Bilingual Reading, by Aline S. Iniestra

book fiesta“Hurray! Today is our day.
El día de los niños.
Let’s have fun today
reading our favorite books.
Toon! Toon!

Children’s day, book day!

¡Viva! Hoy es nuestro día.
El día de los niños.
Nos vamos a divertir
con nuestros libros favoritos.
¡Tun tun!

El día de los niños. El día de los libros.”

From Book Fiesta by Pat Mora. Illustrated by Rafael López.

As parents, we want to make sure our children read all kinds of texts that will enrich their lives in a lot of ways; something that will feed their imagination, emotions, learning.

They need those texts that will help them grow, be inspired and have fun. But what happens when we have a bilingual child?

Language is our means of communication, and being able to do so in two languages makes things even better. It is fun and it is useful. It helps our children see differently, perceive other ideas, other cultures, other minds, expand their knowledge and express themselves in more ways than we could imagine.

Children learn a lot from reading. The need for more bilingual books is growing along with the multicultural population we have. The need is for all children, American and foreign.

A child that reads the same book or story in two languages will learn new vocabulary, new ways of talking, new everything.

My son speaks English but I am teaching him Spanish. He has a couple of bilingual
books that have helped him acquire vocabulary and the tickle to travel to Mexico (my birthplace), as well as other countries. His curiosity for learning other languages is growing, and so far he has managed to learn numbers from 1-10 in 11 different languages. It helps that he finds this really fun. So that’s where it all comes to, having fun while learning! And probably without even knowing it is some kind of “studying”.

The book Mañana Iguana by Ann Whitford is very simple, has a funny story with a moral, is bilingual and has great illustrations by Ethan Long. The book is short and the repetition of words is what makes the child learn faster and easier in Spanish. Besides, it has a glossary with the words in Spanish, their translation into English and an almost accurate way to pronounce the words.

As a translator, I have been thinking on how to make more of these kinds of books available for more children. And I will do that, in time. For now, I keep providing my son with materials that he finds entertaining and funny…and educational of course.

About Aline: I’m a freelance translator with the goal of becoming a literary translator. I love reading but most of all I love to be able to transmit what authors write into another language so others can enjoy a good book, cultures, minds.


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