Motivating Your Child to Read in The Target Language

Reading helps your child to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills. It is an exciting way to spark your child’s imagination and stimulates curiosity. Above all these, reading promotes language learning at home when you and your child wish to learn a foreign language.

We started reading at home when my first born was six months old. I would sit down by his crib to read out loud for 15 minutes. These minutes became part of our before nap time routine and allowed me to create a special bond with my baby. I felt so happy to share with my son stories from our heritage and our language. I used to read to him in Spanish. I did the same thing with my other two kids. It was precious.

Time went by and my children showed clear signs of wanting to read on their own. It all started with touching books, trying to grab them the same way they saw me doing it, always making sounds and speaking words… well, many of them were made-up words. Obviously each child developed their reading skill at their own time. And that was fine.

A comfy couch and a well lit room are perfect companions for a young reader. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Even though they liked to read, it depended very much on the material we read. They preferred books with big colorful images, fun faces, furry animals and crazy clouds. That’s when I realized that for me to keep them interested in reading in Spanish, it was necessary to provide them with books and other printed materials with fun, attractive and catchy designs. All of the sudden travel brochures, restaurant menus, comics strips, and church flyers became part of our home library. Anything that will spark that joy in my three kiddos for letter and sounds. And my native language, of course.

Bilingual Books for Young Learners

Dual-language books are a great resource, and many children’s books are published in two languages. If you speak a language other than English at home, reading dual-language books with your child might also help you become more familiar with English.

How to motivate your child to read in Spanish?

There are so many books to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. As a broad rule, young children often enjoy books, songs and stories that have good rhyme, rhythm and repetition. In fact, one of the ways that children learn a second language is through repetition and rhyme.

Arroz con Leche was my favorite rhyme book when I was little. My kids loved it, too. Photo credits Scholastic.

Choose books that are the right length for your child and that match your child’s changing interests. Take advantage of innovation these days and find books and reading systems that provide sounds as a great way to learn to pronounce the words in the target language.

Many studies show that the development of comprehension in the target language texts improved by 50% when readers use innovative reading materials accompanied by sound or writing programs. However, we want to keep things easy and practical. Children don’t favor complicated instructions and steps to follow. They need something fun and attractive to find their mother tongue interesting and worth learning it.

At the moment my go-to book when I’m teaching toddlers and elementary age children is the Little Polyglot Book Animals in Spanish and English. This book is part of the series Little Polyglot Books from Linguacious. These books were designed to foster in children a sense of curiosity and pride for a foreign language.

The Little Polyglot Book Animals in both English and Spanish is an useful tool for parents and educators who may not be speakers of the target language themselves but would like their kids to learn a foreign language. It is also a colorful alternative for families looking to promote the minority language at home when living overseas.

Colorful, fun, and innovative. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Reading, even at a slow pace exposes students to more sentences, grammar, and new vocabulary per minute than the average, short class, TV show, or song. This is why students who read foreign books are able to speak more fluently than students who don’t, and this is even more noticeable when kids take advantage of innovative books that allow them to develop the four language skills needed to master a language.

In conclusion, any way you find to ignite your child’s love for reading and another language is valid. Just remember, keep it fun, flexible, according to your budget, and always oriented to your kids interests.

Happy Reading!

Published by Little Nómadas

Mother, foreign languages educator, expat, intercultural relations coach, and travel addict.

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