7 Tips for Raising a Bilingual Reader

Credit: serbogachuk

Raising a bilingual reader can seem like a daunting task as a parent. Indeed, you might be surprised that it’s actually way easier than it appears! Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t just magically happen. Raising a tiny human who loves reading and values books and storytelling takes patience and commitment. This is especially true if you are trying to raise them bilingual. Here are some tips to get you started:

Let’s start with the basics first! One of the most powerful ways in which you can encourage your children to pick up a book is by keeping up with your own personal reading habits. Leading by example is key. I know, parenting can take a massive toll on your reading time. But regularly picking up a book or magazine throughout the week – even if it’s just to read 5 pages – will indicate to your child that reading can be a daily activity and will make them want to model that behaviour. Bonus points if they see you switching between books written in different languages or bilingual editions.

Create daily reading rituals with them! Whether it’s reading in the afternoon after school or including time in their bed time routine to curl up with a book before sleeping, you want to integrate reading time as part of their natural daily routine. This can be adapted throughout time as they grow up and learn to become independent readers.

Part of them becoming independent readers is letting them discover what they enjoy, so allowing them to choose what to read and the way they want to read is key. With that comes letting them leave books unfinished and letting them jump between stories. Reading should feel fun and intuitive to them, rather than a forced activity or as an extension of their school work.

Encouraging them to read in whatever language they find most joy in is essential when developing their interest in reading. This can often be whatever language they speak outside of school. The National Literacy Trust has concluded from a recent report on multilingual reading attitudes in young readers that ‘for many, reading in a language other than English opens up a world of reading, with 2 in 5 (40.2%) of those who say that they generally don’t enjoy reading enjoy reading in their other language’. So if your child is struggling to enjoy reading try switching up the language that you are reading in. It might make the world of a difference!

Have a variety of books available around the house and create a reading-friendly environment for them. These two go hand-in-hand. Facilitating access is fundamental in raising a bilingual reader. This can be achieved by organising regular library trips, placing the books with their covers faced out and at eye-level so that children can reach for the books themselves, placing a reading light next to their bed or, if you are feeling really creative, creating a cool reading nook in one of the corners of the house. This also means making sure that they have books available in their different languages so that they are in contact with stories written in both languages.

What methods do you follow to encourage a reading habit at home? How do you make sure that your child is in contact with their two languages when reading? Let us know!

Paula van Eenennaam Sánchez
Paula van Eenennaam Sánchez

Paula is a publishing media graduate from Oxford Brookes University and a comparative literature postgraduate from King’s College London. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies in literature and the environment at the University of Plymouth. She is a digital marketer and social media manager and has been a Peculiar Press collaborator since 2020.

Rainbow Resources: Activities to work on gender identity, diversity and LGBTQIA+ rights with your children

Hello Peculiar Reader and welcome to our first official blog post!

Today we would like to share with you an amazing guide we found when we were researching on LGBTQIA+ rights, diversity and inclusion of queer children in education during the last pride month.

In the Rainbow Resources guide, a project supported by the Council of Europe, you will find lots of activities to work on gender identity, diversity and LGBTQIA+ rights in the classroom or at home. The guide has the important work of teachers and educators at heart. Starting with a theoretical section with different pieces of information and reflections, the guide focuses on supporting educators in their work.

Activities and group dynamics about LGBTQIA+ rights, diversity and gender identity

The second part of the Spanish publication is more practical, as it proposes over 30 activities and group dynamics about diversity and gender identity. The exercises proposed in the Rainbow Resources encourage reflection, empathy and the questioning of stereotypes that we have internalised. We would love to share two of our favourite activities with you:

Inside and Outside (p. 30)

No material needed!

To play this game in class, the kids should stand in circle. Then, the teacher should make different kinds of statements, for example: “Everyone wearing glasses” or “Everyone who has siblings”. The children to whom these statements apply should then make a step towards the middle of the circle. Depending on the age and the dynamics of the group, different topics can be addressed using this game. The goal is to show children that everyone shares similarities and that differences are natural. Talk with them about how they felt when being in a minority group, so they develop openness and empathy.

A Genderless Story (p. 34)

Material: Paper and crayons or colour pencils.

The aim of this activity is to teach children about the power of words and their role in building gender stereotypes. To use this exercise in class, prepare a story about a kid, perhaps about a day in their life, without specifying their gender. Give each child a sheet of paper where they can draw the character whilst you tell them the story. Once the story is over, talk about why each of them has imagined the person the way they have. This is a good chance to challenge gender stereotypes and learn to be aware about our own misconceptions – both the pupils’ and the teachers’.

We hope you enjoyed these proposals and you will be able to implement them with your class or at home. Let us know in the comments how it went and if you have found them useful!

Sara Capó Bucher
Sara Capó Bucher

Sara studies comparative literature and journalism at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Germany). She works as a translator for the German public television and has been a Peculiar Press collaborator since 2020.

Welcome to The Peculiar Press Blog

Dear Peculiar Reader,

Welcome to the official Peculiar Press blog – a space that celebrates our passion for storytelling, bilingualism and education!

So far, we’ve loved embarking on the amazing publishing journey of producing beautiful bilingual books for children. But we believe that we are capable of so much more than that. During our journey we have had the pleasure of meeting so many people that have shared their stories and experiences with us. Whether that be children, booksellers, parents, or educators, we have all found ourselves in between cultures, languages and identities – what we like to call the Peculiar space. We are opening this space up to build a community of infinitely-different, like-minded people that share a passion for books, languages, diversity, and learning.

So what can you expect from us? We’ll be using this space to share a curated selection of articles, resources, and reflection pieces on bilingualism, literacy, and diversity and inclusion, in children’s publishing and education – all of which are at the heart of what Peculiar Press values and stands for.

We hope that you can find in here a space in which you can discuss, engage and indulge in the pleasures of being Peculiar. We can’t wait to share everything that is in store with you!

The Peculiar Press Team

Peculiar Press
Peculiar Press

Peculiar Press is an Oxford-based independent publishing house. We believe in the power of storytelling, multilingualism, and inclusivity in children’s literature.