Archive for March, 2012

March Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism

March 22, 2012 5 comments

Welcome to the March Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism! I am grateful for the opportunity to read your thoughtful and practical posts about this difficult job of raising kids bilingually and biculturally or multilingually and multiculturally.

Dominique of Dominique’s Desk in her story Raising a Multilingual Toddler outlines a specific method she uses to teach her toddler daughter English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Maria of Busy as a Bee in Paris in her post Playing Board Games to Increase Language Expression in a Foreign Language  tells us about how board games  can help increase proficiency in a foreign language.

Maria of Busy as a Bee in Paris and Elizabeth of La Mother Tongue both share with us a New York Times article Why Bilinguals Are Smarter. The article lists, explains, and provides supporting research on many benefits of bilingualism.

Amanda’s post Bilingual Babies – Finding Second Language Resources offers some great ideas on how to expand on your resources for teaching a second language to your children. Kim’s post Bilingual Babies: Holi Fun to Welcome Spring offers steps for making a Holi T-shirt to celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors. Amanda and Kim blog at

Sarah of  Bringing Up Baby Bilingual in her post Give Me a Sign, Baby!  shares her experience of teaching her seven-month-old daughter Gwyneth sign language for babies. She includes a lot of information on the methods and resources she likes to use.

Lynn of Open Hearts, Open Minds in her post A Bilingual Parenting Fail shares her experience of a missed opportunity to speak Spanish to her son, self-doubting, coming to terms with the fact that she is not a native speaker of the second language she teaches to her son and the lessons learned so far.

Jenn of Perogies & Gyoza in her post Writing Names in Multiple Languages tells us about all the considerations she took into account when  deciding to write her daughter’s name in the minority language (English) on the name labels that will come with her daughter to the kindergarten.

Cordelia of Multilingual Mama shares a story about being driven all around her new home town of Bangkok, along with her two children, by an inexperienced non-English-speaking cabdriver.  Cordealia talks about her vulnerability and new determination to learn Thai.

Giovanna of Itala Bimbi  in her post Bilingual Brain: One or Two Systems? explores the issue of possible interference between languages in a bilingual child.

And, as a last-minute addition, Salma of Chasing Rainbow introduces us to La flaque d’eau (The Puddle) by David M. McPhail, a book in French she read to her children this week.

To find out more about this monthly blogging “event,” Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, or sign up to host it, visit the carnival page at


Children’s Literature

March 20, 2012 4 comments

Why do I find it so hard and time-consuming to find decent books for my two-and-a-half-year-old son?

OK, I am not talking about the books in Serbian. For those books, I rely on my mother’s taste. Sometimes I wish she sent us some books that met the following criteria: 1) not a Brothers Grimm fairy tale; 2) not an Aesop fable.  Despite the fact that I love The Brothers Grimm’s and Aesop’s stories  (I grew up with them), I’d like to be able to introduce my son to a piece of contemporary, possibly imaginative and capturing, piece of Serbian children’s literature. But, ultimately, I am grateful for whatever books I receive from my mother. I use whatever tools I can think of (different voices, my hands, etc.) to keep Andrei’s interest in the books.

But this post is really about books in English. Just regular children’s books that fill libraries and bookstores. What puzzles me is how much time I spend in libraries and bookstores to eventually find two or three decent books that are appropriate for Andrei’s age.

The first problem is a matter of logistics. How does one organize “picture books”? Usually, they are called just “picture books,” I guess because they have pictures. OK, that makes sense. However, I feel there is a big difference between the books I read to Andrei when he was one and the books I read to him now when he is two and a half. And, in a year or two, I imagine I’ll be reading him some quite different picture books because he will be able to handle so many more words for each picture he sees. So, it seems logical to me that “picture books” could be organized by age (maybe something like 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, whatever). The bottom line is that it would be incredibly helpful if there was a section with books that included a single line/picture, and then another one that included books with maybe a paragraph of text/picture, and finally a section with books that included multiple paragraphs/picture.

Finding the right content for my son I find even harder. Now, remember, my son is two and a half and quite distractible in an environment such as the library or bookstore, and with no interest in selecting any books himself, although with a very refined  taste once we are at home reading. So, I am the one whose job is to choose the right books. Now, what is my definition of the “right,” good, decent children’s books? Honestly, I expect the same combination of qualities that I look for in the books I select for myself. A fresh, imaginative story that will take me to a new mental and emotional place; imaginative, poetic language that will delight me, surprise me, make me feel like I touched on a place I have never touched on before. And in Andrei’s case, I’d like to see pictures that have life in them and evoke interest, compassion, connection. Read more…

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