Friday, March 15, 2019

My New French-Language Children's Book Haul

I've mentioned this before, but one of the challenges of having the children learn a second language is creating a language-rich environment for them to learn in.

I mean, when you want your kids to learn English, you speak in English to them, play music in English, watch TV in English, point out all the English signage, read lots and lots and lots of books in English, give them lots of toys with English words and letters.

Now imagine trying to help them learn French while you live in the middle of Indiana and don't, yourself, know French.

I'll tell you more some other time about the ways I'm slowly figuring out to enrich the children's environment with French-language music and TV and signage and toys, but for now, let's talk French-language children's books.

I started our French-language children's book collection last summer, when we visited a French-language bookstore in Quebec City. It was a little more challenging than I'd thought it would be, because I didn't realize until I got there that a lot is actually published in Quebecoise, but I figured it out.

But the REAL goal would be to get into a French-language bookstore IN France, you know?

One morning, my awesomest friend texted me that she was, right that second, at 7:00 am Eastern time, standing, in fact, in a French-language bookstore in Paris. She'd just purchased a new suitcase, was heading back to the states the next day, and was happy, she informed me, to walk around this bookstore, describing everything to me and texting me pics, while I filled her suitcase with French-language books.

That's a true friend, right? I mean, would YOU be willing to haul a suitcase full of someone else's books on a trans-Atlantic flight?

She also brought back a bunch of maps and French-language tourist brochures and magazines and stuff, because ephemera is very important to a language-rich environment.

Check out my haul!

A couple of these books are aspirational, simply because I can't imagine having a good French-language children's book collection without them even if the children can't read them yet:

The rest, however, are picture books or early reader books that I think the kids have a shot at understanding. Here are some:

My friend even brought me a couple of magazines!

The kids can't read any of them fluently yet, but, as with any young English-learner, they enjoy looking through them, absorbing the illustrations, picking out words, imagining the story based on prior knowledge and the information in front of them.

That's a crucial part of the literacy process, all that work that you do with language before you can read it. The first time the kids experienced it, I was so busy with parenting that I forgot to savor it, but this time, every time I catch Syd in bed with our big French-language Garfield collection, or she shows me a text that she sent in French to a friend to tease her (French composition! Unprompted!), or I see Will sitting on the couch deep into one of those little histories, picking up who knows how much because she certainly unlocked written English without my help?

This time I savor it.

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