We are lucky to have a text rich household – every room of the house has books in it.
We are even luckier to have some French books around the house – ones from traveling friends, some (like the dolphin book above) found at a Goodwill, and others found on Amazon.
Mon Cœur loves reading books and loves to pick them out. Aunt Sissy and I are the only ones that speak French in the family, and sometimes Mon Cœur will pick a French book out to be read by Chou chou or MooMa or anybody else. The typical reaction is (reader opening book), “Oh, your Mommy has to read you this book,” or, “Let’s pick another book,” or “I can’t read this to you.”
To which I (gasp! pause.) respond, “You can read it, too. In English.” This is something we always encouraged our ELL parents to do, too. So you can’t read the language of the text…You can read the pictures! Make up a story, point to different things in the picture, use your language to provide input for the child. The important thing is you are labelling a picture/action/idea/thing and providing vocabulary to the child, with whichever language you are most comfortable. The child is still “reading” a book and understanding the value of literacy. They are still learning through routine how a book is read by opening the cover, turning the page, etc.
One of Mon Cœur’s favorite books is Dans la forêt (In the Forest). For about a month, she would have Chou chou read it to her at bedtime. Chou chou doesn’t speak French, but he knows the woodland animals a whole lot better than I do – he “read” that book to her every night for a month. After a couple of weeks he was so proud when he would ask, “Where is the mommy deer?” and she would point to it. Then, Mon Cœur began pointing to various animals and teaching me “otter” and “badger” and all sorts of other creatures. The important thing was that my husband and our daughter were bonding, reading, and she was getting some vocabulary, too!
I was also taking the opportunity to learn and label these animals in French. Even I have to double check a word or pronunciation in the books sometimes, but we all make it through the book in French or English, and we all learn a little something (about a language or ourselves) along the way.
I was pleasantly surprised when, just last night Mon Cœur’s NC Grandma was reading a French book to her. I was sitting in the other room having a coffee, and I could hear, “Rainbow. Rainbows come after the rain in springtime. Did you know that?” And I immediately thought, she’s reading her the Winnie l’Ourson Saisons (seasons) book. A big grin came across my face. I never once heard, “Mommy has to read this to you.”