National Reading Month: 3 Hacks to Building A Strong, Bilingual Reader

National Reading Month: 3 Hacks to Building A Strong, Bilingual Reader

Although Easter steals the March thunder this year, we also want to give National Reading Month the spotlight it deserves! Not only is reading crucial for building language skills and vocabulary in children, but also for helping them build literacy skills, self-confidence, and strengthening communication skills! As if this list wasn’t impressive enough, it brings a whole other host of benefits when it comes to bilingualism and introducing a second language to children. That said, we want to take advantage of National Reading Month to share three essential reading hacks when it comes to bilingual reading and building a love for reading.

Pick three books to read daily. First things first– it’s important to set the stage for a good reading habit. Get your child excited to pick his or her favorite books and spend quality time by your side reading them. This opens up a space for you to read bilingually, introduce new vocabulary and interact with your child in your target language. We suggest picking out three books you plan to read on a daily basis. If you’re introducing a second language, this is the perfect time to choose bilingual books for kids with words you’d like your child to learn. A trick to getting kids excited about reading, either in their dominant or second language, is choosing topics that interest them. Whether it be trucks, animals, princesses or school, they’ll gravitate towards books they can relate to. You don’t need to read all three books in one sitting! In fact, it may be a good idea to spread them out throughout the day. For example, you can read one book during playtime and two books at bedtime. You can also combine a variety of books like children’s sound bookspicture books or musical books. Let your child participate in picking out the books, and, remember, if they want to read the same one over and over again, that’s totally ok! You can focus on different angles of the book each time to keep it exciting.

Enhance the reading experience. Once you get into a good cadence of reading, focus on having conversations with your child as you read. Take the dialogue beyond the words inside the book whenever you sit down to read together so that your child is exposed to more target words. You can discuss images, story characters, feelings and even make the book relevant to your child’s life to give new words additional context. Children learn language best through everyday interactions and constant exposure, so the more you enhance the reading experience and make it interactive, the more your child will remember new words. Whether you’re introducing new words in a second language or more advanced words in your child’s dominant language, this practice helps kids grasp vocabulary in a fun way!

Make it fun! Your child will eventually become familiar with many of the books he or she loves which makes it the perfect time to spice things up and incorporate games! We love this tip because it meshes reading time and playtime so well. Here are some exciting ways to turn the reading experience into a game while developing your child’s language and cognitive skills: 

  • Ask all sorts of questions: Ask your child to identify details in an illustration. For example: What colors are the elements? How many are there? What are they doing? How are they positioned?  Here at Binibi, we’ve designed our bilingual children’s books so that it’s easy to look at the illustrations from different angles.
  • Introduce a game of “I Spy”: Encourage your child to search the illustrations to find certain elements. You can provide clues to help them locate the element. For example: In our La Selva sound book, you can ask your child to find the mushroom and say, “it’s by the tree bark, close to the hanging monkey.” 
  • Have your child fill in the blank: As you read the book, talk about the pictures, or sing the songs inside a musical book, have your child complete your sentences or phrases with new words they’ve learned.
  • Get creative with arts and crafts: Give your child some paper and crayons and help them outline the images in a book as you continue to discuss them and their meanings. 
  • Have your child find keywords throughout the book: Using the keywords and pronunciation guide in the back of each Binibi bilingual baby book, read keywords to your child in the target language and have them locate them in the book for extra practice and context! 

Incorporating these three essential reading tips will definitely keep you and your little ones busy throughout National Reading Month. We hope you make a habit out of implementing all these language-boosting strategies well beyond March so that you continue to set your child up for language and literary success!