Marvelous Books for May

Things have been very busy around the Sunshine Readers home! We are getting ready to fly to the Sunshine State tomorrow for an extended visit with my husband’s family and attend two weddings.¬†Since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post while we’re away, I thought I’d pass along some recommendations for books to read this month. ūüôā

Please share a book that you and your children/students are reading in the month of May!

At the Beach by Huy Voun Lee

A boy and his mother practice writing Chinese characters in the sand as they spend the day at the beach. The illustrations are wonderful and provide concrete connections between the forming of the character and the word it represents. This is a fascinating book that can be used for multicultural units or linguistic exposure!

Casey and Derek on the Ice by Marty Sederman

Do you have children or students who love sports? This rhyming text uses lots of sports jargon but the pictures make the plot understandable even for those who are less familiar with hockey. A fun read about teamwork that showcases the fact that we can work to change the outcome of a game (or anything in life) as long as there is time left on the clock!

The Perfect Dog by Kevin O’Malley

This is a book that is so fun to read aloud! If you have an expressive voice, your kids/students will be laughing along with you as a girl tries to determine what exactly makes the perfect dog. My daughters enjoy reading this one aloud to each other.

Police Officers on Patrol by Kersten Hamilton

Many young children aspire to be firefighters and police officers when they are grown-up. What a wonderful aspiration! Here is a sweet narrative story that shows a few of the things that police officers do to help our community. This could be used as part of a community social studies unit for lower grades and it would be great to read near your school’s scheduled¬†Career Day, too.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea

I love this book! (Did you notice it as the image for my post?) Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? is so fun to read and has creative flaps for older children that will help them to grasp the concept of animate vs. inanimate objects. My kids really like this book as well.

Little Kids First BIG Book of Animals by Catherine D. Hughes

National Geographic Kids always puts together excellent resources with stunning photographs. Little Kids First BIG Book of Animals is no exception. It highlights 5 regions of the world and gives information for approximately 6 animals in each region. This is an excellent non-fiction book to include in a learning center, use for a geography or animal habitat unit, or simply give to a child who like animals.

My First Book of Hindi Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Hindi Language and Indian Culture by Rina Singh

That lengthy title says it all! Want to introduce your child to other cultures or languages? This book is a perfect choice. My pronunciation may not have always been the best but the words are used in fun ways and include swing, lunch, journey and even phrases such as topsy-turvy!

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

Reader’s Theater for Early Readers

Reader’s Theater can be such a fun literacy activity for a traditional classroom or homeschooling co-op group!

In our weekly visit to the library, my children and I came across a picture book that would make for a wonderful reader’s theater activity: Where Are You Going? To See My Friend by friends and illustrators Eric Carle and Kazuo Iwamura. This is a bilingual book in English and Japanese¬†that tells¬†the story of a¬†dog who invites animal friends¬†one by one to join him in meeting his friend. It is¬†written in a basic script for early¬†readers to be¬†able to read independently and has a solid pattern and rhythm that will help students to stay on track as they perform.

What makes it especially unique is that the first half of the book is in English, while the second half of the book is in Japanese (which is read from the last page to the middle), with the same text but different illustrations. Such a unique twist!

Where Are You Going? To See My Friend¬†is a fun read aloud when you¬†make a distinct voice for each new animal character who appears in the story. But for slightly older students, it would be very exciting to follow it up with¬†a reader’s theater!

If you’ve never done a reader’s theater before, try it out:¬†After reading the book aloud to your class, simply assign each child one animal and rehearse the lines in groups of 6. (You may need to facilitate the rehearsals more closely depending on the age and reading ability.) Then allow each group to present to the rest of the class!

Note: You may want to check out and utilize these Guidelines for Performing Reader’s Theater. Enjoy! ūüôā

Best Ages: pre-k – kindergarten (read aloud), 1st – 2nd (reader’s theater)

 

Raising Multilingual Children

With a background in Spanish Education, I always find it fascinating to hear stories of real families who are raising multilingual children. And I’m impressed by the tenacity of many people who continue to pass along their heritage and culture through their mother tongue.

Of course, there are many factors at play and so many diverse family scenarios that raising multilingual children does not always happen, even for parents who speak more than one language. Take my family as an example. My husband is Filipino and his first language is Tagalog. I am a certified Spanish teacher. Although we each speak two languages, only one is common: English. Despite our idealistic (and sometimes good-humored) dream of raising trilingual children, the reality is that we speak predominantly English in our household. It is very challenging to teach our daughters a second language that the other parent does not understand or speak well. (Kudos to parents out there who are doing this in spite of the challenges!)

realfamilyphoto
Let’s be real: capturing a decent family photo is hard enough… Raising multilingual kids takes effort!

So if we aren’t raising bilingual or trilingual kids based on our own language abilities, what can we do to expose them¬†to other languages?¬†There are obvious answers such as¬†enroll them in language classes, purchase software or utilize online programs… even access free apps like DuoLingo¬†and FluentU. These are all wonderful resources and ideas, but there is another essential way we can help our children become multilingual: exposing them to other cultures and¬†languages through good, solid children’s literature.

Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book¬†by Muriel and Tom Feelings is an¬†outstanding example of good children’s literature that will teach our children something basic while setting a foundation for a multilingual future.¬†Although I doubt many of our kids will grow up to study and speak Swahili fluently, they will undoubtedly be more eager and open to learning a new language when they are exposed to many languages and cultures in a respectful manner. And don’t let your inability to speak Swahili (or any other language) hold you back from reading it to your children or students: this book contains¬†straight-forward phonetic clues for pronunciation, as do many other books like it.

So are you ready to set a multilingual foundation through children’s literature?

Check out my other posts for another Caldecott Honor book and great ABC book. To read more about the reasons that learning another languages is useful, click on this link from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Best Ages: pre-k Р2nd grade

For Parents:

  • C is for Chakula¬†(food)- Use magazine pictures or grocery store ads to create a collage of the foods that your family likes to eat. (Bonus points if you include embe or mango, which also appears in the book!) Write the word “chakula” in Swahili somewhere on the paper and practice saying it. And for more gluing and grocery ad fun, check out a wonderful blog post by Angela at MOMtessori Life… With a great¬†explanation of¬†how kids learn through the use of¬†glue sticks!

For Teachers:

  • H is for Heshima (respect) – Use cut-outs of colorful paper handprints to have students write one way that they show respect to others in our school/community. Create a respect bulletin board and include the Swahili word “Heshima” for other students to see.
  • J is for Jambo (hello) and K is for Karibu (welcome)-¬†¬†As a class, brainstorm other phrases we use in English to greet one another, then think of words we use to say goodbye. ¬†(Include non-verbals such as waving.) Ask for student volunteers to demonstrate kind and polite ways to greet one another and say goodbye.
  • R is for Rafiki (friend) and W is for Watoto (children)¬†– Get together with another class at your grade level to play group games together¬†at recess or a free period in the day.