Christmas is a great time of the year to expand your child’s library. I am proponent of bilingualism and think children should be taught several languages in public schools. A great way to expose children to a new language and make it fun is through books. Here are some of my favorites. These books are bilingual, but I encourage you to read only the Spanish section of the book.
Qué Montón de Tamales – Gary Soto
This is my favorite book! Maria helps her mom make tamales, but loses her mother’s wedding ring in the masa. Read the book and learn about Mexican cultural traditions at Christmas time and find out if Maria gets the ring back!
En Mi Familia- Carmen Lomas Gorza
This book has paintings on each page depicting favorite family celebrations of the author’s life. Read it with your child and see if you can relate to any of the celebrations.
Pelitos- Sandra Cisnero
This beautifully illustrated book is narrated by the main character. She describes her family member’s hair. Read to find out whose hair she loves best!
Stories and Songs written by children’s composer Jose Luis Orozco
He has a lot of choices on his website, but my favorite is the De Colores book and CD. It has all the nursery rhymes in Spanish!
Stories written by Latin American author Alma Flor Ada
She has a lot of choices as well. Choose a book that best interests your child.
Oral language plays a very important role in developing vocabulary and reading comprehension skills for young children. The more you read, talk, and expose your children to language, the more vocabulary knowledge they develop. What is important is that it is “authentic language exposure.” In other words, flashcard drills are good, but that’s not what develops a child’s language. Instead going to the grocery store and talking to your child about what you are going to buy, “oh look there are the oranges” (as you point and grab an orange). This is what authentic language looks and sounds like.
The New York Times recently posted an article, “Language Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K” discussing the language gaps between upper class (median income $69,000) and working class families ($23,900). Past studies show that children of wealthier parents have heard millions of more words in comparison to children of working class families. Current research conducted by Ann Fernald a psychologist at Stanford University found that 18 month-old children from wealthier families can identify words “dog” and “ball” faster than children of lower income homes. Additionally by the age of 3, children of wealthier famlieis hear 30 million words than children from low- income households.
In a separate studie done by Fernald, she records the vocabulary of 29 children from low-income households. Fernald differentiates between words overheard from television, adult conversation and adult-child conversation. Children of 19 months heard as little as 670 ‘child-directed’ words compared to their peers who heard 12,000 words. This is about double the amount of words. Although there are many great television programs and apps out there for children, nothing compares to carve giver-child conversations and interactions.
Educators and administrators are taking an active approach and pushing for Pre-K in all elementary schools. Schools are also working closely with parents. They are providing workshops for parents on parenting, play, literacy, and English classes. These are great free resources for parents to take advantage of.
So next time you go to the grocery, make a list with our child and point out the fruits and vegetables you see while shopping.
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Whether you are a parent or an educator, we can relate to the thought of wishing for the perfect book to helps us understand children of all ages. There are great books that can help parents and professionals understand children at various stages in their life . One of my favorite go to books is Yard Sticks Ages 4-14 by Chip Wood.
Chip Wood does a great job of explaining social development, cognitive development, and academic development. For example a four year old’s social development includes, needing opportunities to practice the same behavior over and over. One can’t expect a four year old to master a behavior on the first try. Academically, a four year old enjoys predictable books, read alouds, scribbles a lot and words are spelled phonetically.
Focusing on an 8 year old’s social development, they enjoy collaborating and boundaries are difficult to follow. Academically, they enjoy series chapter books, they work on deeper comprehension skills, write longer stories, their vocabulary improves, and they use compound words.
While observing fourteen year old’s, they begin to develop an adult personality. They are embarrassed by their parents and don’t like being lectured by their parents. Academically, thematic literature is great for helping them make text-to-self connections and text-to-world connections.
These are just a few examples of what you can find in Chip Wood’s book. Wood provides insightful information that can help parents and educators understand children better.
Wood, C. (2007). Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14. Massachusetts: Northeast Foundation For Children.