What kinds of books are best for encouraging multi-lingual kids?

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Märchenbuch - German language book of children's fairy tales 1919 My husband speaks German as a mother tongue and we’re planning on him speaking in German to the future kids. While not pregnant yet, we’re on a tight budget so we’d love to stock up on books slowly so we have one less expense when the time comes. Since we can’t find children’s books in German in libraries here, we’re looking at Amazon.de, but everything I like seems to be for older ages (years 3-5).

What type of books should I buy? Right now we’re thinking books in German with one or two sentences on a page will be great for awhile — especially since their dad will be reading them. At what age did you start reading books in a second language to your child? — Maria

Did you introduce your child to more than one language because a parent speaks it? Have you incorporated books into your child’s learning of the language?

Comments on What kinds of books are best for encouraging multi-lingual kids?

  1. Wow. I just skimmed the kinderbucher section of amazon.de and I saw more books in English or Spanish than I saw in German. Maybe because of my IP address. I did, however, find a place that will waive shipping to the US if you spend at least 75E (http://www.globalbooks.de/). They have a big selection and they also seem to have German kids videos, which can give dad a break from being the only German speaker.

    Neither of my parents are Russian but they both speak (well, spoke) it nearly fluently and they tried to raise me bilingually. In addition to speaking Russian to me, I went to a daycare where all the other children were children of Russian-speaking immigrants. This was all fine and dandy until I went to preschool, which was all English-speaking.

    You may be better off in the situation where you’re speaking both English and German to your child since my parents only spoke Russian to me unless we were with relatives. This made it feel like English was an all-or-nothing proposition and I rebelled against Russian when I switched day care.

    Also, start with both languages from the beginning. Babies’ brains are amazing sorting machines and eventually your kid will understand both languages just fine.

  2. I’m Austrian and my mother tongue is German, not a parent, but a very dedicated book-giving auntie. 😀
    Anything by Mira Lobe I’d recommend (especially Das kleine Ich bin Ich, which is about an animal that is different from all the others but in the end figures out that it’s great being itself, and nothing else – true offbeat!) For some reason ‘Vom kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat’ is wildly popular, too. So is ‘Der Grüffelo’ – The Gruffalo in German.
    The Wimmelbücher don’t have words but are great books to explore and learn words if you have a parent to talk to about the many, many things happening on their pages.
    Then for 5-7 year-olds, I really like Janosch, ‘Oh wie schön ist Panama’ for example. Also, an oldie but goodie: Das kleine Gespenst by Otfried Preußler. It’s available as a wonderful audio book as well, I loved it to pieces and to this day, that’s the mp3 I go to when I can’t sleep. 😀
    For online bookstores, I can recommend http://www.isbn1.at, though I’m not sure they ship to the US, but I know they go out of their way to find books for me, so they probably would for you as well.

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