Bilingual is Better

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I forgot how much we enjoy it…

It’s totally true what they say about second children being a bit neglected. I’m guilty. I remember I started reading to my daughter, Vanessa, a few days after we brought her home from the hospital. Unfortunately, such has not been the case with my son. I could go on to list the myriad of reasons why, but I guess the most important thing is to just change it.

I do have to say that one of the reasons is that I actually stopped reading to Vanessa on a regular basis. I mean, we have books all over the house and we read all the time, but I have kind of dropped one of her favorite rituals: reading at bedtime. So, just a couple of days ago, we went back to it and I wanted to kick myself for having abandoned such a special time with my daughter—especially because I’m a huge reader.

The best part of going back to reading at bedtime is that I get to share this ritual with both my kids. And, because Vanessa wants to prove at all times that she is la hermana mayor, she gets to be really involved in the process of choosing books, some for her and some for her baby brother.

I have been thrilled to see my daughter’s joy in sharing what used to be her baby books with her brother. She is gentle and patient while she “reads” to him and he can’t hide his happiness. Why didn’t I do this before?

Reading is one of the best ways of reinforcing language and it can be so much fun!

Tips for reading to your niños:

1. The time is now! Your baby is never too young to be read to, so go ahead and start reading to him today!

2. Read to your children with interest, make up funny voices and noises to go along with what you’re reading. If you show you’re into it, your child will be too.

3. It’s a good idea to choose a specific time to read to your kids that way it becomes part of the routine and it’s something you can all look forward to doing together. As I mentioned above, for us, it’s always been at bedtime.

4. That said, it’s never the wrong time to read. We actually have books pretty much everywhere around the house, the car and even in the diaper bag. Vanessa loves to read in the car and I’ve found they’re a great way to keep her entertained and occupied if we’re ever waiting for something. In fact, my baby boy just got one of those chunky baby board books at his last check-up and I keep that one in his car seat. He loves looking at the colorful pictures, but mostly he just chews on it!

5. This might sound funny or even unnecessary, but the best ways to store your kids’ books—other than within their reach—is to have the cover face out (instead of the spine) so your niño can actually choose them based on the colors and pictures they see. They do take up a lot more space, but I’ve noticed my daughter gravitates more to the ones stored like that than the other more traditional way.

6. Take a trip to your local library. We try to do this on a weekly basis. My daughter loves it there! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, librarians are a great source of information. On a recent trip to the library, the children’s librarian helped me locate some books she thought would help me in my attempt to start teaching Vanessa how to read in Spanish.

I leave you with a piece of information I found incredibly interesting and was news to me. According to reading researcher John Guthrie, students “whose family background was characterized by low income and low education, but who were highly engaged readers, substantially outscored students who came from backgrounds with higher education and higher income, but who themselves were less engaged readers. Based on a massive sample, this finding suggests the stunning conclusion that engaged reading can overcome traditional barriers to reading achievement, including gender, parental education, and income.”

Talk about the power of reading…

What have you done to get your kids hooked on reading?

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