Bilingual is Better

This contest is now closed. We’ll announce the winner shortly!

We’re doing something a little bit different for this month’s installment of ReadMe. Instead of showcasing a book’s author, we’d actually like to introduce you to a brand new bilingual publishing house which we support 100%. First because we truly believe in what the publishers are doing and second because their products are different and, simply put, cool and innovative!

It’s called Bilingual Readers – we’ve linked to their blog’s articles in the past, so you might already know about them – and their first two bilingual books just came off the presses. (We’ll be talking about them over at SpanglishBabyFinds soon.) The third one, Marina and the Little Green Boy – which I’ll be reviewing today – is not even available until November.

Today’s ReadMe bilingual book is the story of a little girl, Marina, and an unlikely friend, a little green Martian who suddenly appears in her attic. Together they explore Marina’s house and her family life with the little girl as the teacher and the little green boy as a pupil. The imaginative story and its quirky illustrations are alluring because in the process of learning about his new world, the little Martian does a series of crazy and funny things that would have any child laughing.

The best part is that the pages are sprinkled with words describing certain illustration (such as: roof/tejado and plug/enchufe) which can help children learn basic vocabulary in both English and Spanish. There is, however, something else to this story.

“On one level, Marina y el niño verde is a children’s comedy about two friends from very different worlds,” explained Deanna Lyles, Bilingual Readers founder. “On a deeper level, the author, Antonio Vicente, also did a great job of including a more subtle message to teach children values such as integration, respect and tolerance.”

In other words, it’s not just a funny story about a little Martian. The book can also be use to help children understand the values mentioned above – so important in today’s multicultural societies  – in a simple manner.

Marina and the little green boy is the first in a series by author Miguel Ordóñez and illustrator Antonio Vicente who “put their together and created this fabulous story line with adorable and incredibly funny characters” which the publishers absolutely love. I can’t wait to see what the rest are going to be like. (Can you tell I L-O-V-E books?)

“One of our first ideas was to publish a series about “first experiences” for small children. Each book in the series would deal with a new experience that children all over the world could relate to. Our idea was to create a character or series of characters that would hold a child’s attention and give continuity to the first story,” said Lyles. “The truth is that Marina y el niño verde was just begging to be a series because one book just isn’t enough!”

Bilingual Readers, a small independent publishing company based in Madrid, Spain, is the creation of Lyles and her husband  Íñigo Gil.

“Íñigo and I began doing extensive research on bilingual language acquisition, early children’s literacy skills and multilingual parenting techniques in order to be as prepared as possible for raising our own bilingual children someday,” according to Lyles. “We were both fascinated by the important role reading plays in monolingual language development and could only conclude that reading was even more important for reinforcing language skills in bilingual children.”

Deanna Lyles

It didn’t hurt that both Lyles and Gil have worked in publishing for years.

“We plan to publish at least 12 titles during our first year, and gradually build a collection of bilingual books for modern parents who are interested in exposing their children to languages through reading at an early age,” Lyles said.

Íñigo Gil

Check out the rest of the interview I conducted via email with Lyles to find out more about Bilingual Readers’ philosophy and you’ll quickly see why we are fans:

SB – Why publish bilingual books?

“While reading monolingual books out loud to children is certainly beneficial, bilingual books are especially beneficial for bilingual families. For example, if one parent reads a book to a child in English and the other parent reads the same book in Spanish, the child will automatically begin to associate both languages with the stories and objects on the pages of the book.”

SB – How would you say parents raising bilingual children can “use” your books?

“Each book is different and can be used in different ways to help young children develop language and early literacy skills.  Stories like Marina y el niño verde are great for reinforcing vocabulary and sentence structure. Free audio files are available on our web site in both languages for parents to use. Of course, the most important thing parents can do with our books is use them to help show their kids how fun reading can be, so that they’ll be motivated to keep reading as they grow.”

The Giveaway:

Unfortunately, neither one of Bilingual Readers’ three books are available in the U.S. yet, but both Lyles and Gil are working hard to change that. In the meantime, as you probably know by now, part of ReadMe includes the opportunity to win a copy of the book being reviewed. In this case, it’ll be sent to you all the way from la madre patria. To win, all you have to do is visit Bilingual Readers site and come back to leave us a comment about something you learned while you were there. It’s that easy!

Giveaway rules.

This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009.  Only valid U.S. shipping addresses.

Entries/Comments that do not follow the submission guidelines will be invalid and automatically deleted.  Sorry, just need to keep  it fair. Good luck to all!

Remember to be on the lookout for a review of Bilingual Readers’ other two books, Easy Alphabet!/¡Abecedario fácil! and Two Little Libros: Sea Animals/Animales del mar and Jungle Animales/Animales de la selva over at SpanglishBabyFinds in the weeks to come. I promise you’ll fall in love with them as quickly as I did!

Recent Posts