When raising multilingual children, many times we end up exposing our children to much more than just language. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once wisely said “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” By speaking more than one language, we can open the door to other cultures and connect with others that we would otherwise maybe not even have a chance to know.
One of my favorite ways to teach my students in the classroom, and now my own child at home, about the world is through books! I often talk about the magic and power of books for enhancing language development, fluency and reading comprehensions. But really that is only the beginning…
This past year we have had the privilege of traveling to some incredible places throughout Western Europe. The only issue is that my little one is only two and unfortunately she will not remember these amazing visits. At the end of the day, I will have three things to help me relive these moments with her: 1) the endless pictures I have taken, 2) the memories we have shared and 3) books about the places we have visited/cultures we have experienced!
- Books can teach your children about the world!
Short of travel, books are one of the most powerful tools to help your children learn about the world around them. Depending on your child’s age, the concept of a “world” can feel very abstract. Books can help you bridge that gap. Here are some of my favorite books to help make this concept more concrete in fun and creative ways.
- A Life Like Mine – Children from all over the globe lead their lives in different and fascinating ways and this text, published by UNICEF, does an excellent job at presenting it to young learners.
- My Granny Went to the Market – Travel with Granny around the world on her magic carpet ride as she gathers unique treasures from each of the places she visits.
- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World – If you are craving an apple pie and the market happens to be closed, there is no other option than traveling to every corner of the world to find the needed ingredients!
- If the World Were a Village Book – Let’s pretend for a moment that the world is just a village made up of 100 people. This book helps to translate complicated statistics about the world’s population into this little village.
- Books can introduce your children to different cultures!
Where you live can play a big role on the amount of diversity your child is exposed to from an early age. As your children get older, they will gain an ability to put both cultural and racial differences into perspective. This is why it is important that we prepare them to thrive in diverse settings and help them develop an appreciation for other cultures.
Books are an excellent resource to help you on this task! Here are some useful books to introduce your children to different cultures.
- Global Babies – A simple yet telling books with photos of babies around the world presented in their cultural context.
- Shades of People – A book introducing skin tones to children which can open up the door for future conversations.
- Let’s Eat: What Children Eat Around the World – A great introduction of typical foods around the globe.
- One World, One Day – Powerful photographs conveying different daily lives around the world.
- Books can build on your children’s character education!
When I think about the word citizen, I can’t help but think about the good traits and core values we need our society members to embody. I see my role as a parent, when raising a world citizen, to pass on values such as respect, justice, civic virtue, honesty, gratitude, compassion, generosity, service, and responsibility for self and others to name just a few. My list is really endless.
Books can help you tackle and teach your children about these positive traits. Here are some helpful books to teach your child about their role as a world citizen in our global society.
- A Chair for My Mother – (Generosity) Rose, her mother and grandmother are touched by the generosity of their neighbors as they help them rebuild after a fire burned down all their possessions.
- The Honest to Goodness Truth – (Honesty) A wonderful story about the right way and the wrong way to tell the truth.
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee – (Compassion) When their loyal friend Amos gets sick, all his zoo animal friends decide to cheer him up by demonstrating how much they love him.
- Just So Thankful – (Gratitude) After being jealous of some of the materials thing a friend has, Little Critter realizes how grateful he is for the family he does have.
- Books can help your children make connections about the world around them!
Making Connections is a reading comprehension strategy based on the idea that an individual’s previous experiences and background knowledge can affect the way he or she learns and understands literature. Making connections encourages students to “connect” with the text in ways that are very relatable to them. Tapping into their prior knowledge and experience is a great place to start because every child has experiences, emotions even opinions that they can leverage to better understand books.
Yet making connections is more than just a reading comprehension strategy. It can help our children internalize their similarities with others around the world. Just like we want to take the time to teach our children about our diversity, we also want to help them understand our interdependencies and resemblances. Books are a great starting point to help your child make those connections and here are some texts to help you get started.
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – A story of little babies around the world who despite their differences at the end of the day all have ten little fingers and ten little toes.
- To Be a Kid – “No matter what the culture or the language, the climate or the customs, kids will be kids.” This book helps to demonstrate to children that all around the world, kids at the very core, just want to have fun.
I hope you enjoy this recommendations and find ways to leverage books beyond just language development. They can be your gateway and help you introduce your children to the world around them.