Episode 56: Q&A – How can I find books in my target language?

Episode 56

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I answer a listener’s question regarding books. I share eight ideas on how to find books in the target language for parents that are having difficulty finding books.

Episode #56- Transcript

Hello! Welcome to another Question and Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast!

I’m excited to join you another and as always want to thank you for taking the time to tune in to the show!

This week we are addressing an email related to one of my favorite topics, books and reading!  Let me read you the email that came in via email:

Hi Marianna,

Just a quick question for you here.  I’m finding a hard time finding books in Italian for my children.  I am translating on the go but you know how that is.  Sometimes I just want to be able to read the text and not have to make it up as I go.  Any suggestions on how to find books in other languages?  Thanks for all that you do, big fan of the show.


Thanks Tatiana the kind words and for sending in your question and for allowing me to share it with the Bilingual Avenue community so we can all learn from our challenges and our wins!

What I’d like to do today is give you a list of all the different ways that I use or know that others use to find books in the target language. I have eight ideas for you and I’ll list each one of you here.  However, if you want to revisit any of these, you can always check out the show notes page for this episode at bilingualavenue.com/episode56

Alright, here goes my list –

#1. Take advantage of trips to communities that speak your target language – On episode 48 of the podcast, we chatted about how to maximize any trips to an area that speaks your target language.  One of my suggestions then and one that I’d like to add for today’s episode is that if the opportunity arises, you should pick up as many books as you can afford or have room for in your suitcase to take back home.  What I also pointed out in that episode, is that you don’t necessarily want to pick up books that are relevant for your children right this moment.  You may want to plan ahead and buy a few books that will be appropriate a bit later so that you are able to keep up with the growing language needs of your children as they get older.

#2. Your local library – Don’t’ underestimate your good ole brick and mortar local library.  Many of them have language sections where you may be able to find books in your target language.  The selection may still be limited but it should be one of your first step.  The beauty here is that if you are able to find a book in your library, library books are free.  Just make sure to return them on time! Also, creating a habit of going to the library with your child is a wonderful habit to instill from an early age so there are multiple benefits that you can gain from visiting your local library.

#3. Audio Books – I’ve talked about this resource before! I am a big fan of Audible, they are the leading provider of digital audiobooks. They have over 150,000 audio books with a selection of children’s books in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Russian.  If you are working on any of these languages at home, I strongly recommend checking them out.   If you head over to BilingualAvenueBooks.com you’ll get a special offer.  You can check out their selection and find some books that may work for your reading routine.  By using the BilingualAvenuebooks.com link, you will have access to a free audiobook of your choice at no cost to you.  You’ll also get a free 30-day trial membership to see if this is a resource that can enhance reading and help support the language needs of your family.

Now the BilingualAvenueBooks.com link is an affiliate link meaning I will get a small commission if you choose to use Audible but either way what I am trying to convey here is that audio in general can be a great resource and you may be able to find it in your target language.

 #4. Order books online – Visiting a local library is a great idea but the truth is that you may not find everything you are look for.  So another idea is to leverage technology and the internet.  You can start out by looking at websites like Amazon.com to see if you can find books in your target language.  That’s a great starting point but I wouldn’t suggest that you stop there.  I would encourage you to look at websites from regions that speak your target language and see if any of them deliver internationally.  I’ve looked at websites from Spain in the past just so I can broaden the selection of children’s Spanish books available to me!

#5. Organize a book exchange – If you happen to know other multilingual families that are supporting your target language consider the idea of exchanging books for a while so that your children have exposure to more books.  Book exchanges can be simple or they can be elaborate.  You can start by just exchanging with one other family.  Now if you know a large group that is working on your target language, then consider creating a much broader exchange.  Draft some norms or rules so that all members in the exchange understand the expectations.  You can create a mailing listserv or even a closed Facebook group so everyone knows what books will be exchanged and when it’s time to exchange the books.  You can even get really creative and create little library check out cards that you can add to the back cover of the book and each child that reads the books, can then write their name down so you have a little history of where the book has been and whose read it!  We did this in my classroom and it was a lot of fun and it is certainly something you can do with a group.

#6. Check the local bookstore – We’ve talked about libraries and now we are talking about bookstores. In many communities, bookstores are slowly going away because of it is hard to compete with the internet but in other communities bookstores are still thriving.  They are certainly worth checking out.  Many of them have language sections that offer children’s books in a variety of languages so they are also worth looking into.

#7. Make your own handmade books – If you simply can’t find books in your language, consider taking matters into your own hands.  This can actually be a really fun activity to do with your children.  You can use magazines for example for pictures for your books and handwrite the text that tells the story.  You can also have your child help you write the story.  You can show them the picture and let them use their creativity to develop the plot.  If they are already writing, have them be the ones that write.  If not, you can write them down as they dictate the story to you.

#8. Make your own digital book –On a previous episode, I shared with you how the blogger behind Fluent Family, Terri creates her own digital books and I just love this idea.  In case you missed this episode, let me share with you how she does it. She picks the topic of the story she wants to write about and then using a website called Simplebooklet.com she adds texts and pictures to each page.  The result is a personalized booklet that can be viewed on any device yet as Terri points out the fun part is that it is interactive.  You can use this at home too with your kids.  Once you have made the booklet, you and your children can click on an icon causing the book to turn, and then you can record audio that can go along with each page so if you are interested in this approach I am going to have a link to the website on the show notes page. Again, you can check that out at bilingualavenue.com/episode56

Alright, these are my eight global ideas that can help you identify and find books in your target language.

If you are working on French at home by any chance and you live in the United States, I have one more resource to share with you.  We first learned about this resource back on episode 3 with Michele Cherie.  The resource is called Les Petits Livres.  I will have the link to the website on the show notes page.

Les Petits Livres is actually an online service where you can rent books in French for children from ages 0 to 12.  Think of it as a hybrid between a local library and Netflix. If this is applicable to you, it’s certainly a service worth checking out.

The last idea I want to share with you is that if you are still struggling to find books in your target language considering asking multilingual groups online for some extra ideas. On the last Question and Answer edition episode, I shared with you one Facebook group in particular Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children which has over 10,000 members.  One of the most common questions in this group is from parents speaking a particular target language asking others where they can find books in that language.  Not only will you likely walk away with some ideas but you’ll also identify other parents who are working on the same target language and can provide support to you on the language journey in the future.  So if you are just not having any luck try this group and you may just find what you are looking for!

Well Tatiana and everyone else tuning in today, I hope you found this week’s answer helpful! Remember that you can ask a question too! Just shoot me a note or leave me an audio message and we’ll answer it on a future podcast!

That’s all for this week!

May you have fun travels on your language journey.  Hope to see you again on the Avenue!



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