Bilingual children: why reading is important, part 2 of 3

Books

This is the second instalment in my series on why I think reading is so important for all children and especially so for children in families with more than one language.

Expands the vocabulary

It is a given that reading is an excellent way of teaching your children new words in the languages they are learning. If you happen to be the minority language parent or maybe even the only person talking your language to your child, it is not always easy to find a natural way of using certain words in everyday discussions. Reading about a topic is a good way of introducing new words. In a book a words get a wider context which helps to memorise them, as do pictures that go with the text.

Improves communication skills

With a more extensive vocabulary your children can express themselves better in different situations. For bilingual children, this makes reading particularly important for the exposure to the minority language, as they might not come in contact with so many different speakers of the language in their day to day lives.

Spurs the imagination

Fictional characters, adventures and places inspire children’s imagination, making them more creative in their own language use as well as writing. I am sure several imaginary friends have had traits of characters from books!

Opens your mind

Reading about different people, places and ways of living and also helps children (and adults for that matter) be more open-minded about new concepts and ideas. The goal for most multilingual families is to raise happy, tolerant, global citizens – being open-minded is at the heart of such a goal.

Develops empathy

By reading about other’s experiences, children learn how to put themselves into other people’s shoes. Their understanding of what someone is feeling is improved every time they get emotionally involved in book characters’ lives. This helps them be more empathetic in real life as well.

Reduces anxiety

Children are often afraid of new experiences, which is understandable. There are the big occasions in life such as the first day of school, a new sister or a brother or a move to a different country or just a different house down the road or simply the first night away without mum or dad. Reading about how other children have coped in these situations allows your child to feel more relaxed and prepared for the situation.

Books are good company

Children who have learnt to love books will always have company. When they learn to read themselves, books are the friends that are always there for them, ready to keep them entertained. A child that enjoys reading rarely uses the words “I’m bored!” Books are also very convenient: easy to take with you anywhere, hard to break and don’t need batteries!

You can find part one of the series here. If you have enjoyed the two first posts of the series, I invite you to come back for the last part in a couple of days. In the last of the series I will also include links to other parent bloggers thoughts about books and reading.

May the peace and power be with you.

Yours,
Rita

© Rita Rosenback 2014

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Categories: Practical advice

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6 replies

  1. Hello Rita,
    I was waiting for this post, thank you!
    Growing up as a child surrounded by books, I can tell that every word you wrote here is true. Books became my friends, and as you said, they don’t need batteries!
    Reading with your children is a very good way to introduce them to books in a very early age; I am a proof of that, I always have a book near me, and never leave home without one.
    Regards,

    • Sounds like you had very wise parents that made sure you learned to love books at an early age. It is truly something we carry on through to adulthood and it will be passed on to our children as well. Thank you for your comment!

  2. Rita, I really enjoy these posts! I love the topic. I wrote a similar post a while ago (why reading is important for multilingual children) and did just pin back to these two posts (and am looking forward to part 3!).

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