Do picture books help children learn another language?
This week we are really blessed to guest blog from the lovely Nathalie. We met on twitter and have a shared love for picture books and puppets. So over to Nathalie.
For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved books and been surrounded by them. When my children (now 12 and 15) were born and I decided to bring them up bilingual (English and French) I am convinced books played a major part in their success… thanks to my parents who always bought so many stories for them! I read to Leah and Max in French every day and they learnt naturally, without any lessons, to read French; Max read so much by himself he taught himself to write in French too. However I never actually thought of making it part of my business until I had so many children’s books that I started to wonder what I was going to do with them! Books in English and books for adults I never kept you see; I believe books are only alive if they are being read and shared and it was easy to give them away, but books in French… Well they were too heavy to take back to France and I didn’t know anyone in the UK who would appreciate them! My dream was to open a French library; then my best friend came up with the amazing idea of a mobile library!
You can check out photos of the bus on my website: http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/
The books I travel around with on my Bibliobook are mostly picture books. Why, might you ask, should anyone want to pay me to go and tell a story to their children in French? If you attend any of Sarah’s classes I am sure you are not asking yourself this question as she is a fan of books (and puppets!) herself. We all accept that stories in their native language are good for our children and they are encouraged to be read to and to read from a very young age. Moreover research shows that sharing stories in a second language (even without being bilingual) helps to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills! (more about various research projects here http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/spip.php?article114) Children still love books as real objects; they enjoy sitting on the carpet and listening to a story, even more so if they can act it out with props! This we do on le Bibliobook whilst surrounded by nearly 2000 French books!! It is great fun and we know our children will learn better and be more motivated when they have fun… Not just little ones either!
If you do not have access to authentic books in another language, please check out One Third Stories for virtual stories which start in English and end in another language. That’s another great fun way of learning with stories!
So if you get the chance to, please take your children to storytelling sessions (in any language!) and keep reading to them or with them (in any language you can too!). You and they will never wish you hadn’t done it!
Natalie writes weekly blogs about picture books that are great for language learning.