Category Archives: Holidays

April’s Reading Holidays are Perfect for Diverse Children’s Books

April is a great month for book lovers! Not only do we have Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, there’s also National Library Week and a whole host of reading-related holidays that celebrate books, poems and libraries.

Children’s Book Day

April 2nd of each year, the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, is also Children’s Book Day. It’s a holiday that celebrates children’s book authors, promotes the importance of early literacy, and is a great chance to share your favorite book with the young readers in your life.

National Library Week

The second full week of April each year is National Library Week. It’s a time to celebrate our school and community libraries. Libraries have been using creative strategies to attract and meet the needs of their multicultural patrons. Many libraries have transformed themselves into centers of information and learning for their diverse communities

National Library Week aims to make the public aware of the many services libraries offer, and the value and impact of those services to our communities.  Use #NationalLibraryWeek on social media to spread the word, and share what you love about your local library.

D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read!)

April 12th of every year, author Beverly Cleary’s birthday, is known as Drop Everything And Read Day. (The idea of D.E.A.R. Day was first introduced in her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8.) Families are encouraged to take 30 minutes (or more!) to enjoy books with their kids. Hopefully it will spark a love of family reading time all year-round!

School Library Month

April is also School Library Month – a celebration of school librarians and their programs. Interested in increasing the bilingual and multicultural book offerings in your classroom or school library? A bilingual lending library can inspire a love of reading in students, and increase parental involvement. Our post offers tips to help take your bilingual lending library from vision to reality.

Dia! Diversity in Action

April 30th of each year is the culmination of Dia! Diversity in Action. Dia! provides support to libraries by connecting their patrons to more bilingual/multicultural services and resources. The initiative is a “daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.”

Have you ever considered introducing a bilingual story time program for your school or library? Not only would a story time offer children who speak the same language a chance to gather, it would help all students with literacy, cultural appreciation and a sense of community.

Will you be celebrating any of April’s reading holidays? Comment below and let us know how!

“Toronto: book stacks at Toronto Reference Library” by The City of Toronto via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/gjDrZY

What Can World Folk Tales & Fables Teach Us?

earth with background of world folk tales

March 17th marks the start of World Folk Tales & Fables Week 2019. What kind of valuable life lessons can be learned from folk tales and fables? Read on for a free lesson plan and activity ideas to help bring world folk tales and fables into your home or classroom.

Folk Tale or Fable?

Folk tales are stories passed down through generations of people. Fables are just one type of folk tale – short stories, often featuring talking animals, that teach a lesson. These fables are crafted to appeal to children. Aesop, believed to have lived around 560 BC, is one the most well-known fable creators.

The simplified story lines and characters of folk tales and fables make them great for teaching life lessons to little ones. Stories tend to develop quickly, with a central conflict and a satisfying resolution. Some of these tales feature rhymes or line repetition, making them practically irresistible to the youngest of readers.

What Do Folk Tales Have to Teach Us?

In addition to the classic morals taught (think rewards of hard work in The Little Red Hen and the Grains of Wheat, and why Goldilocks should have used her manners with those bears), folk tales are a great chance to introduce kids to other cultures and times.

Multilingual covers of children's book Little Red Hen

Travel to a far-off time and land with Chin Wah and his magical golden fish (The Dragon’s Tears), or meet the famous Bengali woman (in Buri and the Morrow) who must outsmart the forest creatures who want to gobble her up!

Reading world folk tales and fables with the kids in your family or classroom is a great opportunity to teach, bond and work on literacy skills.

Folk Tales: Resources & Recommendations

Download our free multicultural lesson plans. Several of these plans incorporate folk tales and fables to build literacy stills and explore different cultures. For example, the “Language, Customers, Culture in India” lesson plans utilize the folk tale Buri and the Marrow as a way to learn about Indian cultures and customs with your students. The “Building Community in the Classroom” lesson plans use The Giant Turnip to promote discussion about community and cooperation, while examining diverse countries.

Explore our site for numerous bilingual world folktales and fables in many languages. We also offer the Myths and Legends collection (bilingual versions of Pandora’s Box, Isis and Osiris, Beowulf, The Children of Lir), which can be a good starting point for older children to explore classic stories from other cultures.

What are your favorite folk tales? Comment below and let us know!

Image is derivative of “Blue Marble” by NASA, Reto Stöckli, Robert Simmon

Chinese New Year – A Multicultural Holiday

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year begins on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. It’s a special time to honor ancestors and renew family bonds with traditional rituals and feasts. Also known as Spring Festival, for those who celebrate it, it’s one of the most important social and economic holidays of the year.

CHINESE NEW YEAR

Chinese New Year is tied to the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebration begins on the night of a new moon, and culminates with the Lantern Festival, when families gather in the streets with beautiful lighted lanterns.

Part of preparations for the new year is a thorough cleaning of the home, to invite good fortune in the new year. Each day of Chinese New Year is celebrated with friends and family, enjoying feasts, music, gifts, and red envelopes full of good luck money.

YEAR OF THE PIG

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

This year will be the Year of the Pig! In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth and good fortune. According to legend, people born in the year of the pig are realistic, thrifty, and are sure to get enjoyment from their lives. They are never lazy, and bring enthusiasm to all their endeavors. The colors yellow, gray and brown, and the numbers 2, 5 and 8 are considered lucky for those born in the Year of the Pig.

MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATION IN THE CLASSROOM

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

Celebrate this special holiday with the bilingual children’s book Li’s Chinese New Year. Available in English and your choice of 12 languages, the story introduces us to Li, who must make the important decision of which animal costume he will wear to the school’s big New Year assembly. Readers will find all twelve of the zodiac animals in the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the holiday at the back of the book.

Now through February 28, 2019 get 10% off Li’s Chinese New Year by entering discount code CNY2019 at checkout!

Share this fun multicultural holiday with your students by downloading our free Chinese New Year lesson plan so students can explore the holiday by utilizing geography, crafts and discussion. Compare similarities and differences between the Chinese New Year and the American New Year with a Venn diagram activity. The lesson also includes suggestions for teaching about world geography and population density.

The book Li’s Chinese New Year is the inspiration for this lesson plan. It introduces students to the Chinese New Year celebrations and ties concepts together in the lesson plan. Teachers can also use the story to introduce students to Chinese characters in the bilingual English-Chinese version of the book while reading the story out loud in English.

The primary focus of the lesson plan is to help children cultivate an appreciation for cultural and linguistic diversity. Through collaborative activities and discussions, students can build positive relationships with one another while learning to appreciate our world’s global diversity.

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? Comment below and let us know what your favorite part of the holiday is!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
This post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!

Multicultural Children’s Books #ReadYourWorld

Child looking through the pages of a book

Language Lizard is a proud sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019. Children’s books that showcase diverse, multicultural characters have long been underrepresented on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. Here’s why the next time you’re book shopping, you’ll want to make multicultural children’s books a top priority.

We Need More Multicultural Children’s Books

Book page featuring diverse characters

Of the 3,700 children’s books reviewed by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in 2017, only 25% featured non-white characters. While this is an improvement over the 10% in 2014 , clearly publishers still have a long way to go. Beyond that, we also need libraries and bookstores to carry more multicultural books, so that teachers, parents and children can have access to them.

When you’re selecting your next set of books, seek out ones that challenge stereotypes by featuring positive and realistic multicultural characters who will be empowering role models to young readers. Look for books with story lines that have universal appeal, so every child will be enthusiastic about reading.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day – January 25, 2019

Poster for Multicultural Children's Book Day 2019

Support Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019!

Use #ReadYourWorld on social media, and share your love of diverse characters and multicultural stories. It’s an easy way to help get more multicultural children’s books out into the world. There were 3.2 billion social media shares for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018… let’s beat that number this year!

Go to the event’s website and find other ways to support this great cause. There’s a free classroom poverty kit, diversity books lists and activities.

#ReadYourWorld on January 25, 2019

Check out their eBook fundraiser – all of the proceeds will be used to gift books to teachers for their classroom libraries!

Multicultural Stories & Book Sets

Children's book about multicultural holidays

Language Lizard offers numerous books that celebrate diversity and teach children about different cultures. We offer bilingual multicultural stories in a choice of over 50 languages, as well as English-only book sets that focus on cultural holidays and traditions around the world.

Christmas Around the World

"Merry Christmas" in many languagesguest post by Edmond Gubbins

Teaching in a small, rural, primary school rooted in the Catholic ethos in Ireland, Christmas is a central tradition celebrated by the students. Each year in December, the children perform a Christmas pageant, attended by their families and fellow schoolmates. However, my colleagues and I decided that, this year, we would divert from telling the traditional story of the birth of Jesus Christ and the Nativity and move instead toward teaching a more inclusive Christmas story, one that authentically captures the experiences of children from a range of diverse backgrounds. It is from this theme: “Christmas Around the World” that my journey into fostering an appreciation for the diversity of Christmas customs among my students originated.

Fostering an Appreciation for Diversity

As a teacher of 2nd and 3rd class students (ages 8-10), the children I teach have grown up hearing about the customs and stories familiar to them and their families during Christmas time. I wanted to push their understanding of this holiday and help them realize that the celebration of important feasts and festivals are dependent on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) their nationality, belief systems, family values and personal identity. We have done much work this school year already on the concept of identity and how our identity shares features that are common to other people, distinct from other people and unique to ourselves. Arising from this conceptual understanding, it made sense to take our Christmas show in a similar direction and investigate some of the traditions in December through a multicultural lens. What better way to do it than through the medium of drama, where the children can truly step into the shoes of another and see Christmas traditions from a multitude of perspectives?

“Our show will help you see that Christmas isn’t the same for you and me!”

My students and I have learned much from this project. As we looked at how Christmas is celebrated in Poland through a retelling of Marek and Alice’s Christmas in class one day, discussion naturally followed about how the holiday is marked in other countries. There are some fantastic resources online that we used in devising the script for the show. Writing a script for over 30 excited children, making sure that every child has their time to shine on stage, while also allowing them to learn about cultures different from their own was no easy task, let me tell you! However, now that rehearsals have started, I can tell already that it is a project that has been worthwhile for my own knowledge but also for the children’s attitudes of acceptance and appreciation of diversity.

So what does Christmas look like around the world?

Our pageant looks at some of the customs, foods and songs associated with Christmas in a host of countries. For example, in certain parts of Russia, many people do not eat on Christmas Eve until the first star has appeared in the night sky. Families then eat 12 courses of food to represent the 12 disciples of Jesus. My children were fascinated to learn about the tradition of eating kutia, a porridge-like meal, during the Christmas feast. All the family eats from the same bowl to symbolise unity. Some families even hold the custom of throwing a spoonful of kutia up onto the ceiling and, if it sticks, they hope to enjoy good luck for the year ahead.

The traditional Christmas songs or carols that the children have been learning since they started primary school quite often originated in another country and from another language. For example, the song “O Christmas Tree” was originally in German and called “O Tannenbaum.” Other songs, such as “O Holy Night” (originally a French song), “Deck the Halls” (from Wales) and “The Little Drummer Boy” (from Czech Republic) are much loved by both children and adults alike. Part of our show sees the children singing the well-known song “Silent Night” in 3 languages – English, Irish, and German, the language it was originally sung in. The lyrics, with a phonetic pronunciation are here if you’d like try it yourself:

"Silent Night" lyrics in German

Ho, Ho, Who?

Of course, one of the most exciting parts of Christmas for children is the receiving of presents. In Ireland, Santa Claus (or Daidí na Nollag in the Irish language) travels around the country on his sleigh, delivering presents to all the boys and girls who have been good. Children usually go to visit Santa in the weeks leading up to Christmas to let Santa know what they would like him to deliver to them.

Our show has a scene where Santas from other countries are being interviewed about how they deliver presents to children where they come from. In the Netherlands, Santa is called Sinterklaas. He usually travels on a white horse, wearing a tall hat with a jewelled staff in hand as he travels through the night. His companion Grumpus is said to rattle his chains at children who are naughty!

In France, Père Noël wears a long red cloak to keep warm. Children leave their shoes out by the fireplace on Christmas Eve night in the hope that they will be filled full of presents when they wake on Christmas morning.

In Russia, Ded Moroz or “Father Frost” is assisted by Snegurochka (meaning “Snow Maiden”) on Christmas Eve night. You’d better watch out though because he has been known to kidnap naughty children!

In Italy, the tradition of the jolly man wearing red is quite different! La Befana is a witch who travels around on her broomstick every year to deliver gifts to children. Sometimes, she may even sweep the floors of the houses she visits with her broomstick to sweep away any bad luck. Both the children and I had never heard of this particular tradition and many were eager to play this part in the show.

Piquing the children’s natural interest in the figure of Santa Claus provided a rich stimulus for discussion about traditions that their own families celebrated. Some children in my class contacted relatives in other countries in places as far from Ireland as Australia to hear about how they eat their Christmas dinner on the beach!

Before the Curtain Goes Up

What has been gained from looking at Christmas from an international lens? Undoubtedly, the children’s knowledge has broadened in myriad ways through our exploration of the theme “Christmas Around the World.” In investigating the traditions, foods and songs of other countries, the children have been enabled to hold a mirror up to their own traditions and see similarities and differences between their culture and the cultural identities of other boys and girls around the world. Through music, dance, and drama, the children are very tangibly realising that the holiday of Christmas may be celebrated differently around the world, but that does not make it any less special. Our show hasn’t even been performed yet, but I hope the children will remember it and what it has taught them for many years to come.

Edmond Gubbins is a 2nd and 3rd class elementary teacher from County Limerick in Ireland. Owing to his extensive work with Language Lizard during the completion of his Master’s in Education at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, he has a keen interest in multiculturalism and fostering an appreciation for diversity in his students.

Unique Multicultural Gifts for the Holidays

bilingual shirts and mugs

Celebrate diversity and show your support for bilingualism with these fun and unique gifts! Perfect for bilingual students and teachers in diverse classrooms.

Discounts on ALL Bilingual Book Sets – Available in 40+ languages!

We hand-selected our most popular titles for bilingual book sets to save you time and money. All books include English and one other language of your choice. Tailored to meet the language needs of teachers and librarians, they make ordering easy! Our book sets include the most accessible, popular, and culturally appropriate books for the children you want to reach.

Exclusive PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets are a great way to support dual language learners! We offer an extensive selection of literacy sets that include the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with our award-winning bilingual “talking books.”

Discount is applied during checkout – no code needed!

Multilingual Posters – Great for teachers with diverse classrooms!

To help you decorate your multicultural classroom or library, we are offering a discount on our multilingual poster 3-pack. This set of 3 posters lets you display “Hello,” “Thank You” and “Welcome” in over 30 languages. The discount is available online – no coupon code required.

Unique T-shirts & Mugs Celebrate Diversity and Bilingualism!

bilingual shirtsWe’re excited to offer new multicultural t-shirts that celebrate bilingualism and diversity with messages like: Welcome Your Friends (with “HELLO” in different languages), I’m Bilingual, What’s Your Superpower? and We All Smile in the Same Language.

There are many more design and color options available at our Amazon store, as well as bilingual, Spanish-only, French and German versions of some of the designs.

bilingual mugsSimilar designs promoting multiculturalism are also available on mugs! (Note that there are multiple pages.)

Gift Certificates – Let Recipients Choose What They’d Like!

Language Lizard gift certificates are great for students, teachers, librarians, and others who support dual-language children. Your recipients can choose books in over 50 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more!

You can select gift certificates in any value, add a special note of thanks, and have them sent via email within one business day!

Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month – Giveaway & Discounts Extended!

Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month is a great opportunity to recognize the many children who speak two or more languages and understand multiple cultures. Let’s encourage literacy and parental involvement, and celebrate the children who work so hard to learn a new language.

Huge Bilingual Book Giveaway – Extended!

Language Lizard has given away a surprise set of bilingual books to a new winner every month. We’ve already given away OVER $1,000 in bilingual books!

In the spirit of Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month, we’re extending our huge Bilingual Book Giveaway through the end of 2018!

New winners are selected every month, so enter today for a chance to win a surprise set of bilingual books in your choice of languages!

Discounts on all Bilingual Book Sets in over 50 languages!

Bilingual Book SetsWe’re also extending our discount on all Bilingual Book Sets. No code needed! 

We hand-selected our most popular books to save you time and money. These book sets will help you choose the most accessible, interesting, and culturally appropriate books for your little language learners.

Bilingual Summer Reading List

Whether your summer is action-packed or laid back, there are stretches of time that are perfect for getting in some bilingual reading. But what books are perfect for the long ride to grandma’s, or the quiet afternoon by the lake? We’ve brought together some of our favorite summertime reads that are sure to appeal to kids of all ages and interests. Bonus: They’ll be improving their bilingual skills. Our titles are available in English with your choice of over 50 languages! Continue reading Bilingual Summer Reading List

Diverse Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week & to Celebrate Bilingual Students

Spring is a great time to celebrate the outstanding educators and language learners in your life!

Teacher Appreciation Week & More!

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11. It’s the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to the teachers and school staff that work tirelessly to make a difference in our children’s lives. Continue reading Diverse Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week & to Celebrate Bilingual Students