Picture books are a wonderful tool for developing children’s language skills, and for multilingual families, they can be especially valuable. In this article, we’ll explore how picture books can be used to encourage conversation, build vocabulary, and develop critical thinking skills in multiple languages.
First, it’s important to note that picture books are not designed to teach children how to read. They are not phonetically based or meant to scaffold reading development. Instead, picture books are meant to provide a rich, immersive reading experience that engages children’s imaginations (a foundation for so much future learning skills) and fosters a love of storytelling.
Here are some tips for using picture books to enhance your child’s multilingual skills:
As you read together, ask open-ended questions about the story, the characters, and their feelings. This can help build vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills in both languages. For example, you might ask, “What do you think the character is feeling in this picture?” or “What do you think will happen next?
Point Out Illustrations
The illustrations in picture books are an important part of the storytelling experience. Encourage your child to describe what they see in the pictures, and ask them to explain how the illustrations contribute to the story in both languages
Explore New Vocabulary
Picture books are a great way to introduce new words and concepts to your child in multiple languages. When you come across a new word, take a moment to define it and talk about how it relates to the story in both languages. You can also ask your child to use the new word in a sentence to reinforce their understanding.
After you’ve finished reading the book, encourage your child to retell the story in their own words in both languages. This can help build comprehension and memory skills, as well as encourage creativity and imagination.
Read in Multiple Languages
Choose picture books that are available in your child’s native language as well as the language(s) you’d like to develop. Encourage your child to read or listen to the story in both languages, alternating between them.
For multilingual parents who may not be able to translate the words on the page, there are still ways to use picture books to reinforce language development. You can “read” the pictures and tell the story in your own language, encouraging your child to engage with the illustrations and participate in the storytelling experience.
Using picture books to develop your child’s multilingual skills is a fun and engaging way to encourage a love of reading and storytelling in multiple languages. Whether you’re reading to a toddler or reading with a 9-year-old, the benefits of picture books are endless. So, the next time you’re looking for a way to enhance your child’s language development, pick up a picture book, and when possible in multiple languages and enjoy the journey together.
Good Night Moon is one of my favotire picture books that has multi language editions. Below are some languages I use with students.
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