcuts perfectly interpret the old fable.” – School Library Journal
- “[An easy read] with child-friendly illustrations and easy-to-understand examples of real-life situations.” – Skipping Stones: A Multicultural Children’s Magazine.
- “Expressive, child’s-eye watercolors get in on all the activity… in this celebration of a well-loved cultural dish” – Horn Book
- “… [focuses] on positive thinking and assertive, kind behavior that can bolster children’s mental health, their relationships, and their performance in school.” – Sean Covey, best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids
- “Beautiful…. This will enrich and spark discussions of diversity.” – Booklist
- “The Strength of family and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams are the bedrock of [this…] picture book.” – Publishers Weekly
- “An essential book that acknowledges in the simplest of terms our common humanity.” – Kirkus Reviews
In a previous article, we offered tips to get you started in terms of choosing the right bilingual baby books, making dedicated reading time and reading with enthusiasm. In this post, we would like to offer some of our favorite bilingual books for babies and toddlers.
In a recent interview published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Casey Lew-Williams, co-director of the Princeton Baby Lab and Princeton assistant professor of psychology, discussed research regarding how young children learn and communicate, and how this supports their development. Lew-Williams mentions that quality of speech comes first, and then quantity. In other words, it’s not important to talk all the time; even when playing with a young child, you’re interacting with them and exposing them to language, often in creative and meaningful ways.
In terms of reading to babies and young children, he says: “Reading is another fantastic way to expose a child to language. Ideally you’re not just reading the pages in a book. You’re pausing to engage with the child: How does this relate to his or her life? Children’s books are more diverse in terms of vocabulary and grammar than speech. So there’s an extra value to reading, because it gets parents outside their own natural tendencies or conversational topics and into the language and ideas of an author.”
Our Favorite Bilingual Books for Babies and Toddlers
The Wheels on the Bus
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Row, Row, Row Your Boat… If You’re Happy and You Know It… Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Walking Through the Jungle
Room to Read
How to Enter:
Inspired by her experiences with foreign language learning, in professional settings and in her own family, Christine Jernigan, PhD, set out to write a unique guide for parents who want to raise their kids to speak more than one language. Specifically, Family Language Learning is designed for parents who are still in the process of learning a second “target” language themselves, or who are fluent but living in a country where another language is dominant. Jernigan, who instructs foreign language teachers at North Carolina State University and works as a language coach for parents, writes in a flowing, humorous and engaging style. The many personal anecdotes told by the author, as well as by other parents raising bilingual children, range from amusing to deeply moving. Readers will find themselves relating wholeheartedly to the language learning adventures (and misadventures) these parents have experienced.
This book is meant to be a how-to guide, or “springboard” as Jernigan calls it, for parents in the early stages of teaching their children a new language. It is also intended as a motivational tool, or “cheerleader” for when those parents inevitably run into roadblocks, or are feeling discouraged. Throughout, readers are encouraged to remain flexible, and to make adjustments when a situation demands it: “Keep your language plan in play dough, not stone,” as Jernigan very nicely puts it.
Family Language Learning stands out particularly because of Jernigan’s unique approach to the subject of language learning. While most experts focus on the academic, social and economic benefits of learning a second language (as does Jernigan, from the very first chapter), this author also explores in depth the greater emotional bond that learning a new language can create.
This book is accessible to every stage of language learner, even those at the very start of their journey. Concepts and terminology are explained in a clear and concise manner that assumes you have arrived with no prior language training. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of language learning, from why it’s important for your children to learn a new language to why you should encourage your kids to read foreign language material on their own, and how to motivate them to practice writing in the target language.
While Family Language Learning can easily be read cover-to-cover, thanks to Jernigan’s conversational style of writing, the chapters are broken into sub-sections that also make it easy to flip to the particular topic you’re seeking answers to. So, even when you’re well into your language journey, you can find just the right words of guidance and encouragement you need when you reach a bump in the road.
You May Also Want to Read…
Additional, valuable information on bilingualism and language learning can be found in A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker, a classic book in the field now in its fourth edition. This book is an extremely thorough guide for teachers of bilingual students, as well as parents who are raising bilingual children, whether they are fluent in the second language or not.
A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism can serve almost as an encyclopedia of language learning because it offers a wealth of information on a very wide range of topics. Each chapter is dedicated to distinct subjects, like “Family Questions,” “Language Development Questions” and “Reading and Writing Problems,” and within each chapter are Frequently Asked Questions that Baker has encountered over decades of working with parents and colleagues in bilingual education, as well as in his personal experience successfully raising three bilingual children.
A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (4th ed) is available in hardcover and paperback at Amazon.com.
New Words, New Friends
Written by Karen Nemeth
Illustrated by Diego Jiménez Manzano
Paperback and ebook
Available in English and Spanish
Review by Sue Kwon
Theo and Wyatt, two friends at school, are at the center of New Words, New Friends, the latest children’s book from Karen Nemeth, a national expert on early education and advocate for dual-language learners. Theo and Wyatt play just fine together, until their paths cross with that of the New Kid. “The New Kid got the ball and bounced it away. ‘Hey, You!’ cried the boys, ‘we need the ball to play!'” As we know, there is no greater offense for young children.
Little ones can sometimes get upset when reading about or seeing an emotionally charged situation like this. Yet Nemeth narrates this story with a sweet, uplifting rhyming style that allows kids to understand the important aspects of the plot without prodding any negative emotions. The lines are kept brief and concise – something adults will appreciate when kids ask to hear the book again and again. (And with this one, they will.)
The story’s characters, brought to life by Spanish illustrator Diego Jiménez Manzano, are drawn in a bold, playful, childlike style. The characters have round faces and big, bright eyes that are sure to please young readers. Jiménez Manzano also takes the time to fill each page’s background with small, colorful details, so there will be something new for kids to find on multiple readings.
In the story, Theo and Wyatt are lucky to have a knowledgeable, nurturing teacher who takes the time to explain why the New Kid behaves the way she does: She speaks another language, and didn’t understand what they were saying to her. The teacher tells them, “‘When a friend speaks a language that’s different than you, these are three things you can easily do.'” Thanks to her thoughtful guidance, a brand new friendship is able to grow between Theo, Wyatt and the New Kid, who we find out is named Violet. This story is about the importance of kindness and empathy when interacting with people from different backgrounds.
While New Words, New Friends is a book that kids will love reading, Nemeth also intends it to be “a storybook resource for teachers, librarians and parents.” The end of the book features Discussion Questions to help adults get their kids thinking and talking about the important lessons in the story. This book is meant to be a guide for adults who are helping little ones navigate the tricky yet essential journey of learning social and communication skills. “New Words, New Friends” delves into these important tasks, and presents it in a fun way, for both adults and children.
New Words, New Friends is available in English and Spanish, in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com.
Be sure to check out languagecastle.com, Karen Nemeth’s website that offers a wealth of resources for anyone who teaches young children who speak different languages.